Category Archives: Events

Pick up a banned book and celebrate the freedom to read with Banned Books Week 24-30 September 2017

A coalition of UK-based organisations will host a variety of panels, events and discussions this month to explore the freedom to read as part of the internationally-celebrated Banned Books Week.

Beginning with a workshop on 16 September hosted by Spread the Word and Islington Libraries and running until 30 September, the goal is to raise awareness about the many ways literature and ideas are censored – and celebrate our freedom to read.

Censorship isn’t something that happens far away. It has happened in the UK. In every library there are books that British citizens have been blocked from reading at various times. As citizens and literature lovers we must be constantly vigilant to guard against the erosion of our freedom to read, Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship said.

Events include an evening of discussion with Melvyn Bragg and guests on The Satanic Verses controversy at the British Library; a discussion on the “unsayable” with cartoonist Martin Rowson; authors Patrice Lawrence and Alex Wheatle on writing for young people; and David Aaronovitch and guests exploring tactics used to censor voices around the world at Free Word.

Lisa Appignanesi, chair of the RSL, said: It’s an irony that the list of books banned over the last centuries, whether by religious or political authorities jealous of their power, constitutes the very best of our literatures. From the Bible to Thomas Paine, Flaubert, G.B. Shaw to Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex and Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, some of the greatest of our books have been banned somewhere. Luckily humans have a way of valuing the prohibited and cherishing liberty; and this as George Orwell reminded us, ‘means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.’

Islington Libraries has produced a list of some of the world’s best-known banned books for the occasion and is encouraging everyone to pick up a banned book.

Islington Council’s executive member for economic development, Cllr Asima Shaikh, said: Islington – one-time home of George Orwell, Douglas Adams and Salman Rushdie himself – has a rich history of radical thought and creative expression and innovation, making it a natural fit with Banned Books Week.

Our libraries are places which celebrate diversity of opinion and encourage new and interesting ideas. As a borough we continue to challenge censorship and encourage free speech, and we are very proud to be involved in such a great celebration.

Celebrated works of literature that have experienced bans or censorship include Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.

For more information, please contact Sean Gallagher, Index on Censorship, on sean@indexoncensorship.org.

Full schedule of Banned Books Week events

  • 16 September: Research for fiction writers with Kerry Young
    Presented by Spread the Word
    Award-winning author, Kerry Young, is running a workshop for writers who want to research and write characters from a range of backgrounds.

  • 22 September: Patrice Lawrence and Alex Wheatle in conversation
    Presented by Archway With Words
    ArchWay With Words presents a thrilling event with two of Britain’s most exciting, prize-winning writers who tell stories about young people.

  • 24 September: How far can you go in speaking the unspeakable?
    Presented by Index on Censorship and Pembroke College
    What is the place of the satirist in our age of controversies? The irreverent cartoonist Martin Rowson, of The Guardian and Index on Censorship magazine, joins publisher Joanna Prior of Penguin Random House for what promises to be a coruscating conversation.

  • 26 September: Censored: A Literary History of Subversion and Control
    Presented by the British Library
    Katherine Inglis and Matthew Fellion, authors of a fascinating new book on suppressed literature, explore the methods and consequences of censorship and some of the most contentious and fascinating cases.

  • 27 September: What happens when ideas are silenced?
    Presented by Index on Censorship and Free Word
    Join award-winning journalist David Aaronovitch in conversation with Irish author Claire Hennessy and publisher Lynn Gaspard, as they explore what happens when ideas are silenced. With readings by Moris Farhi and Bidisha.

  • 27 September: Censored at The Book Hive, Norwich
    Presented by Index on Censorship
    Join Index on Censorship magazine Deputy Editor Jemimah Steinfeld in conversation with Matthew Fellion and Katherine Inglis, authors of the new book Censored: A Literary History of Subversion and Control.

  • 28 September: How censorship stifles debate
    Presented by the Limerick City Trust
    Index on Censorship CEO Jodie Ginsberg will speak about how censorship stifles debate and undermines the tenets of free and democratic societies.

  • 28 September: Standing with Salman
    Presented by the British Library and the Royal Society of Literature
    Nearly 20 years after Salman Rushdie was forced into hiding following the publication of The Satanic Verses, members of the Salman Rushdie Campaign Group re-unite to talk about their fight for freedom of expression.

  • 30 September: J G Ballard’s Crash: On Page and Screen
    Presented by the British Library
    Revisit the shock of symphorophilia with Will Self and Chris Beckett, editor of a new edition of Crash. Their discussion is followed by a rare chance to see the uncut version of David Cronenberg’s 1996 film adaptation on the big screen.

  • Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty at The British Library

    A free exhibition

    1895, the trial of Oscar Wilde. 2017, the pardoning of gay men by the ‘Alan Turing Law’. How far have we come in 122 years?

    Personal testimony. Public protest. Art and culture. We tell the story of love, legislative change and the battles for equality experienced by gay men and women in the UK. 50 years after the Sexual Offences Act partially decriminalised homosexuality, our exhibition looks at the build up to this monumental step, its impact, and asks what challenges still remain.

    Exhibition highlights include:

  • Original campaign material, journals and posters from groups such as the Gay Liberation Front, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners and Outrage!
  • Sarah Waters’ notebook with character notes that she used while writing Tipping the Velvet, going on public display for the first time
  • Hanif Kureishi’s annotated script for My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) and continuity polaroids from the set
  • The first edition of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando alongside a sound recording of Vita Sackville-West from 1954 talking about the inspiration for the book
  • Kenneth Williams’ diary entry from 9 August 1967, which covers the murder of his friend, playwright and author Joe Orton
  • Annotated script for A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney (1958)
  • Commissioned film by performer and artist Dickie Beau exploring the decriminalisation of homosexuality
  • Rachel Foss, Lead Curator of Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty at the British Library, says:

    “Since the passing of the Sexual Offences Act fifty years ago, there has been a transformation in society’s attitudes towards gay love and expression. Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty tells this story through objects and documents that are iconic, public, personal or seemingly ephemeral. These objects and documents are the tangible evidence of a living history that is fragmented, punctuated by gaps and still evolving. I hope that the exhibition will prompt visitors to consider not only how far we as a society have come but also, crucially, what still needs to be done to combat prejudice and realise true equality.”

    The British Library will be hosting an accompanying season of events to provoke debate on past and present understandings of individual identity, reflecting on how far we have come as a society.

    Event highlights include:

  • Jon Savage: 1967 A Summer of Love?, writer, broadcaster and filmmaker Jon Savage reflects on the social, cultural, sexual and political climate of a season of change
  • The Gender Games: Juno Dawson in Conversation, author Juno Dawson provides a personal insight into society’s expectations of gender
  • David Bowie Made Me Gay, a discussion on the transformation, impact and influence of LGBTQ+ music makers featuring broadcaster Simone Fanshawe, writers Julie Burchill and Darryl Bullock alongside DJ Princess Julia and performer K Anderson
  • Proud Poetry, featuring Maureen Duffy, Jackie Kay, Andrew McMillan, Richard Scott and Nick Drake reading their own poetry
  • See more at: https://www.bl.uk/events/gay-uk-love-law-liberty/

    Towel Day

    Towel Day is an annual celebration on the 25th of May, as a tribute to the late author Douglas Adams (1952-2001). On that day, fans around the universe carry a towel in his honour.

    I have created three posters to celebrate Towel Day, the designs are mine but the words are by Douglas Adams himself.

    To download click on the images and save.

    Neal Zetter poetry workshops for Children & Young People

    The 2017 SRC theme is Animal Agents so I have put together a special Animal Rap & Rhyme session which I am hoping you’ll be keen to book me for in summer.

    Linking to the theme I am offering:

  • an interactive funny animal poems performance
  • fun with words including my animal alliteration game
  • the chance for children to create their own animal tongue twister poems
  • the opportunity for children to meet a real live author, poet, entertainer and buy signed copies of my books if they wish containing many animal poems (I have two new books out in 2017)
  •  
    And

  • it’s for 6-12 yrs olds – but nobody is turned away, parents/carers/siblings welcome
  • Cost = £110 + Oyster
  • I am currently free all summer up to and including 18 August
  •  
    Please let me know if you’d be interested even though it may be early days

    Neal Zetter
    neal@cccpworkshops.co.uk

    cccpworkshops.co.uk
    020 8529 6608

    Teen Take-Over of Local Libraries

    A Place Free of Judgement by Blast Theory and Tony White

    On 29 October 2016, over the course of 9 hours, teenagers in Worcester, Telford and Cannock will be taking control of their local libraries, and performing live to a worldwide audience. Through a unique project supported by Arts Connect and ASCEL West Midlands, the group have been working with award-winning artists Blast Theory and author Tony White to re-imagine libraries, storytelling and their place in the world. This work will come to life in an ambitious and fun 9-hour takeover of the three libraries, starting in Telford (3pm – 6pm), then Cannock (6pm – 9pm) and ending in Worcester (9pm – midnight).

    The young people involved have been invited to reimagine the role of libraries as cultural centres and explore the power of storytelling. The stories that have been developed from the workshops will be told in three consecutive performances which will be streamed live on http://aplacefreeofjudgement.co.uk from 3pm – midnight Saturday 29 October 2016. This ground breaking project forges a new approach to collaborative arts engagement between artists, teenagers, audiences and local authorities.

    The role of libraries is under scrutiny and this project shows how they are evolving: taking risks to inspire visitors to think differently about the world around them.

    Ju Row Farr, artist with Blast Theory explains: They have driven stories in challenging directions. They are hilarious one minute and moving the next. The teenagers stake out the power of books, stories and libraries in our lives.

    Author Tony White comments: It has been an incredible privilege to work with really inspiring and creative young people in Cannock, Telford, Worcester, and beyond, and I’ve learned a huge amount from all involved. When so many libraries are closing and under threat, I’m glad to have seen again first-hand the vital role that libraries and librarians play for young people today, and to have been reminded of just how important my local library was to me when I was their age. With A Place Free of Judgement, I feel that we are giving something back, and I hope people enjoy it.

    The project is being delivered by a partnership of six library services as part of the ASCEL national membership network. Blast Theory and author Tony White have been in residence in three libraries, one in each local authority area of Staffordshire’s Cannock Library, Telford & Wrekin’s Southwater One and Worcestershire’s St John’s Library. In addition, library services in Solihull, Dudley and Shropshire are working with groups of young people to take part in the project online.

    How to Take Part

    On Saturday 29 October, between 3pm and midnight, anyone can log in to interact with the young people streaming live online at http://aplacefreeofjudgement.co.uk. Unfolding over three consecutive events at libraries, the teenagers will talk to you about personal stories and strange ideas and what they mean to both of you. Together you will make up stories and hide them in amongst the books. And, as the evening builds, a new story by acclaimed author Tony White comes to life with a reading every hour.
    Visitors are invited to come and hear the readings in person on Saturday 29 October:

    • 3.30pm Telford Southwater Library (TF3 4JG)
    • 6.30pm Cannock Library (WS11 1AA)
    • 9.30pm Worcester, St John’s Library (WR2 5AX)

    Visit http://aplacefreeofjudgement.co.uk to book your place.

    The finished book will be published later in the year. If you are interested in receiving a copy, please contact Ju Row Farr – ju@blasttheory.co.uk 01273413455

    Midlands School Library Camp 2015

    For the second year running the Midlands will host a School Library Camp.
    This year we have decamped (sorry!) to the north of the region and the 2015 event will be held at the University of Derby’s main campus at Keddleston Road.

    More details about the location here:
    http://bit.ly/1xIw5hB

    The event is taking place on Saturday 11th July. Doors open 10:00 and we expect to be finished and wiping up cake crumbs by 3:00pm.

    Click here for more information and to grab your free tickets: http://bit.ly/1BMdw0l

    At last year’s event we discussed all sorts of stuff from our policies towards noise to using Minecraft. What will you discuss this year?

    Pitch your ideas or see what others want to talk about here: http://bit.ly/1IyvsZo

    Talk Nerdy 2 Me

    Crazy about Cosplay? Starry-eyed over Star Trek or Wars? Maybe you even get dotty over the Doctor! Even if you are new to nerding, everybody is welcome to get their geek on at Talk Nerdy 2 Me (TN2M) on Friday 8th May at the Harris Library in Preston!

    There will be a wide range of guests from Matt “Mecha-Man” Dickinson to Deborah Simms from the Great British Sewing Bee. It will be an evening of activities and competitions, including stalls from Game, Waterstones, the comic shop and many more.

    This year there will also be sign language interpreters at all the talks and panels.

    Fore the altest up to date news about guestsand events check out the Talk Nerdy 2 Me Facebook page and book a free ticket (to guarantee entrance) here: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/talk-nerdy-2-me-preston-tickets-16672436707 and follow them on twitter: @talknerdytwome

    Holocaust Memorial Day Pack

    I got back to my library today to find that the Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) Pack that I ordered from the HMD Trust had arrived while I was away.

    The theme for this years memorial is Keep the Memory Alive

    As with the 2014 pack it contains a lapel pin, posters commemorating the Holocaust, the Genocides in Darfur, Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia, Nazi persecution of minority groups, a sticker set, a leaflet detailing the importance of remembering what has happened and ideas and tips on organising activities centred around HMD as well as how to publicise them.

    2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the 20th anniversary of the Genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia

    20150102_151936 (1)

    Holocaust Memorial Day takes place on the 27th January, there is still time to order or download a pack here http://hmd.org.uk/campaign-pack

    Young Adult Literature Con 2014

    Yalc news logo
    Well this week the YA literary blogosphere has been afire with people raving about the Young Adult Literary Convention that took place this past weekend under the wings of the London Film & Comic Con.

    I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with conventions – I love meeting authors & actors seeing friends in the audience and among the people displaying their wares and seeing the cosplayers BUT I really do not enjoy massive crowds of people, in the past my con of choice has been the MCM Expo in Docklands, followed closely by the LFCC but as con culture has grown in the UK so have the crowds and navigating my way through packed gang-ways makes my want to run away screaming. My past survival technique have always been to get in early, see as much as I can and get out before it gets unmanageable.

    You want to know something cool? – I was at YALC on the Sunday and it was utterly magnificent! I was fortunate enough to be invited to a blogger breakfast chat on Sunday morning. The brunch featured appearances by Holly Black, Matt Haig, Non Pratt and James Dawson who each gave a short introduction and promotion of their books followed by a meet & mingle with coffee, juice and croissants.

    ezgif.com-resizeJames Dawson being crowned by Rosi Crawley with Non Pratt, Matt Haig & Holly Black seated from left to right next to them

    My personal highlights of YALC 2014 (in no particular order) were:

    Catching up with wonderful human beings Non Pratt and His Majesty James Dawson the new Queen of Teen
    Meeting Matt Haig and chatting about the importance of libraries, reading and the differences between school and public libraries
    Seeing (and speaking to) Jim and Darren who were (I think) the only two other male bloggers at the blogger brunch
    Speaking to Nina, Rosi & Harriet in person for a change rather than being at the other end of an e-mail
    Giving my Ruin & Rising tote bag to a passing teen who had a total fan-girl meltdown when she saw it (she told me she was looking forward to reading book 3 so much and loved my bag and did I know if she could get one if there were any more left)
    Meeting the Chapter 5 team (who are also the amazing Hodderscape team) and having a mutual admiration chat – they recognized me because I borrowed their table sign for a Lego Han Solo pic
    legohasyalc
    white barrier

    Chatting to the Hot Key Books team, getting a hug from Sara O’Connor and a proof of Clariel thus earning my love and dedication for life.
    wewereliarsclariel
    white barrier

    Finding the 2000AD stand, speaking to Lydia Gittens and discovering that they have a YA imprint called Ravenstone
    Being surrounded by my people the book fans, people that geek out when meeting authors and receiving signed books
    Catching up with my friends Doctor Manhattan and Zuul (aka Shaun & Jackie)
    20140713_113938zuul
    white barrier
    Things that I did not do that I really wanted to:
    Attend the opening on the first day
    Speak to Holly Black – no idea how this did not happen, we were in the same area for ages!
    Get a seat at any of the talks – I hung around the back and listened to some but I was too hot and dressed inappropriately to get comfortable
    Find any number of friends, authors and associates that I knew were there but did not seem able to locate

    What I will do next year:
    Book early entry tickets way in advance then arrive early to make sure there is none of that hanging around for hours in a queue to buy tickets
    Take at least two water bottles
    Wear light and airy clothes
    Arrange to go in with a group of friends for mutual defence and protection
    Be aware what* is happening, where and at what times
    *panels, workshops & author signings

    The most important thing anyone can do is support the YALC organisers and agitate for it to become an annual occurrence, this was the first one and it was amazing, I truly believe that next year will be even more spectacular and will do what I can to make sure it happens!

    ezgif.com-resize (1)

    Geek Night Revisited

    Last night I was at the Deptford Lounge Library in conversation with authors Mark Walden, Rohan Gavin and Steve Feasey for the inaugural Geek Night organised by The Reading Agency and Bloomsbury Books.

    I arrived just after 5pm and chatted to Paolo, one of the Deptford Lounge librarians and Caroline Fielding until the authors arrived along with Ian Lamb and Charli Haynes from Bloomsbury.

    Deptford Lounge is a geek heaven, one of the things we noticed was the film’s they will be showing over the next few weeks, this included Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Them!, Invasion of the Body Snatchers Star Wars, Godzilla and other science fiction greats. Apparently it is fairly inexpensive to get the rights to show films if you do not advertise them outside the building that you are going to show them in.
    geek panel
    Last night was the first time I had met Steve, Mark and Rohan although I had attended events that they were also at, but our paths had never crossed.

    For a first-time event the evening ran remarkably smoothly. I was almost superfluous to requirements as, except for posing questions in the lulls between conversation the talk flowed effortlessly between the authors about their geeky interests and what inspired their books to whether or not the Moon Landing had been faked (consensus was that it was in fact real) and other topics of personal and geeky interest. The talks elicited laughs from the small but perfectly formed audience who seemed engaged throughout the hour.

    Our talk also touched on why geeks seem to be typified by socially maladroit men and why sports geeks have always seemed to be socially accepted at the expense of the comic reading and gaming groups. This led on to a pointed discussion as to why some parts of (male) geekdom turned on their geeky sisters with the “fake geek girl” accusations and threats over the past few years.

    Geek panel close up

    The evening wrapped up with questions from the audience which included a shout-out to top trumps and Joss Whedon as geek culture’s primary go to guy for mainstream acceptance.

    Knightley & Son is Rohan Gavin’s first novel and reflects his love for Sherlock Holmes and criminal conspiracy tales.

    Mutant City is the first novel in a new series by Steve Feasey and has echoes of Mega City 1 and the X-Men as well as the current real world fascination of genetic manipulation and repressive governments.

    Earth Fall by Mark Walden is a modern take of alien invasion and resistance but removing the use of FTL travel and having aliens use other means of infiltrating and directing the human race.

    Three completely different novels but each influenced by the varied geeky interests of the authors.
    Geek line up

    Photographs by Andrea Reece and Caroline Fielding.