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Black History Month

It has always been our aim to give a voice to those from minority and underrepresented communities and at this time of year our work becomes even more relevant.  For too long the publishing industry has been slow to pick up on the strength and power of voices that come from writers from more diverse backgrounds, but we are pleased to see this is starting to be addressed.

Supporting our own writing community here in Barking and Dagenham we are still meeting writers who are struggling to get their voices heard by mainstream publishers and agents. They are still are not sure how to promote an author who comes from a significantly different background than from the mainstream white middle class that up until now, has been their main stay.

So, by no means is our job done. Our programme of writer support gives a no-strings, free opportunity for everyone to develop writing skills and by giving people the tools to develop what they want to say and how they want to say it, we build on the strengths a diverse writer can bring to the table.

In October 2020 we are looking back at the contribution people of colour have brought to the culture of our world. We are also facing up to the reality that everyone has a duty to become more accepting of people that are different to us. The deaths in the US of people such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor along with the focus on similar UK deaths prompted the Black Lives Matter movement, bringing into prominence the discrimination that is still prevalent in our society. More and more people are now saying ‘this is enough’.

We are all looking at an unfamiliar ‘new normal’ life after the pandemic. It has starkly brought to the fore the inequalities that have impacted on the victims of the Covid-19 virus, which has disproportionately affected those from the Black and minorities groups , along with those on a limited income in our society. But it has also offered us an opportunity to rebuild differently, we should all strive to ensure this happens.

Black History Month is a time to celebrate the richness of our culture, made better by its diverseness.  Pen to Print has sought out some of the best writing talent in Barking and Dagenham to bring you a rich slice of what diverse writers can bring to the table.

Connect with Pen to Print:
Call us: 020 8227 2267/ 020 8227 5063

Last year during ReadFest we played host to Miranda Kaufman who gave a wonderful talk based on her fascinating book about the little-known history of Black people in Britain The Black Tudors.

We are pleased to share with you a video version of the talk she presented in 2019.

Pen to Print’s Black History Month 2020 Programme:

Barking and Dagenham Black History Month
Barking and Dagenham Black History Month

Pen to Print Presents: A Tale of Two Islands Bound by Water with Iasha Denize Ledeatte

When: Tuesday 20 October, 6.30pm to 8pm
Where: Online go to to book your free place.

Artist and Poet Iesha Ledeatte will be showcasing her family history through art.

A crossing of the Atlantic over centuries. Untangling the narratives caught in the net of history, so that we can unpick our individual and shared stories and unpack them into our collective contemporary. Using fine art as storytelling and a bridge to heritage and legacy. Iesha as an artist explores identity through her artistry and extends a warm invitation to you to join her on the journey.

Following an absence of 35 years from the Arts, Iesha responded artistically to the myopic Wilberforce Abolition Bicentenary celebration in 2007 out of frustration. The death of her father blew fresh impetus into her work as she recognised the significant link between the two events. A 10 year journey of artistic voice recovery followed, slowly emerging from its cocoon, punctuated by her mother’s recent death which sealed the loss of a generation.

Iesha’s passion for social change and innovation in art is reflected in everything. She studied at Croydon College of Art and Design, City Lit, Putney School of Art, Kofi Arts and The Essential School of Painting. Iesha is a recipient and alumni of Global Women Inventors and Innovators Network British & European awards for creativity and social change, a British Innovation Society award recipient and a former Fellow of the RSA. Iesha’s work has been accepted for presentation at a number of academic conferences both in the UK and abroad and she contributed to the final chapter of the Handbook of Postcolonial Politics which was published by Routledge in 2018.


Pen to Print Presents: Sharna Jackson – Make Your Own Murder Mystery

When: 22 October, 6pm to 8pm
Where: Online go to to book your free place.

 Supporting Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) writers, Pen to Print invite you to join author Sharna Jackson, to Make Your Own Murder Mystery during Black History Month. Sharna is aiming to raise awareness of the writing contributions from Black and Ethnic Minorities, hosting a creative workshop to find under-represented talent in the writing world.

Everything you ever wanted to know about making a murder mystery – but were afraid to ask. Together, we’ll work through the elements of a mystery – focusing on People, Plot and Place – and create an outline for a new bestseller, together. Sharna and Pen to Print encourage participation of people from minority backgrounds and ethnic groups, who would like to delve more into the writing world. Further opportunities include poems and short stories published in Write On! Magazine.

About Sharna Jackson

Sharna is an author and Artistic Director who specialises in developing and delivering socially engaged digital initiatives for children and young people across culture, publishing, and entertainment. She is driven specifically to encourage and increase diverse and disengaged audiences’ participation in the arts locally, nationally, and globally. Sharna has written five books including Tate Kids British Art Activity Book, Tate Kids Modern Art Activity Book and High Rise Mystery – the first in a middle-grade series featuring the sibling detective duo everyone’s dying to meet. Sharna is Southbank Centre’s Imagine A Story author for 2020. She is the Artistic Director at Site Gallery, Sheffield’s leading international contemporary art space, specialising in moving image, new media and performance.

Pen to Print Presents: Black History Month Poetry Evening Celebrating Black Writing

When: 29 October, 6pm to 7.30pm
Where: Online go to to book your free place.

Poet Dauda Ladejobi along with guest poets host an interactive evening of poetry celebrating Black writers.

Join us for a thrilling evening filled with some of London’s rising stars in poetry. We have Tanaka, Gboyega Odubanjo, Denize Ledeatte, Ehinaaya Destiny and Desree sharing their works and works of those they admire. This will be an exciting night of poetry celebrating black art, culture and people.

The poets will each have 15 minutes, in which they will be sharing their own catalogue of poems and, as this is a period of remembering, learning and celebrating, they will be sharing some of their favourite works from other black poets.

We will then open the floor up for an open mic so anyone in attendance can share any of their own or another’s poets work.

Part 1: Guest poets and the audience will be reading their own contemporary poetry along with historical works.

Part 2: Open Mic where participants are encouraged to share their own poetry, celebrating Black Culture and those exploring what it means to be Black today. If you don’t write poetry and want to join in, perhaps bring along your favourite poem on this subject to share.