Best Bookish (Online) Events July & August 2020

One of the few things that has made lockdown bearable is the way many authors, bookshops, book groups, festivals and individuals have adapted to the online space, making talks and events generally more accessible (if you have internet) and free (with the option of donating for those who can afford to). We’ve been in lockdown for almost four months now and I still haven’t got into the habit of adding these events to my calendar, so have unfortunately missed out on a few (luckily many of them, including the Haymarket Books Teach-Ins, are still available online). Some highlights have included watching Naomi Klein numerous times, along with Angela Davis and Arundhati Roy, the Hay Festival, WoW Global and many more.

Here are a few online events you may be interested in:

Pages of Hackney

What: Independent bookshop, Pages of Hackney, are hosting their first live event tonight (8th July) with a conversation between Naoise Dolan – whose debut book Exciting Times has been on all the anticipated 2020 releases lists as well as Bookstagram – and Olivia Sudjic (who I love). I’m not too interested in reading Dolan’s book but maybe this conversation will sway me. Later in the month Pages of Hackney have an event with Juno Roche and their book Trans Power (21st July).

When/Where: Tonight at 8pm BST and 21st July at 6pm BST on Instagram Live @pagesofhackney

Verso Live

What: To celebrate 50 years of Verso Books, this brilliant radical publishers are hosting events at the same time and day fortnightly up until the end of October. You can check out the full schedule here. Verso Books have been so good to us right from the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis and during the movement for Black Lives Matter, offering free ebooks and resources to better educate ourselves and unlearn what we’ve been taught in this capitalist, racist system.

The first talk starts this Thursday (9th July) with Laleh Khalili, author of Sinews of War and Trade, and Rowland Atkinson, author of Alpha City. They will be discussing ‘global flows of commodities, capital and people, as well as looking to the emerging horizons of change in a post-Covid world, and the likely impacts and changes on key urban centres’.

Other talks I’m looking forward to include: Judith Butler on the ethics of nonviolence; Priyamvada Gopel on media and publishing; Maya Goodfellow and Fernando Sdrigotti on workers rights and xenophobia in the UK; and Stella Dadzie and Suzanne Scafe on women and slavery.

When/Where: Live-streamed to Verso Books’ Facebook and YouTube page fortnightly on Thursdays at 6:30pm BST. You can register at Eventbrite for free (links via Verso Books website), the events will be available to watch after too.

‘Future Threads’ Digital Programme at The Mosaic Rooms

What: The Mosaic Rooms is a non-profit art gallery and bookshop that is dedicated to promoting contemporary culture from the Arab world and beyond. They currently have a free online programme called ‘Future Threads’ which includes film screenings, talks on current affairs and family workshops. You can find the full line-up here.

Events include an online conversation with Afghan-American visual artist Mariam Ghani (13th July) about her projects What We Left Unfinished and Dis-ease, the role of cultural institutions in times of global crisis (23rd July) with Fatos Ustek, Elvira Dyangami Ose and Mahmoud Abu Hashhash, and storytelling workshops with Elias Matar (4th July – 16th August).

When/Where: Sign up for free access on The Mosaic Rooms website. Most of the events are held via Zoom.

Black and Brit-ish by Black Cultural Archives

What: An evening of poetry delving into the complexity of being Black and British in conjunction with Poetic Unity, a Brixton-based charity giving a voice to the voiceless. Poets and spoken word artists include Rohan Samuel, Naomi Elle and Memo Brown amongst others.

When: 20th July at 7pm BST on @bcaheritage Instagram page.

The Lit Collective Sheffield Online Festival

What: The Lit Collective (TLC) Sheffield are a new book club in Sheffield for young womxn of colour (14-18), which arose out of the lack of representation in the core curriculum. I’m so excited for this festival which centres and celebrates womxn writers of colour. Events include discussions of sisters in literature, a conversation with poet Suhaiymah Manzoor Khan, an open mic night for womxn writers of colour, a creative writing workshop with Danae Wellington and an evening with Yvonne Battle-Fenton, author of Remembered. What makes this festival even more exciting is that it has been organised by young womxn of colour too. Find the full list of events and links to sign up here.

When/Where: From 23rd – 25th July, unless otherwise stated all events will be available to watch on YouTube.

Primadonna Festival

What: The Primadonna Festival in Suffolk began last year and was formed by a group of seventeen women from publishing and entertainment with the aim of giving prominence to work by women and spotlighting authors from the margins. This year they are organising online events which will include Kit de Waal, Mikki Kendall, Sinead Gleeson, Stella Duffy, Catherine Mayer, Dorothy Koomson, Anneka Harry and Monisha Rajesh. Find out more information here, with links to their YouTube channel too.

When/Where: From 31st July – 2nd August, content is free and will be available on their YouTube channel.

Revolution Is Not A One-Time Event, We See the Horizon: Abolition Now!

What: hosted by Silver Press, a brilliant feminist publisher in London (they brought together some of Audre Lorde’s powerful and essential speeches, essays and poetry in one volume for the first time in Your Silence Will Not Protect You), and organised by Che Gossett, Lola Olufemi and Sarah Shin, in collaboration with Akira, Revolution Is Not A One-Time Event is a schedule of online talks with activists, academics and artists as they reflect on abolition in practice every Monday throughout August.

This comes off the back of their hugely popular fundraiser, Revolution Is Not A One-Time Event, on 9 June 2020 for Black liberation (you can read the transcript here on The White Review). Unlike the other events I have included in this list, each event costs £5. Hopefully, each event will also be transcribed like the first to make it accessible to more people as it was such a life-affirming, inspiring and informative talk and I imagine these other ones will be too.

Find more information about the events and links to order tickets here.

When: Every Monday throughout August, hosted via Zoom. Tickets cost £5 for each event.

Bare Lit Online

What: Bare Lit Festival is an annual event, usually held in South East London, which brings together people of colour in the UK’s creative landscape for a weekend of talks, performances, debates, workshops and networking. Due to obvious reasons they had to put this on hold but have come back with a free virtual event series over the whole of August! You can find the line-up here, but some events I’m particularly looking forward to are: A Decade of Identity Poetry, A History of Women’s Writing with Royal Society of Literature, a reading with Meena Kandasamy and The Secret Life of Prisons podcast.

When/Where: Every Tuesday and Thursday from 4th August – 1st September on the Bare Lit website and the occasional Instagram Live @bare.lit.

Edinburgh International Book Festival

What: Full details of the online programme and how audiences can access events for free will be announced towards the end of July on the Edinburgh International Book Festival website (here), but there are set to be over 100 events for families, adults and children ranging from pre-recorded to live conversations with writers from all over the world!

When/Where: Online from 15th – 31st August.