Polari at the British Library

Polari Prize

For more information

  • Tel: +44 (0)1937 546546
  • Email: boxoffice@bl.uk
  • Full Price: £10.00 Member: £10.00 Other concessions available

Unfortunately, an electrical fault is affecting some of our onsite services including those in the Knowledge Centre where this event was due to take place. This means that sadly we have had to cancel this event.

This event takes place at the British Library.

Hosted by author and Polari founder, Paul Burston, tonight’s event features a lineup of former Polari Prize winners. Plus the announcement of this year’s long lists of books nominated for the prize.

Described by The Huffington Post as ‘the most exciting literary movement in London, crackling with energy, ideas, excitement’, Polari was founded in 2007 in a bar in Soho. Since then, the salon has become a key feature of London’s literary scene, showcasing emerging and established LGBTQ+ authors, poets and spoken word performers at a variety of arts centres, book festivals, libraries, museums and queer commercial venues like Heaven nightclub and The RVT.

Writers who have appeared at Polari include Amrou Al-Kadhi, Neil Bartlett, Dustin Lance Black, Russell T Davies, Juno Dawson, Bernardine Evaristo, Patrick Gale, Nikita Gill, Niven Govinden, Garth Greenwell, Philip Hensher, Juliet Jacques, Jackie Kay, Val McDermid, Andrew McMillan, Charlotte Mendelson, Fiona Mozley, Musa Okwonga, Okechukwu Nzelu, Diriye Osman, Juno Roche, Ali Smith, Diana Souhami, Joelle Taylor, Paula Varjack and Sarah Waters.

Since 2014, Polari has also toured annually, supported by Arts Council England and appearing across the UK and beyond, with regular events in Bradford, Hastings, Huddersfield, Manchester and Newcastle. The salon also runs The Polari Prize – the UK’s only book awards for LGBTQ+ writing. First founded in 2011, there are now three prizes – for debut, non-debut and children’s / YA books.

Paul Burston is the author of six novels and four non-fiction books and the editor of two short story collections. His latest novel is the psychological thriller The Closer I Get. A former AIDS activist, his memoir We Can Be Heroes will be published by Little A in June 2023.

Angela Chadwick is a former journalist who works in higher education communications. Her debut novel XX was named a Guardian book of the year and won the 2019 Polari First Book Prize. It has been published in English, Korean, German and Turkish. Her second novel, Ungrateful was published by Dialogue Books in June 2022.

John McCullough’s book of poems, Reckless Paper Birds (Penned in the Margins) won the 2020 Hawthornden Prize and was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award. He also won the Polari First Book Prize and was shortlisted for the 2021 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. His new collection, Panic Response, explores personal and cultural anxiety, and the ways people respond.

Mohsin Zaidi is an award-winning author, commentator and lawyer. His critically acclaimed memoir, A Dutiful Boy (Penguin, 2020) won the American Lambda Literary award and the UK's Polari First Book Prize. It was also named a Guardian, GQ and New Statesman Book of the Year; providing a personal insight into issues of diversity and inclusion, mental health and justice.

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Name: Polari at the British Library
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: Full Price: £10.00
Member: £10.00
Student: £5.00
Registered Unemployed: £5.00
Disabled: £5.00
Senior (60+): £9.00
Young Person (18-25): £5.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546