Last year only 4% of the 2,000 or so writers at the three biggest literary festivals were from Black Caribbean, Black African, South Asian or East Asian backgrounds. Media Diversified aims to change this landscape with Bare Lit Festival, a celebration of writers of colour.
Samantha Asumadu, editor in chief at Media Diversified hopes the festival will “introduce featured authors and poets to an audience who may not have previously known their work, inspire future collaborations and show all these other festivals that there is a wealth of talent out there, you may just have to look at bit harder”.
The main issue with large festivals is that they tend to choose their speakers from major publishers but many authors of colour are represented by smaller publishers. BareLit gives voice to both emerging and established writers of all ethnicities.
Already the festival has amassed an impressive line-up, including the Young Laureate for London Selina Nwulu, American poet Jane Yeh, and London-based author Tosin Coker, one of the few black published authors of sci-fi fiction. Also look out for author of The Road From Damascus Robin Yassin-Kassab who has a forthcoming book about the Syrian Revolution.
At the festival you can hear a range of perspectives through a series of panel discussions which — if Stoke Newington Literary Festival is anything to go by — will be intelligent, informative and lively. Topics include Second-Generation Poets in Exile, What Does Liberation in Literature Look Like?, Sci Fi vs Afrofuturism and much more.
In order to raise funds to pay venues, guests and so on Media Diversified have put together an Indiegogo campaign with a donation getting you entry to the festival. Asumadu said of this method of funding: “Wouldn’t it be a huge statement to the publishing world that writers of colour are in demand and that there is a market for them? A diverse literary festival made possible through contributions from the general public? If that isn’t a big statement I don’t know what is.”
The opening night is Friday 26 February at The Betsy Trotwood in Farringdon, featuring poetry readings, live music and a raffle. The festival alternates between The Betsy and The Free Word Ventre between 27 -28 February.