Writing In the Black Fantastic

Thursday 15 September

Writers Courttia Newland and Michael Salu join a panel, chaired by Ellah P Wakatama, exploring the influence of the fantastical in their work, inspired by the Hayward Gallery’s latest exhibition, In the Black Fantastic.


Curated by Ekow Eshun, In the Black Fantastic presents artworks which draw on elements of myth, speculative fiction, spiritual tradition, carnival and folklore, to build what Eshun has described as ‘new narratives of Black possibility’.

Find out how Newland and Salu have drawn on these same fantastical traditions in their own books, artworks, films and television productions, building alternate worlds which recast historic and current injustices and traumas into their own compulsive new narratives of Black possibility.

Michael Salu is a British-born Nigerian writer, artist, critic and creative strategist. He has produced work on technological and geopolitical changes in society and culture, been published in many literary journals, magazines and art publications, won awards, and he has exhibited his art internationally.

Salu has also conceived and managed the creative output of many culturally focused brands and organisations and contributed to various academic institutions’ art and media curriculums. He runs House of Thought, an artistic research practice and consultancy.

Courttia Newland is the author of nine books including The Scholar, his much lauded debut, and The Gospel According to Cane. He co-edited The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain, and his short stories have featured in various anthologies and been broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

He was shortlisted for the 2007 CWA Dagger in the Library Award and the 2010 Alfred Fagon Award. In 2016 he was awarded the Roland Rees Bursary for playwriting. As a screenwriter, Newland wrote episodes of Steve McQueen’s 2020 BBC series Small Axe.

Ellah Wakatama, OBE, (Hon) FRSL, is Editor-at-Large for Canongate. She serves as the Chair of the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing and is the Creative Manchester Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for New Writing, University of Manchester and sits on the General Committee of the Royal Literary Fund.

She is former deputy editor of Granta magazine, former editor at large for Granta books and has also worked as Senior Editor at Jonathan Cape and Assistant Editor at Penguin.

Her journalism and reviews have appeared in international publications including the Guardian and The Spectator.

She is a contributor to the New Daughters of Africa anthology and has edited several books including Safe House, Adventures in Creative Non-fiction and Africa39.

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