Breaking ground for BAME writers

Leone Ross, a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing and Alumnus, Joshua Idehen are set to feature in a new project that celebrates the most talented contemporary writers of colour in the UK.

Photo Credit: pixabay.com/stocksnap

Over the next 12 months, Leone Ross, Joshua Idehen and other BAME writers will visit four different cities in Europe to promote their work. They are part of the ‘Breaking Ground’, a project established through a Literature organisation called ‘Speaking Volumes’ founded in 2010 by two women, Sharmilla Beezmohun and Sarah Sanders. The project aims to raise the profile of 200 BAME authors on a global scale with a brochure set to showcase their contributions to developing British Literature.

Beezmohun said, “Despite concerted efforts across decades, BAME authors are still are not being published, programmed in festivals or given the same opportunities as white writers.”

“The publishing industry is also not very diverse and the ‘gatekeepers or tastemakers’ are therefore less likely to give BAME writers the same opportunities. If we can make the wealth of BAME writing visible and that these writers can sell books and tickets, the publishing industry will have NO reason to ignore this part of the population.”

“We created a list which balances prose and poetry, genders, ethnicities, newer voices with more established writers,” she adds.

Photo Credit: Leone Ross

Award-Winning Writer and Lecturer #BLACKGIRLMAGIC

Leone Ross was born in Coventry to Jamaican and Scottish parents. She currently has two novels under her belt and many short stories including her newest book ‘Come Let Us Sing Anyway’ which is a collection of 23 short stories ranging from horror, literary fiction, magical realism and erotica. She teaches the ‘Writing Fiction’ module at Roehampton.

“I’ve been trying to write well since I was about 6 years old, so it always feels great to be recognised for the work that I do, as it is in no way well-paid, but it can be very glam,” she says.

“The accepted narrative in the publishing industry is twofold: that BAME writers are hard to find and to market. This championing of 200 of us is intended to remind people that we are here and that our work is widespread and varied and viable as product.”

“There could be 200 more BAME writers in addition to the one showcased here. The organisers don’t just ‘hope’ — they intend to promote and tour us all, so that our work can be seen, nationally and internationally.”

Photo Credit: Joshua Idehen

From Roehampton Grad to Mercury Prize Nominee

The second BAME writer is Joshua Idehen, who was born in London to Nigerian parents. He is a renowned poet, musician and was the founder of Poejazzi — a successful online magazine and poetry event. To date, Joshua has released 4 critically acclaimed albums, performed at major festivals in front of thousands of people and was nominated for a Mercury Prize Award in 2016.

“I’ve been very busy in the last 11 years and it feels good to finally be living off my art,” Joshua said.

“Any form of exposure and recognition is appreciated, I’ve spent my entire career trying to be different from everyone else but I’ll be honest I don’t feel like one of the best yet, there’s still a lot more work to do.”

In May 2017, he released a brand new album titled ‘Love, Hugh’, a collaboration with London-band, Hugh. In upcoming months, he plans on working with bands Benin City and LV and spend more time on his solo material.

In the future, the ‘Breaking Ground’ booklet will be put into an online database to create a central accessible resource where anyone — from publishers to programmers to the general public can go to find out about the wealth and depth of talent of the UK’s writers of colour.

Follow Leone Ross…

Twitter: @LeoneRoss

To purchase her latest book, ‘Come Let Us Sing Anyway’: www.peepaltreepress.com/books/come-let-us-sing-anyway

And Joshua Idehen...

Twitter: @BeninCitizen

To preview, download and stream his latest album ‘Love, Hugh’: www.awal.lnk.to/LoveHugh

Written by Naomie Touré Samarou

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