Poetry Panel on Diversity in British Poetry and Publishing, Bedford Square (RHUL), London, UK.

  • Mary Jean Chan (Organiser)

Activity: OtherPublic engagement, outreach and knowledge exchange - Public Lecture/debate/seminar


Invited speakers: Dr. Nathalie Teitler (TCW), Kayo Chingonyi (RHUL), Emma Paterson (RCW) and Kish Widyaratna (Picador)

I organized and moderated this panel event on “Diversity in British Poetry and Publishing” out of a desire to bring together BAME poets, arts activists, agents and publishers to discuss the state of diversity in British publishing today. As such, I was pleased to invite Kayo, a former RHUL graduate and poet from Zambia, Nathalie, Director of the Complete Works Program, Emma Paterson, Literary Agent from Rogers, Coleridge and White, and Kish, Editorial Assistant from Picador to discuss their thoughts and experiences at the Bedform Room in Bedford Square. We spoke about issues of BAME tokenism, the need to diversify the longlists and shortlists of book prizes, how financial support for BAME writers is crucial, particularly in an era where unpaid internships are rife in the publishing sector. We concluded by celebrating the success of programs such as the Complete Works, which has produced award-winning poets such as Sarah Howe (Winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize), Mona Arshi (Winner of the Forward Prize for Best First Collection), and Karen McCarthy Woolf (Shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection), and also noted the fact that BAME literary agents and publishers such as Emma and Kish are respectively doing much-needed and hugely significant work within British (poetry) publishing.
Period24 Feb 2017