Up Hill and Down

It has been a packed few weeks for international cultural events in Leeds, Sheffield and the region.

Last week the celebrated Mexican poet Pedro Serrano read his poems in Spanish and English to a captivated audience at an event run by the Poetry Centre at the University of Leeds. I ran from here to the White Cloth Gallery to read a few poems for the launch of FURIES: A Poetry Anthology of Women Warriors. Helen Mort also read at the event, as did Khadijah Ibrahim, Director of Leeds Young Authors, who read from her book Another Crossing, published by the Leeds-based publisher of Caribbean and Black British Poetry, Fiction and Non-fiction Peepal Press. Other books on sale by Peepal Press at the event included Pepper Seed by Malika Booker, Douglas Caster Fellow at Leeds and works by Seni Seneviratne, who is reading at Verse Matters in Sheffield in 2016.

Ilkley Literature Festival brought a whole array of international writers to the region, as did Light Night Leeds. There were over 60 free arts events, including the launch of Leeds International Film Festival. The Film Festival will bring more exciting speakers and films to Leeds, including a reading by Linton Kwesi Johnson. The White Rose University Consortium (Leeds, Sheffield and York) hosted the Debating the Book programme, featuring talks, exhibitions, demonstrations, guided reading groups across Yorkshire, including a fascinating talk by Dr Fozia Bora on A Medieval Islamic Library, Lost and Found.

Meanwhile, Caryl Philips and Robert Antoni read from new works at Leeds Beckett University, at an event organised by Dr Emily Zobel Marshall. The following week, Professor John McLeod (School of English, University of Leeds) launched his new book Lifelines: Transcultural Adoption, which examines the histories and representations of adoptions that cross the lines of culture, race and nation.

Wonderfully, there are too many events to mention. Manchester-based Sarah Yaseen (Rafiki Jazz) sang 15th Century Punjabi poetry at Verse Matters in Sheffield; I read at the first spoken word event in Mirfield (West Yorkshire Print Workshop) organised by Callaloo Carnival Arts, alongside talented poets and musicians, including Ruth Ododu and Saju Iqbal Ahmed; Talib Kweli, Akala and guests celebrated hip hop history on 14 November at Leeds City MuseumContinent Chop Chop, created by the Virtual Migrants Collective is performed on 13 November in Leeds, in partnership with Remember Oluwale.

The list goes on. Local cultural practices in Yorkshire continue to be intimately tied to international events and contexts, and the historical links are fascinating. More from the archive to follow soon!

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