Leeds Literature Festival “Out Of Many Lit” to feature Linton Kwesi Johnson & Jamaica’s Poet Laureate, Olive Senior

Poet Laureate of Jamaica Olive Senior at Out of Many Lit in Leeds - photo Alex Rice

Award-winning dub poetry pioneer Linton Kwesi Johnson and poets laureate Simon Armitage and Olive Senior are coming to Leeds as part of a five-day literature festival.

The festival, Out of Many Lit, runs from October 4-8 and promises both a celebration and exploration of Jamaican literature.

It kicks off with Laureate to Laureate, an evening of literary excellence featuring Jamaica’s Olive Senior and the UK’s Simon Armitage at Howard Assembly Room on Tuesday, October 4.

It will be chaired by Leeds-based author and academic Jason Allen-Paisant, the winner of the OCM Bocas Prize for poetry in 2022.

In addition to a packed schedule of events later in the week, Linton Kwesi Johnson (LKJ) will be in conversation with journalist Gary Younge at Howard Assembly Room on Friday, October 7.

Linton Kwesi Johnson courtesy Speaking Volumes

Linton Kwesi Johnson – Photo courtesy of Speaking Volumes

LKJ is only the second living poet to have their work (Mi Revalueshanary Fren) included in Penguin’s Modern Classics, and will read from his poetry that has captured the mood and feelings of Black Britain at critical moments while championing the fight against injustice and racial inequality.

And, in a day-long series of events on Saturday, October 8, Calabash Presents will see Jamaica’s much-loved Calabash International Literary Festival in Leeds instead of Treasure Beach, curated by Calabash co-founders Kwame Dawes and Justine Henzell.

Emmy Award-winning writer Kwame Dawes will take to the stage in conversation with Yvonne Brewster OBE and introduce a tribute to the late Godmother of Dub Poetry, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, as well as a stellar line up of writers of Jamaican heritage;

UK fiction: Sara Collins (Confessions of Frannie Langton), Kerry Young (Pao; Gloria), Alex Wheatle (Cane Warriors; Kemosha of the Caribbean), Courttia Newland (A River Called Time; this year shortlisted for a Clarke Award).

Poetry: The UK’s Hannah Lowe (The Kids, 2021 Costa Book of the Year) and Raymond Antrobus (To Sweeten Bitter) will be joined by Jamaica’s Tanya Shirley (The Merchant of Feathers).

Out of Many Lit is part of the Jamaica Society Leeds’ Out of Many Festival, a nine-month celebration of Jamaican culture marking 60 years of independence.

Out of Many Festival director Susan Pitter said: “It is thrilling to have such high-calibre authors in Leeds as part of Out of Many Lit; Jamaican literature should be celebrated and lauded and we are so pleased to have this opportunity to do so.”

Laureate to Laureate is staged in collaboration with the British Library and the National Library of Jamaica, in partnership with the Howard Assembly Room and with the support of Leeds City Council.

“We are so pleased to be involved in Out of Many Lit and are really looking forward to the rich conversations that will undoubtedly emerge from the stellar line-up. This collaboration is a great opportunity for the Library to build on our growing programme of cultural events in Leeds,” said Kenn Taylor, Lead Culture Producer, British Library.

Poet Laureate of Jamaica Olive Senior at Out of Many Lit in Leeds - photo Alex Rice

Poet Laureate of Jamaica Olive Senior – Photo Alex Rice

Beverley Lashley, the National Librarian of Jamaica agrees, saying:

“The National Library of Jamaica stands in full support of the much-anticipated ‘Laureate to Laureate’ event which will launch the Out of Many Lit Festival in Leeds, UK. Olive Senior is Jamaica’s third Poet Laureate since our Independence and is one of the foremost voices in Jamaican/Caribbean poetry. This occasion is especially important to rekindling bonds with our family and friends across the diaspora, as we celebrate Jamaica 60. We congratulate the conveners and partners of the festival and look forward to a riveting programme.”

Other Out of Many Lit events include a Literary Brunch and Masterclass, Pass it On showcasing young participants’ creative writing responses to conversations with first- and second-generation West Indians, and Kinship, a cabaret-style evening of spoken word and music staged in association with WritersMosaic.

More information visit the Jamaica Society Leeds

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