Had lots of fun last night at City University as one of the guest speakers at an event organised by EQUIP (Equality in Publishing
). [Thank you, Bobby Nayyar for all the hard work putting the event together!] Tim Godfray from Booksellers Association
spoke about the changes experienced by the bookselling industry and the challenges of opening and sustaining a bookshop, while Jen Campbell
, author of Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops
, shared more hilarious anecdotes from her experience as a bookseller, as well as her passionate belief in supporting local bookshops.
Moi? Well, I was there to share W&T's story -- the lessons we'd learnt from opening a bookshop, what bookselling is about, what it's been like to close down and in the midst of reopening again -- that sort of thing. [Shivaun *wink* *wink* Sorry folks, this one's an inside joke
And... Ahem, this is something I never realised till now. Sheesh, I pull a lot of faces when I'm speaking! While the other speakers look dignified and knowledgeable when they gave their talk, I kinda looked like I was auditioning for a cross between a comedy club sketch or a musical... eek.
But seriously, it was an informative and fun evening, and more importantly, inspiring -- a reminder almost to keep keeping on. Thank you to my team members who came along to lend some support and for the lovely company at dinner afterwards.
New Yorker Vanessa Hidary a.k.a. Hebrew Mamita performed an awesome set of poetry and short stories from her book The Last Kaiser Roll In The Bodega at W&T on 19 December 2012. We were very fortunate to have Vanessa at our venue for her only London performance during this trip. (Her next stop is Limmud 2012 at Coventry.) It was a spellbinding performance - a mixture of humour and heart that captivated everyone in the room. Thank you Vanessa for dropping by and mesmerising us. Thank you to the North London Yiddish choir led by Robin Rubenstein for kicking off the night with a wonderful medley.
If you missed tonight's performance or would like to check out Vanessa's work, visit her YouTube channel below:
'Twas a dreary, rainswept and bitterly cold day, with strong gusts of wind and even an uprooted tree in the square. Nevertheless, those brave enough to venture into Bermondsey to enjoy the day's Halloween activities could be spotted -- children waiting for facepainting opportunities at the reception, audience members listening to ghost stories at W&T, and Victorian-themed performers belting out raucous tunes in the square. Thank you again to Vanessa and Nigel for the creepy Dickens-themed stories and special FX :) For the courageous who would not be thwarted by the weather, it was another fantastic Boo! At Bermondsey celebration.
Evil enchanted forests, an unlikely heroine, unfair battles fought for love, unhealthy obssessions with breasts, triangular love theories...
Psychotherapies, dental health care and the effects of prozac...
Nothing was sacred at the comedy session at W&T on Wednesday 24 October when Rosie Wilby presented her latest show 'Absolute Love' and Liz Bentley took us on a psychedelic trip into her mind and life via 'AAA Rating: Age, Anxiety and Alzheimers.' Thank you to all who joined us and we hope your sanity was intact at the end of the night!
Jasia Reichardt spoke of her motivations in publishing her memoir, Fifteen Journeys: Warsaw to London, at W&T on 19 October 2012 through an illustrated talk, featuring images of artwork and texts that most influenced her as a child in prewar Warsaw. This included artwork and illustrations created by her aunt (Franciszka Themerson) and mother (Maryla Weinles-Chaykin), who was a children's illustrator. It is befitting that Jasia is now the custodian of the Themerson Archive, as her career has also spanned the art world. She was Assistant Director of the ICA in London, 1963-71, and Director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1974-76. Since 1995, with her partner, the artist Nick Wadley, she has catalogued and curated the Themerson Archive. Last night, Jasia brought to life the creative influences which have shaped her journey by sharing Polish children's songs she grew up with, as well as the beautiful artworks that surrounded her as a child. Her poignant memoir is a record of that tumultous 6-year period in her life, accented by the letters, postcards and illustrations from that time.
Southwark LGBT Network hosted Clare B. Dimyon MBE of PRIDE Solidarity at its monthly event at W&T on 5 Sept 2012. Since 2007 Clare has travelled every year to attend PRIDE events around central and eastern Europe and to offer love and solidarity to LGBT people, their families and friends (“LGBT+”). She has recently returned from flying the rainbow flag at the Euro2012 football championship in support of LGBT+ in Ukraine.
Claire shared a mix of sad stories, moving stories, unexpected stories and funny stories, such as almost having her MBE medal confiscated by Ukrainian customs, but being rescued in the nick of time by Prince Charles!
Clare first travelled to Poland in 1995 with 500 condoms in her luggage in an effort to support gay and bisexual men in a newly emerging, independent Poland. In recent years she has engaged with British embassies, and through them with other EU and world embassies, to consolidate support for the human rights and dignity of LGBT+ people. Clare was behind the raising of the rainbow flag at British embassies in 2008 - historic firsts in Riga and Warsaw which were followed in 2009 by Bratislava and Budapest. The practice has now become common among LGBT-friendly embassies throughout central and eastern Europe. Clare’s work featured in Hillary Clinton’s PRIDE speeches in both 2010 and 2011.
Clare is a Quaker. She says this helps her to engage with religious believers, support LGBT believers and equip LGBT people with the best religious arguments for use in public discourse. In 2010, at the request of the Foreign Office, Clare was appointed MBE “for services to promoting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Central and Eastern Europe”. This was the very first citation to use the words “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender” rather than “equality” or “diversity”. You can read more about this memorable moment in British and LGBT history here: http://tinyurl.com/c2mksnv
Much more information about Clare’s work is on her Web site http://www.pridesolidarity.eu/
The not-for-profit indie publisher & Other Stories
hosted a line up of exciting talent at W&T on Thursday 23 August 2012 with the likes of British author-playwright-poet Deborah Levy (whose Swimming Home has been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize), Swiss author Christoph Simon and the Argentinian author Iosi Havilio. Discussions following the reading included the mechanics of publishing translated works, the challenges of indie publishing, and what it takes to be an author. & Other Stories is a unique entity, with many of their translated non-English works cherry-picked through reading groups worldwide. Visit their website if you'd like to get involved in the reading groups or to follow their progress. To help support the work of & Other Stories, you can also subscribe on a once-off or annual basis to receive upcoming publications, so check those options out here
. Thank you to everyone from & Other Stories, and the authors and translators, who made the literary evening a very special one. And oh yes, last but not least, the Swiss Embassy for the flow of sparkling wine! (Hic!)
Southwark LGBT Network
hosts a monthly event at W&T on the first Wednesday of every month. We had a special treat yesterday (1 August 2012) with Justin Varney sharing his encyclopaedic knowledge about Queer Culinary Adventures and recipes, plus lots of yummy treats. (I didn't know Kylie Kwong was gay!) Yours truly contributed to the event with a visual journey of Malaysian food and offerings of the all-time favourite, Malaysian Chicken Curry. On top of that, Mark Healey
, founder of 17-24-30 No To Hate Crime organisation, who was the torchbearer through the Lewisham leg of the Olympic torch relay, was on hand with his London 2012 torch to raise funds for the organisation. 17-24-30 have organised a London vigil against Hate Crime on 20 Oct 7pm-9pm at Trafalgar Square, so join in!
Author Deborah Moggach, acclaimed author of "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" was at Canada Water Library on 31 July 2012 to talk about her life and work.
Deborah's many successful novels include:
"These Foolish Things" - a tale of outsourcing the elderly to India. Recently filmed as "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel", it received critical acclaim and commercial success. "In the Dark" - the story of Eithne Clay, running a boarding house in Southwark in 1916 while her husband is off at War. Quirky characters and a shocking denoument make this a must-read. "Tulip Fever" - "Moggach reproduces the coded language of 17th century Dutch art with subtle artfulness. At the same time, she tells a truly thrilling love story." The Financial Times. Deborah's screenplays include the BAFTA nominated film of "Pride and Prejudice".
What price would you pay to bring the truth to light? To document events and lives in far-flung places known for repression and violence? In this fascinating event held last night, Maziar Bahari and Ben Rawlence shared about their experiences on the field in Iran and Congo respectively.
Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari left London in June 2009 to cover Iran’s presidential election, believing he’d return to his pregnant fiancée, Paola, in just a few days, a week at most. In fact he would spend the next three months in Iran’s most notorious prison, enduring brutal interrogation sessions while terrible threats were made to his family. The account of his ordeal is captured in his book Then They Came For Me. Ben Rawlence's Radio Congo: Signals of Hope from Africa’s Deadliest War is the first book to show the Congolese as people, not victims. Ben travelled on foot, by boat and by motorbike from North Kivu to Manono to document life in the aftermath of brutal upheaval.