Speaking Volumes on Childhood Memories

Path and fence near a park.
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Enjoy an evening of film, poetry and conversation on childhood

This is an online event hosted on Zoom. Bookers are sent a link in advance giving access.

Our early years should be carefree, stress-free, worry-free. Yet all too often we’re made to feel ‘not quite right’ in some way, whether that’s because of the way we dress, the music we like — or, more insidiously, because of the colour of our skin. School days bring their own issues of peer pressure too, teaching lessons way beyond the classroom. But what happens to our own memories of that time when we grow up, or when we become parents ourselves? And what do we do with the knowledge that formative years are experienced very differently across cultures — and that ‘childhood’ is, after all, just a sociological construct that changes with the times?

These are some of the complex, moving and, at times, humorous issues examined by award-winning authors Jay Bernard, afshan d’souza-lodhi, Xiaolu Guo, John Hegley and Catherine Johnson in poetry and prose in the new anthology Not Quite Right for Us, which celebrates the tenth anniversary of literature organisation Speaking Volumes. In this special one-off film made for the British Library, they talk to the anthology’s editor, Speaking Volumes’ co-founder Sharmilla Beezmohun, as well as reading their work, which is illustrated by images and accompanied by new music from award-winning composer Dominique Le Gendre.

Jay Bernard is a writer from London and the author of the author of Surge (Chatto and Windus, 2019). Jay won the Ted Hughes award 2017 and was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year 2020.

afshan d’souza-lodhi was born in Dubai and bred in Manchester. She is a writer of plays and poetry, and was recently commissioned to write and direct a short film for Channel 4 (An Act of Terror). Her debut poetry collection re: desire (Burning Eye Books) was longlisted for the Jhalak Prize.   

Xiaolu Guo is a Chinese British novelist, essayist and filmmaker. Her novels include A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers and I Am China. Her memoir Once Upon A Time In The East won the National Book Critics Circle Award 2017. Her most recent novel is A Lover’s Discourse, shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2020. 

John Hegley, born 1953, north London, Anglo-French parentage. Schooled Luton and Bristol, graduated Bradford University. John Peel sessions with Popticians,1983/4. Guardian Review resident poet,1990-1995. BBC Online poet in residence 2000. Keats House, poet in residence, 2012. Book titles include New and Selected Potatoes (Bloodaxe) and Glad to wear Glasses (Carlton). Dwelling, London Borough of Hackney. Football team, Luton.

Catherine Johnson lives in Hastings and has written over twenty books for young readers, her most recent are To Liberty, published by Bloomsbury and Queen of Freedom, published by Pushkin. She also writes for film and television; her work includes Bullet Boy and an adaptation of Miranda Kaufman’s The Black Tudors for Silverprint Pictures.

Born and brought up in Trinidad, Dominique Le Gendre trained as a classical guitarist in Paris while studying Musicology at the Sorbonne. London-based for over thirty years, she has composed extensively for theatre, dance, television, film and radio. Her chamber works and operas have been commissioned and performed in the UK and abroad. Dominique is the Artistic Director of StrongBack Productions

Sharmilla Beezmohun has worked in publishing since 1994. In 2010 She co-founded Speaking Volumes Live Literature Productions with Sarah Sanders; they were joined by Nick Chapman in 2011. In 2010 Sharmilla’s first novel, Echoes of a Green Land, was published in translation in Spain as Ecos de la tierra verde.


Name: Speaking Volumes on Childhood Memories
Where: Zoom
When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546
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