Desiree Writes

Black Writers Conference, 13 October, Manchester

Black Writers Conference, 13 October, Manchester

    Cultureword’s 9th National Black Writers Conference will take place on Saturday, 13th October 2018. The Conference is for writers and publishers who identify as Black/Asian/BAME/POC. The conference will be covering: digital literature, afro-futurism, mental health, crime, developing audiences, self publishing and the Black Cultural Economy. Over Here Zine Fest, a festival of zines that showcase the work of creatives who identify as Black/Asian/BAME/POC, will also be taking place as part of the Conference. Desiree will be taking part in two events.     Writer Journeys Every writer has a story to tell, rarely do they tell their own. What got them into writing, what kept them going and how, eventually, they achieved success. Panellists: Keisha Thompson, Hirohisa Fukuda, chaired by Desiree Reynolds   And Mad How is our sense of self and our mental health affected by the stories a racialised society projects onto people of colour? Is a significant cause of mental illness among black communities an internalisation of such stories? Is mad a sick alternative to bad? What stories do writers of colour choose to tell that address (or transverse) mental health and why? How do we all maintain our mental well-being as writers and artists? Panellists: Kei Miller, Desiree Reynolds and Col Bashir   https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/black-writers-conference-2018-tickets-46224769530...

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Desiree talks to Afua Hirsch on Race and belonging, 18th October

Desiree talks to Afua Hirsch on Race and belonging, 18th October

  In collaboration with Our Mel, Festival of Debate, BAME Staff Network – The University of Sheffield and Sheffield Students’ Union as part of MelaninFest – Sheffield’s Black History Month Festival. Join Afua Hirsch for a discussion on her Sunday Times Bestseller, Brit(ish). Brit(ish) is about a search for identity. It is about the everyday racism that plagues British society. It is about our awkward, troubled relationship with our history. It is about why liberal attempts to be ‘colour-blind’ have caused more problems than they have solved. It is about why we continue to avoid talking about race. In this personal and provocative investigation, Afua Hirsch explores a very British crisis of identity. We are a nation in denial about our past and our present. We believe we are the nation of abolition, but forget we are the nation of slavery. We are convinced that fairness is one of our values, but that immigration is one of our problems. Brit(ish) is the story of how and why this came to be, and an urgent call for change. This event will be chaired by Desiree Reynolds – journalist, author and a trustee of The Racial Justice Network. This event will take place in Lecture Theatre 4 in The Diamond at The University of Sheffield. Tickets: Free...

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Talk About Change Writing as Resistance Anthology

Talk About Change Writing as Resistance Anthology

Very proud to announce Writing As Resistance Anthology available now from http://goo.gl/dquwrf

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Exposed magazine: Advice To New Students

Exposed magazine: Advice To New Students

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Writing As Resistance

Writing As Resistance

      Festival of the Mind “In a time when events seem ever and ever out of our control, writing is resistance”. –Désirée Reynolds This summer, Our Mel’s founder, Annalisa Toccara has been collaborating with 500 Reformations’ director Iona Hine & novelist and creative writer Désirée Reynolds to do some collective thinking about the power of language. Linked also with the Linguistic DNA project (linguisticdna.org), this work is funded by the University of Sheffield’s Festival of the Mind and will culminate in a spoken-word performance in the Festival’s Spiegeltent September 23rd.   The first 4 themed workshops cover Diversity, Feminisms, Immigrant and Race and then we’ll be looking at narrative craft, Performance, silencing the self critic and creating counter...

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Encounters with Masculinity

Encounters with Masculinity

Encounters with Masculinity   He talked a lot. His voice was booming and all that anyone could hear. It was loud and the other people in the coffee shop struggled to hear each other. They moved closer, so their bodies could physically block out the noise. His voice was insistent and demanding and it pushed through the bodies and annoyance, the coffee machine, the babies crying. On it went. It was starting to feel like hits over the head and punches to the stomach. He kept going, the women with him beaten into nodding and rolling their eyes at each other. One mouthed an apology to the other one. At a conference on masculinity the man next to me says, “I’ve been sexually harassed too”. The rest of the table turn and look at him and I look at him. “But why the word toxic?” says another. “Eh?” “Why toxic? Why not just masculinities? Why have the word toxic involved?” “Because that’s why we’re here. That’s the topic we’re talking about…” “I think this is where you’re going wrong…” “I’m not going wrong”. “If you didn’t use that word then more men would listen to you”. “It’s not just a word, it’s a theory of masculinity that identifies…” “I just don’t see the point of using it…” “Toxic masculinity causes so much harm that…” “But harmful behaviour is harmful, I don’t see why…” I’ve drifted by this point, wondering what I’m doing here, what the point of this all this is. The women at the table inwardly cave. The conversation hadn’t even started yet. “My problem with the word toxic is…” And his voice arrived, uninvited, purposeful, through the orders for coffee and cake. It was Brexit or women or refugees or pensions or immigrants or children these days or the government or…He had so much to say. I sat trying to reflect on the silences. And on the silences, that are even quieter than that. Gaps where silence should be. At the beginning of the conference the ‘code’ was delivered. But the code was just words declaring safe spaces without the methods of protecting those spaces and really it was about safe male space, which meant license to forget that the power to control the space is also power to silence and the power to harm. “Women commit as much domestic violence as men”. “No, they don’t”. “Yes, they do”. “No, they don’t”. “Yes, they do”. Later, I found out that this man had recently come out of an abusive relationship. “Yes, they do”. “But the figures show”. “You’re being abusive”, he said from the audience. He meant it. He was feeling abused by my presence. I don’t remember when it happened, that your own experience becomes the facts of everything. I looked at the women in the audience and felt that I’d let them down. As harm spewed out. As I was mentally and emotionally doing the ‘abusive math’ akin to the ‘you’re a racist math’ and a fellow panellist demanded that I tell him who he is, as he listed his oppressions.  I honestly don’t know when listing oppressions, real or imagined became evidence of oppressions. I feel very stupid and lonely. The sun is shining. A young poet on the panel speaks up, disagrees with the older men and gives the women hope and I hope that the weight of that doesn’t change him or tire him or burst him into tiny bits of glass. I had to take a good look at the men in my life, abusive lovers, absent fathers, drunk uncles, fragile...

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