Bidisha comes to Willesden Green in new literary initiative


Bidisha - Credit: Archant

An acclaimed author is taking up a library residency in Willesden as part of a two-year literary initiative to find hidden stories and undiscovered talent.

Bidisha, author of Asylum and Exile: The Hidden Voices of London, will be sharing her experiences and giving advice to would be writers at the Library at Willesden Green in the High Road next month.

Her free short story workshops for adult learners will run in the library on June 20 from 6pm-7.30pm and on June 24 from 2pm-4pm.

City of Stories is a new project, funded by Arts Council England, that offers adults the opportunity to write stories in a series of free workshops.

Taking place over two years, the project aims to make libraries the place to discover stories by celebrating and promoting short stories, engaging diverse communities with telling their own stories and supporting emerging short story writers.

Bidisha’s Asylum and Exile non-fiction book was the result of several months of personal outreach to refugees and asylum seekers.

In it she tells the stories of those who have fled war, violent persecution, or civil unrest.

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The 38-year-old said: “When I saw I was coming to Brent I thought perfect, it’s the ideal matching of a writer and a project, its multi-culturalism, it is multi-racial and is built from migrational movement.”

The broadcaster and journalist who is a patron of the SI Leeds Literary Prize for unpublished fiction by Black and Asian women in the UK has already spent a week at the library “plunging into the archives”.

She added: “I found it completely absorbing and fascinating. They have stuff from the Bronze age. I found a Roman oil lamp, a medieval spearhead, a bronze-age axe head, all from this area, it just amazes me.”

From it she wrote When The Bombs Stop Falling which she will read out at the first workshop.

“Anyone who wants to come along, learn how to write a short story, develop a character, you can be any aptitude as long as you’re keen.

“It’s time for writers and readers to put pen to paper and let loose a creativity without borders.”

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