As if that weren’t enough, summer at the Southbank will kick-start the year-long residency of popular live poetry collective Out-Spoken, as well as hosting London’s leading LGBTQ+ literary salon, Polari. Read on for more details about the highlights.
Best-selling writers present new books
Jeanette Winterson photographed by Sam Churchill
Imagine that Alan Turing didn’t die in 1954, but lived on and, in the 1980s, facilitated a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. That’s what Ian McEwan’s latest novel, Machines Like Me, asks readers to do. In conversation, McEwan will reflect on questions at the forefront of our cultural consciousness—and how he’s responded to them in his 40-year writing career.
McEwan’s not the only one interested in AI. Jeanette Winterson’s new novel Frankissstein asks: ‘What will happen when homo sapiens is no longer the smartest being on the planet?’ Winterson will take to the stage to discuss her latest, technological take on themes her previous work has addressed: sexuality, identity and creation.
At the other end of the spectrum, Robert Macfarlane’s work eschews technology and focuses on what is as old as the hills: landscapes. Building on his previous bestsellers, which plumb the depths of the UK’s natural history, Macfarlane’s latest book Underland is a globetrotting exploration of ‘the worlds beneath our feet’. At the Southbank Centre, Macfarlane will talk about his findings: from the mysterious ways that trees communicate to the depths of Greenland’s ancient glaciers.
London's leading live poetry evening begins a year-long residency
Inua Ellams photographed by Oliver Holms
Popular poetry collective Out-Spoken will take up residence at the Southbank Centre this summer, to spend a year platforming the finest contemporary work from around the world.
The maiden event will be headlined by poet, playwright and performer Inua Ellams. This new, young fellow of the Royal Society of Literature authored Barber Shop Chronicles, which had two sell-out runs at the National Theatre and is transferring to Camden’s The Roundhouse.
From then on, Out-Spoken will host monthly live poetry readings. The second will be headlined by poet Kei Miller—whose 2014 collection The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion won the Forward prize for its intricate, richly dense and flexible vision of the poet’s native Jamaica.
The collective will also host monthly masterclasses, starting with a workshop led by Out-Spoken’s founder Anthony Anaxagorou called ‘When is a poem finished?’
Debut novelists take to the stage
Candice Carty-Williams photographed by Lily Richards
In keeping with their commitment to showcasing emerging talent as well as literary stars, the Southbank will host two of the most fascinating debut novelists of the season.
Destined to be essential reading this summer, Queenie is ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah’. Candice Carty-Williams’ debut novel follows the life of a newly single, 25-year-old Londoner—a Jamaican British woman who’s working at a national newspaper, surrounded by white, middle-class colleagues. Carty-Williams will discus the novel in conversation with the broadcaster June Sarpong.
He might be a debut novelist, but Ocean Vuong has plenty of publishing experience: his 2017 poetry collection Night Sky with Exit Wounds won the TS Eliot Prize with its exploration of the cultural upheaval caused by war in the poet’s native Vietnam. His debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, builds on themes of loss and displacement in the form of ‘a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read’.
Late-night readings in the National Poetry Library
Celebrated South Korean poet, Kim Hyesoon
In spring, the Southbank Centre launched a new series of poetry salons in its National Poetry Library—which boasts the world’s largest collection of modern and contemporary poetry. The National Poetry Library Lates will be renewed in the summer season; so far, details of two evenings have been released.
The first edition is a showcase of two superlative South Korean poets, including Kim Hyesoon—the first woman to receive the prestigious Kim Su-yông and Midang awards.
The second edition will showcase the work of Mary Jean Chan, a Hong Kong based poet whose debut collection Flèche is published this summer. Judging by the sneak previews readers have had, the volume likely to feature on plenty of prizes’ shortlists.
Best of the rest
Dustin Lance Black, photographed by Paul Romo
In collaboration with London’s leading LGBTQ+ literary salon Polari, the Southbank Centre will host Academy Award winning filmmaker Dustin Lance Black. As part of an evening that will announce the longlist of the Polari First Book Prize, Lance Black will present his new memoir, Mama’s Boy.
To celebrate International Workers’ Day, a panel will discuss what it means to be working class in Britain today. The conversation is led by Kit de Waal, editor of a new anthology named Common People which spotlights writers from a working class background.
Having hosted the Man Booker Prize for years, this year the Southbank Centre will host its international equivalent. The night before the winner is announced, shortlisted authors will read from work that defies our usual understanding of history and geography.
The full programme can be viewed here
|What||Summer 2019 Literature Season, Southbank Centre|
|Where||Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Embankment (underground)|
15 Apr 19 – 07 Aug 19, Event throughout the afternoon and evening
|Website||Click here for more information|