The Tottenham Literature Festival is a bold new event aimed at celebrating Black writers and distinctive children’s literature and it’s taking place right in the heart of one of London’s most diverse boroughs at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre.

Tottenham Literature Festival
Bernie Grant Arts Centre

All roads will lead to Tottenham during 1 – 9 November 2019 for anyone looking for a family friendly programme packed full of readings, performance, talks, debates and workshops.

From poetry and spoken word to memoir and prose, the Tottenham Literature Festival will celebrate the word and storytelling in all its glorious forms. There will be pop up performances, bestselling authors and writing workshops to fire imaginations. Speakers and performers will discuss everything from the power of black hair in literature to the role of poetry in mandem culture.

Tottenham Literature Festival
Hannah Azieb Pool
Image credit: Aida Muluneh

This wonderful event is the brainchild of Hannah Azieb Pool, the new Artistic Director & CEO of the Bernie Grant Arts Centre. We recently caught up with her to find out more about the festival and what she’s looking forward to seeing the most.

Tell us why it’s important to have such a festival in Tottenham? 

The Tottenham Literature Festival is all about providing a platform for Black writers to tell their own stories in a space where they are in the majority. Literature festivals are predominantly white run spaces, we wanted to offer something bold and different that celebrates the word in all its glorious forms in a space that reflects our beautifully diverse community.

Who should come along and what can they expect to see and do? 

The festival is for anyone who is passionate about the power of words to change lives. Whether you’re a book lover or an aspiring writer, we’ve tried to make the programme as accessible as possible. We’ve got talks, performances and workshops. You can hear from some of the best Black writers in the UK today like Emma Dabiri, Lemn Sissay, Keisha Thompson and Candice Carty Williams.

Tottenham Literature Festival
Emma Dabiri

What does it mean to be Artistic Director & CEO at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre? 

It’s a huge honour to be Artistic Director & CEO at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, the space means so much to so many. I am incredibly excited about the potential of the BGAC to become a hub for Black creativity.

“You can hear from some of the best Black writers in the UK today like Emma Dabiri, Lemn Sissay, Keisha Thompson and Candice Carty Williams”

Personally, what aspect of the festival are you most excited about?  

Lemn Sissay’s performance of his show Something Dark will be incredible. I am also excited to see Thompson’s show Man On the Moon and the two festival Saturdays (2nd and 9th November) where we have two full days of talks and workshops on everything from ‘Bold, Black Women’ in literature to ‘Fros, Rows and Prose’, is all about the role of Black hair in literature.

Tottenham Literature Festival
Lemn Sissay
Image Credit: Hamish Brown

Is the festival child friendly? 

Absolutely. On both festival Saturdays we have free family storytelling and arts and crafts from 12.30pm – 16.15pm. We also have a beautiful Family Creative Writing Workshop (Saturday 2 November) where you can write a story with a child.

Name five of your best all-time favourite books/author

Only five? Okay I’ll try. Jackie Kay’s The Adoption Papers, Andrea Levy’s The Long Song, Tsitsi Dangarembg’s Nervous Conditions, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, by Maaza Mengiste and Their Eyes Are Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston.


To find out more and to book tickets, visit: Tottenham Literature Festival website

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