One thing my various projects have in common is an emphasis on participation and sharing at their heart. Some of the participatory events I have curated include:
- Love Bites at Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love – an informal symposium on seven Greek themes of love, featuring activist Laurie Penny, playwright Shelley Silas, theatre maker Nick Makoha, anthropologist Jean Smith, Dan Thompson (founder of Riot Clean Up), poets Bridget Minamore and Richard Scott – and a very vocal audience!
- a quirky walks programme at Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall featuring a walking book club, a foraging expedition and a treasure hunt
- a week-long renga workshop led by poet-researcher James Wilkes – imagine an epic game of Literary Consequences, but as a poem!
I was a literary editor for ten years, spending time at Bloomsbury and The Pigeonhole. Editing is extremely rewarding, and creative in a way that is both a counterweight and a complement to my own artistic work. Writers I have worked with include Jon McGregor, Adriana Lisboa, James Runcie, Vanessa Gebbie, Mai Al-Nakib, Craig Taylor, Lillian Pizzichini and Zeruya Shalev. Right now I’m particularly interested in works in translation.
I worked for a year at the Southbank Centre in London, where I was given an unusual amount of freedom to make interesting (and FREE) activities for the public. The three I’m most proud of are:
- The Spectacular Translation Machine, a one-of-a-kind translation lab where anyone who wanted to could drop in and help translate the diary of an unknown WWI foot soldier from French into English – hundreds of people came, and we translated the whole book in just four days
- a series of Shared Readings in the Saison Poetry Library, where groups of strangers gathered together to read aloud a polyphonic poem – our first was the extraordinary Night Thoughts by David Gascoyne
- Exquisite Corpse, a whodunnit written over ten weeks by people on Twitter, curated by established novelists from several different genres
More and more people are realising the benefits of group singing, and there are now (in cities anyway) community choirs to suit all tastes and timetables. Through singing in a wide range of styles, I’ve picked up lots of fun exercises and techniques to share with enthusiasts of all experience levels. I have had the privilege of leading vocal workshops across the country; my favourites have been a grunge choir for twenty-something women in trendy Hackney, a group of mums in Balham and the entire primary school population of St Martin’s Ampleforth.