Writing the Rhythm

Anthony Joseph photo by Mirabelwhite

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Weave words and music in an evening of Jamaican roots reggae, jazz riffs, Afro dub electronica beats and poetry

Music unites: it is infectious, irresistible, international in reach. Its rhythms can be heard in the everyday conversations of all languages, in the sounds of the city and the forests and seas.

Dancing in time to all kinds of music, the words written and spoken by Marcia Douglas, Joshua Idehen, Anthony Joseph and Olive Senior create memorable stories and conjure up myriad landscapes and characters. Come and hear four award-winning writers read and talk about how they weave music into their words, whether Jamaican roots reggae or Trinidadian calypso, folkloric melodies or Afro dub electronica beats accompanying poetry. 

Chaired by novelist and short story writer Leone Ross. 

Part of the Breaking Ground series produced by Speaking Volumes Live Literature Productions

Marcia Douglas was born in the UK and grew up in Jamaica. She is the author of the novels The Marvellous Equations of the Dread: a Novel in Bass Riddim (2016), Madam Fate (1999) and Notes from a Writer's Book of Cures and Spells (2005) as well as a collection of poetry, Electricity Comes to Cocoa Bottom (1999). Her work has appeared in journals and anthologies internationally, including Kingston Noir, Jubilation! Poems Celebrating 50 Years of Jamaican Independence and Home: An Imagined Landscape. Her awards include a UK Poetry Book Society Recommendation. In addition to writing, she performs a one-woman show, Natural Herstory, and teaches at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Anthony Joseph is a poet, novelist, musician and academic described as ‘the leader of the black avant-garde in Britain’. He is the author of four poetry collections and a novel, The African Origins of UFOs. As a musician he has released six critically acclaimed albums and has collaborated with Archie Shepp, Jerry Dammers, Joseph Bowie, Keziah Jones, David Rudder and Meshell Ndgeocello who produced his 2014 album, Time. His sixth album, Caribbean Roots, was released in June 2016. He lectures in Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, London. His forthcoming novel, Kitch, a fictional biography of the Trinidadian calypsonian, Lord Kitchener, will be published in 2018.

Joshua Idehen
is a poet, teacher and musician. A British-born Nigerian, he founded the London poetry event, Poejazzi, and created London’s first app focused on UK spoken word for IOS and Android. He has performed alongside Saul Williams and Ed Sheeran among others. He produced three critically acclaimed albums: Benin City’s Fires In The Park (4 Stars, Q Mag) and LV’s Routes and Islands (among FactMag’s best albums of the 2000s). He collaborated with The Comet Is Coming on their album, Channel the Spirits, which was nominated for a Mercury Award. His gig/theatre show with Benin City, Last Night, about the disappearing music and clubbing spaces in the UK, recently sold out at The Roundhouse.

Olive Senior is the prizewinning author of 17 books of fiction, poetry, non-fiction and children’s literature. Born and brought up in Jamaica, she now lives in Canada. The Caribbean nevertheless remains the focus of her work and The Pain Tree won the overall 2016 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean literature. In 2015, she won the OCM Bocas non-fiction prize for Dying to Better Themselves: West Indians and the Building of the Panama Canal. Other awards include the first Commonwealth Writers Prize for her book Summer Lightning and the Institute of Jamaica’s Musgrave gold medal for her contribution to Jamaican heritage. She is on the faculty of the Humber School for Writers, Humber College, Toronto.

Leone Ross
writes magic realism, horror fiction, erotica and psychological drama. She has published two critically praised novels, All The Blood Is Red (ARP/Actes Sud) and Orange Laughter (Anchor/Farrar Straus & Giroux/Picador), which was shortlisted for the UK Orange Prize. Ross’s short fiction has been shortlisted for the V S Pritchett Prize and Salt Publishing’s Scott Prize. She has judged the Manchester Fiction Prize and the Wimbledon Bookfest Short Story Competition. She is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Roehampton University, and a Senior Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy.

Leone Ross’s short story collection, Come Let Us Sing Anyway, was published in June 2017 by Peepal Tree Press. She lives in London and is working on a third novel.

Due to issues beyond our control, Fiston Mujila, previously listed as part of the line-up, is unable to join us.


Name: Writing the Rhythm
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: Full Price: £12.00
Member: £8.00
Senior 60+: £10.00
Student: £8.00
Registered Unemployed: £8.00
Under 18: £8.00
Friend of the British Library: £8.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546