Martina Evans – author visit

Tuesday 9 June

The Royal Literary Fund’s amazing support for reading in this flagship project also allows for an author visit during the year, so I invited London-based poet and novelist Martina Evans.

We’d already looked at some of Martina’s work, in preparation for the trip, and these are featured on the texts page, but when she read her own work aloud, of course it gave it an entirely different rhythm and perspective.

Martina’s generous in the way she talks about writing and is particularly passionate about the importance of reading – or rather, she sees reading as part of the writing process. It’s always good to be reminded of that, in a society that sometimes bent on the latest, the new. Her passion for James Joyce is infectious.

Also fascinating, was how Martina described revising her early novel, Through the Glass Mountain as a prose poem. Martina’s own website has all you need to know about her publishing history and what she’s working on now. She runs her own RLF reading group in London and teaches creative writing at Birkbeck University.

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Kamila Shamsie and Moniza Alvi

2 June 2015

Kamila Shamsie, born in 1973,  is based in London but lived in Pakistan for many years. She has written six novels. This short story, ‘Our Dead, Your Dead’, was published in The Guardian as part of a 9/11 stories feature.

Her novels: In the City by the Sea; Cartography; Salt and Saffron; Broken Verses; Burnt Shadows; A God in Every Stone are published by Bloomsbury. Three of her novels have received awards from Pakistan’s Academy of Letters, she has been shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Baileys Prize, the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.

Shamsie is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and in 2013 was named a Granta Best of Young British Novelist.

Moniza Alvi was born in 1954 in Pakistan but when she was a few months old her family moved to England. She has published eight collections of poetry since winning a Poetry Business prize in 1991. Her collections, The Country at my Shoulder, A Bowl of Warm Air, Carrying My Wife, Souls, How the Stone Found its Voice and Europa have been shortlisted for the TS Eliot and Whitbread awards and been Poetry Book Society choices and recommendations. In Homesick for the Earth she translates the French poet, Jules Supervielle. She was selected for the Poetry Book Society’s New Generation Poets promotion and has won a Cholmondely Award.

We read her poem, ‘The Camp’, from her latest collection, At the Time of Partition (Bloodaxe 2013) which was described in the Independent as an “exquisitely mournful story of departure”. Alvi’s work is essential reading.