Literature Live: Natasha Brown and Will Harris at Burgess Foundation

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Poet Will Harris. Photo by Matthew Thompson
Poet Will Harris. Photo by Matthew Thompson.

Literature Live: The 2022 Burgess Fellows – Natasha Brown and Will Harris at International Anthony Burgess Foundation (IABF), Manchester, 21 March–21 February 2022, from £5.00 - Book now

The latest in the regular Literature Live series from the Centre for New Writing presents the spring 2022 Burgess Fellows, novelist Natasha Brown and poet Will Harris, in partnership with the International Anthony Burgess Foundation. The pair will both read from their work and chat about being writers in residence at the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing – a role previously undertaken by the likes of Joanna Walsh, Zaffar Kunial, Emma Jane Unsworth and David Gaffney.

Granta has just signed Will’s second collection Brother Poem, which Rachael Allen, editor of the Granta Poetry imprint, calls: “A playful text.”

The Burgess Fellows scheme supports the emerging writers of today and is organised by the Centre for New Writing in partnership with the International Anthony Burgess Foundation; the author of A Clockwork Orange having published his first writing while a student at the University. Well worth checking out is the special exhibition Anthony Burgess’s Typewriters (open 21 to 25 March, 12-4pm, free entry).

Back to our fellows, and Natasha Brown wrote Assembly, her debut novel (out with Penguin Hamish Hamilton), after receiving a 2019 London Writers Award in the literary fiction category. It went on to be shortlisted for the Folio Prize and the Goldsmiths Prize, and was selected as a Book of the Year 2021 by the Guardian, New Statesman and Observer, among others. Bernadine Evaristo described it as “exquisite, daring, utterly captivating” and call Natasha: “A stunning new writer.” Ali Smith said: “I’m full of the hope, on reading it, that this is the kind of book that doesn’t just mark the moment things change, but also makes that change possible.”

Natasha studied maths at Cambridge University, then spent a decade working in financial services and draws on those experiences in the novel. The publisher’s synopsis says: “Come of age in the credit crunch. Be civil in a hostile environment. Step out into a world of Go Home vans. Go to Oxbridge, get an education, start a career. Do all the right things. Buy a flat. Buy art. Buy a sort of happiness. But above all, keep your head down. Keep quiet. And keep going. The narrator of Assembly is a Black British woman. She is preparing to attend a lavish garden party at her boyfriend’s family estate, set deep in the English countryside. At the same time, she is considering the carefully assembled pieces of herself…”

Will Harris is a poet and critic from London. He was shortlisted for the 2018 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem and won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection with RENDANG. Published in 2020 by Granta in the UK and Wesleyan University Press in the US, this debut collection of poetry was also shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and was a Poetry Book Society Choice. He is also the author of the chapbook All This Is Implied (HappenStance, 2017) and the book-length essay Mixed-Race Superman (Peninsula Press, 2018), praised by Inua Ellams as “startling, rich, illustrious and utterly, utterly brilliant”. He won a Poetry Fellowship from the Arts Foundation in 2019 and co-edited the Spring 2020 issue of The Poetry Review, and his poems have appeared in the Guardian, Granta, The London Review of Books and the anthology Ten: Poets of the New Generation, alongside the likes of Raymond Antrobus, Ian Humphrys, Jennifer Lee Tsai and Degna Stone.

Granta has just signed Will’s second collection Brother Poem, which Rachael Allen, editor of the Granta Poetry imprint, calls: “A playful text on the fictions we present of ourselves, and how we live up and into our various personas. Brother Poem harnesses Harris’ exceptional lyric experimentations in feedback loops, anxiety dreams and ludic conventions.”

Ticket prices include discounts at the bookstall run by Blackwell’s – events also take place regularly at the bookshop.

Rendang by Will Harris
Rendang by Will Harris

After the event is off sale online, tickets can be purchased directly from the International Anthony Burgess Foundation on the day of the event, subject to availability. The box office will open one hour before the event is due to start.

Literature Live: The 2022 Burgess Fellows – Natasha Brown and Will Harris at International Anthony Burgess Foundation (IABF), Manchester

21 March–21 February 2022
From £5.00

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