Date and Time

3rd February 2021



Speakers and Artists
  • Linton Kwesi Johnson
  • Jay Bernard
  • Roger Robinson
  • Gilane Tawadros

Join us in welcoming three of Britain’s leading artists and poets, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Roger Robinson and Jay Bernard as they come together to read and reflect on the role of art and poetry in our turbulent times for our 4th Annual Public Conversation, which will take place online this year.

What is the role of art in a time of crisis and upheaval? Is it to speak up and speak out against injustice or to provide a space of quiet reflection? Should protest and movement take precedence over stillness and contemplation? And what part does imagination play in shaping alternative futures?

Since 2018, our Public Conversation event has been our yearly moment to pause and reflect, inviting an audience to engage with the work of artists and thinkers on a chosen theme that responds to recent political, cultural and social changes taking place. Previous years have pursued themes through multiple lenses, providing a chance for questions and discussion, and punctuated with interventions by poets, artists and musicians that open up a different space for thinking.

How to watch:

This event takes place online and is free to access. Please register to watch on the link above.
Instead of charging for tickets, we are inviting audiences to make a donation (suggested £5), which will help towards the cost of our public programme.

Speakers and Artists

Linton Kwesi Johnson

Linton Kwesi Johnson is a UK-based Jamaican-British dub poet. Born in Chapelton, a small town in the parish of Clarendon, Jamaica, he came to England in 1963. In the mid-seventies he gained a sociology degree from Goldsmiths College, London, and had poems published in the journal Race Today. Whilst still at school he joined the Black Panthers, helped to organise a poetry workshop within the movement and developed his work with Rasta Love, a group of poets and drummers. In 1977 he was awarded a C. Day Lewis Fellowship and was writer-in-residence for London Borough of Lambeth that year. He went on to work as the Library Resources and Education Officer at the Keskidee Centre. In 2002 he became the second living poet, and the only black poet, to be published in the Penguin Modern Classics series. He is the recipient of many prestigious awards, including numerous honorary and associate fellowships, and most recently was awarded the 2020 PEN Pinter Prize.

Jay Bernard

Jay Bernard is a writer, their practice is interdisciplinary and much of what they do is rooted in archives and social history. Their debut collection Surge won the Ted Hughes Award 2017 and they were named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year 2020. Surge was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award; T.S. Eliot Prize; Forward Prize for Best First Collection; Dylan Thomas Prize; RSL Ondaatje Prize; John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize. Surge is based on the archives at the George Padmore Institute relating to the 1981 New Cross Fire

Roger Robinson

Roger Robinson is a writer who has performed worldwide. He is the winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize 2019 and the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2020, shortlisted for the Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry 2020 and shortlisted for The OCM Bocas Poetry Prize, The Oxford Brookes Poetry Prize, highly commended by the Forward Poetry Prize. His latest collection ‘A Portable Paradise’ was a New Statesman book of the year. He was chosen by Decibel as one of 50 writers who have influenced the black-British writing canon. He is an alumnus of The Complete Works and he has toured extensively with the British Council.

Gilane Tawadros

Gilane Tawadros is the Chief Executive of DACS, a not-for-profit visual artists rights management organisation. She is a curator and writer and was the founding Director of the Institute of International Visual Arts (Iniva) which Stuart Hall chaired for over a decade. She is currently working on an anthology of Stuart Hall’s writings on the visual arts and culture.