Windrush Women: Past and Present

Windrush Women Past and Present

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An evening of poetry and readings inspired by the lives of female writers from the Windrush era

On board the Empire Windrush  were 257 female passengers, 188 of them were travelling alone, from all over the Caribbean. There are many stories missing from the Windrush narrative, not least those of bold and pioneering women, leaving everything behind, to better their own and their family’s lives. Join contemporary international writing magazine Wasafiri to celebrate women writers from the Windrush era and hear work inspired by their legacy from a new generation living and writing in the UK. Taking part in this special evening of poetry and readings will be Jay Bernard, Alison Donnell, Maria Del Pilar Kaladeen, Hannah Lowe, Susheila Nasta and Catherine Ross.

Jay Bernard is a writer, film programmer and archivist from London. In 2016, Jay was poet-in-residence at the George Padmore Institute, where they began writing Surge, a collection based on the New Cross Fire and which won the 2018 Ted Hughes Award for new work. They have also recently completed their first short film Something Said with new film collective Philomela’s Chorus.

Maria del Pilar Kaladeen is an Associate Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. She is one of the editors of the new literary anthology We Mark Your Memory: Writing from the Descendants of Indenture and her monograph on indenture in colonial Guyana is forthcoming with Liverpool University Press. Maria is particularly interested in sharing academic research through public and community engagement and has designed and led knowledge exchange activities with London’s homeless and badly-housed.

Alison Donnell is Professor of Modern Literatures in English and Head of School of Literature, Creative Writing and Drama at the University of East Anglia. She has published widely on Caribbean, diasporic and black British writings and has been involved in a number of collaborative projects and publications with academics based at the University of the West Indies, most recently co-editing The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature (Routledge, 2011) with Michael A Bucknor. She is the General Editor of Caribbean Literature in Transition, 1800 - 2015 and is currently leading a Leverhulme Trust funded research project on ‘Caribbean Literary Heritage: Recovering the lost past and safeguarding the future’.

Hannah Lowe is a poet and researcher. Her first poetry collection Chick won the Michael Murphy Memorial Award for Best First Collection. She has also published three chapbooks: The Hitcher, R x and Ormonde and a family memoir Long Time No See. She teaches Creative Writing at Brunel University and is the current poet-in-residence at Keats House.

Catherine Ross is the Founder and Director of the National Caribbean Heritage Museum – the first museum in the UK to celebrate Caribbean heritage, culture and social history. She emigrated to the UK from the Caribbean island of St Kitts in 1958 aged seven years old. Catherine is also a published author and former teacher.

Susheila Nasta is Editor-in-Chief of Wasafiri, the magazine of international contemporary writing she founded in 1984. A literary activist, writer and presenter, she is currently Professor of Modern and Contemporary Literature at Queen Mary, University of London. Her books include: Home Truths: Fictions of the South Asian Diaspora in Britain (2002), Writing Across Worlds: Contemporary Writers Talk (2004), India in Britain (2012) and Asian Britain: A Photographic History (2013). She is currently co-editing the first Cambridge History of black and Asian British Writing (1800 to the present), writing a biography of The Bloomsbury Indians and remains literary executor of Sam Selvon. In 2011, she received an MBE for her services to black and Asian literatures.

Valerie Bloom MBE is an award-winning writer of poetry for adults and children, picture books, pre-teen and teenage novels and stories. She has presented and contributed to various radio and television programmes, performs, runs writing workshops and conducts training courses for teachers worldwide.

The event coincides with the publication of a special section on Windrush women in Wasafiri' 94th issue.

In association with Wasafiri

Wasafiri encourages readers and writers to travel the world via the word. For over three decades, the magazine has created a dynamic platform for mapping new landscapes in contemporary international writing featuring a diverse range of voices from across the UK and beyond. Committed to profiling the ‘best of tomorrow’s writers today’ it aims to simultaneously celebrate those who have become established literary voices. 

Image: Beryl Gilroy, courtesy of the Beryl Gilroy Estate and Peepal Tree Press


Name: Windrush Women: Past and Present
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546