OWN IT! will connect stories and readers at home during their first (online) arts festival

We are launching a week-long online arts festival between the 8th and 14th of June featuring live readings, discussions, conversation sessions and workshops from authors and artists that we publish and represent.

Among the authors participating are Derek Owusu and Courttia Newland. Owusu whose critically acclaimed book That Reminds Me was the first novel to be published by #MerkyBooks and has been longlisted for the Desmond Elliott prize will be in conversation with literary hallmark Newland whose speculative fiction novel A River Called Time (Canongate) will be published in January 2021 to discuss the evolution of The Black British Novel.

MC Angel (Moments of Significance) will offer a workshop on how to creatively express the significant moments in your life while Ashley Hickson-Lovence will present a live reading and discussion of his debut novel The 392.

Sam Conniff and Alex Barker will deliver a workshop on How to be More Pirate and rewrite the rules in your life while author JJ Bola will reflect on his journey to writing and publishing. Poetry fans will be able to enjoy a session between Sophia Thakur (Somebody Give This Heart a Pen, Walker Books) and pioneer Salena Godden including a first live reading from Godden’s debut novel Mrs Death Misses Death (Canongate) which will be published in January 2021. Football enthusiasts will get to see Stormzy’s co-author Jude Yawson in conversation with Nile Ranger and listen to Kevin George reading from his book Soccology.

Other highlights include BBC Africa journalist Yemisi Adegoke who will launch her new podcast ‘The Art of Storytelling’, a live reading and discussion with playwright Sharmila Chauhan on cross cultural relationships and the Third Space and Kirsty Latoya who will deliver a workshop centred on Art, Poetry & Wellness.

Empowering the viewer to realise their ambitions, Rose Cartwright, author of the critically acclaimed book PURE which was adapted for television and is currently streaming on Netflix, will speak on how to become a writer when you have no financial safety net. In addition, self-starter Reggie Nelson, who went viral as the 23-year-old from Canning Town who knocked on doors in Kensington to make it in finance, will host a session on career development.

A finger on the pulse of our time, singer Jermain Jackman, winner of the BBC talent show The Voice (2014), will be in conversation with fellow political activist and social entrepreneur Mahamad Hashi who is the founder of Brixton Soup Kitchen.

As an antidote to the lockdown blues, comedian Quincy will present ‘Daddy Issues: Face Off’ featuring special guest comedian Slim.

With a broad range of events to choose from, OWN IT’s first online festival will be offering inspiring stories for all readers. Stressing the importance of storytelling in our lives, especially at times like these. The OWN IT! team commented

“We’re very lucky to have an eclectic and inspirational group of storytellers as a part of OWN IT! and we decided that in a time when hope is more important than ever, we wanted to collectively offer something which could bring people together, share practical tips and advice and help people get lost in creativity while hopefully feeling empowered

The one thing that we can always be sure of is that when things are at their worst is when the arts, artists and activism is most important and powerful so we’re very excited to be producing the first OWN IT! arts festival and grateful to all of our authors and artists for making this happen.”

Tune in to Salena Godden’s ‘Roaring 20s’ radio show on Soho Radio on the 6th of June for an OWN IT! special as a taster to the festival. We will also be releasing a playlist of songs from 1982 to celebrate the late photographer Stuart Goodman’s whose beautiful photography book One Saturday in 82 on Broadway Market we published earlier this year.

Feel free to just come along or sign up for a ticket and be sent a reminder of your session here