Black Writers Conference 2018

Sat 13 October 2018 10:00 – 22:00

Cultureword’s 9th National Black Writers Conference will take place on Saturday, 13th October 2018. The Conference is for writers and publishers who identify as Black/Asian/BAME/POC. The conference will be covering: digital literature, afro-futurism, mental health, crime, developing audiences, self publishing and the Black Cultural Economy. Over Here Zine Fest, a festival of zines that showcase the work of creatives who identify as Black/Asian/BAME/POC, will also be taking place as part of the Conference.

Panel Sessions

Building audiences

How do you find your audiences and once found how do you develop them? We will be sharing our experiences and ideas of building audiences locally, nationally and internationally.

Panellists: Jennifer Makumbi, Yvonne Battle-Felton, Shivanee Ramlochan and Naniso Tswai

Writer Journeys

Every writer has a story to tell, rarely do they tell their own. What got them into writing, what kept them going and how, eventually, they achieved success.

Panellists: Keisha Thompson, Hirohisa Fukuda, Anjum Malik, Rajeev Balasubramanyam and Masimba Musodza

Where the Griots gather – creating an Afrofuturist platform in real and cyberspace

AfroFuturism as a genre focuses on speculative visions rooted in the black imagination. From Wakanda to Wondaland, sonic fiction and graphic novels alike have transported us to new ways of seeing blackness, whilst questioning our perceptions of reality and society.

One question for us is, what are the spaces we can create to encourage the practical flourishing of creatives who want to explore this genre, or simply have a space to call their own? During this panel, we’ll be discussing our attempts at creating such a space, in the form of AfroFlux and it’s spin off mini con, FluxCon, which prepares for its third year in 2019.

Panellists: Florence Okoye, Juice Aleem and Charlotte Bailey

Digital Literature

We all know what literature is but what exactly is digital literature, what does it do and how can you make use of it as a writer and a reader?

Panellists: Maya Chowdhry, Kooj Chuhan, Mahboobeh Rajabi and Clare Ramsaran

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know


Guilty or not guilty?

This will take the form of a mock trials. Herded into a fake Magistrate court, writers who contributed to the Shots In The Dark anthology will be cross-examined. Are their works subliminal confessions they have committed foul acts, whether of murder, manslaughter, breach of parking regulations or even, if the chief examiner sees fit to interrogate them on this, breach of the Most Important Rules of Literature?

Panellists: Vijay Medtia, Kenya Sterling and more TBC

Then further sessions at mock Crown Court, dealing with heinous crimes of the utmost seriousness, in the dock will be Jacob Ross and Patrice Lawrence. We interrogate their artistic choices, their aesthetic techniques, their themes and the language they use.

In the dock: Jacob Ross and Patrice Lawrence

Chief Interrogators: Pete Kalu and Anjum Malik

Jury: the audience


How is our sense of self and our mental health affected by the stories a racialised society projects onto people of colour? Is a significant cause of mental illness among black communities an internalisation of such stories? Is mad a sick alternative to bad? What stories do writers of colour choose to tell that address (or transverse) mental health and why? How do we all maintain our mental well-being as writers and artists?

Panellists: Kei Miller, Desiree Reynolds and Col Bashir

DIY Publishing

Getting into print is a difficult journey, sometimes it’s better to do it yourself. Tips and experiences on what to do, what pitfalls to avoid and how to make your publishing journey work for you.

Panellists: Deanne Heron, A D Starrling and Martin De Mello

Zines and Activism

What role do zines and zine-making play in activism? Why are they relevant and important for people identifying as BAME/Black/Asian/POC? Join our panel members as they talk about their experiences of cut-and-paste, taking up space within activist communities and providing an alternative to the mainstream.

Panellists: Humaira Saeed, Melissa Steiner, Heena Patel and Nazmia Jamal

Evening Event: Cabaret for Freedom

Tickets sold separately via Manchester Literature Festival

An evening of poetry, prose and live music to celebrate the life and work of James Baldwin. Featuring Jackie Kay, Kei Miller, SuAndi, Isaiah Hull & Young Identity and other special guests. Hosted by Shirley May.

Cabaret for Freedom is an initiative of St John’s Church in partnership with Commonword, Young Identity, Manchester Literature Festival and Black History Month. With support from the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust.

7.30pm at St John’s Church, Ayres Road, Old Trafford, Manchester M16 7GX

Tickets £8/6

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