The Coast is Queer literature festival returns

The LGBTQ+ literature festival returns from 5-7 of February with input and support from University of Brighton.

The festival is part of an ongoing collaboration between New Writing South and The Marlborough Theatre, along with Dr Vedrana Velickovic from the School of Humanities and Dr Sam Solomon, Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence, University of Sussex.

The festival has been supported by the University of Brighton’s Radical Futures programme which harnesses disruptive ideas, open debate and progressive thinking to redress inequalities and social injustices of the twenty-first century.

Dr Velickovic and Dr Solomon have organised two panels as part of the festival. ‘Queers in the Library’ will explore the potential of libraries as spaces for generating and nurturing queer communities, while the other introduces ‘Queer Writers from the Post-Yugoslav Region’. The latter panel launches a new collaboration between KROKODIL, a major contemporary literary festival for the post-Yugoslav region, with New Writing South and the University of Brighton.

Dr Velickovic said: “I am so pleased that we were able to put this panel together, introducing some of the best queer writing from the post-Yugoslav region to the UK audience. Over this unsettling time as the UK has fractured from the EU and the world comes to terms with the COVID pandemic, it is important to be able to foster a cross-cultural dialogue in a defiant rejection of all kinds of physical and symbolic borders. The virtual space has somehow opened up that possibility.”

Dr Velickovicexplained why she feels the festival to be important and particularly relevant to students: “I teach a module on Queer Writing and I know how that visibility is so important for our young LGBTQ+ students. When I was coming out in former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, it was so hard to find any LGBTQ+ books, let alone imagine a festival fully dedicated to queer literature. I am pleased that we have made some important strides, but we still have a long way to go.”

The festival brings together writers, performers, academics, activists and readers for a weekend of in-conversation events, workshops, films and discussions that celebrate queer lives and writing. There will be a chance to hear Douglas Stuart, winner of this year’s Booker Prize, Val McDermid, Alan Hollinghurst, as well as Brighton creative writing alumna Tanaka Mhishi.

Dr Velickovic said: “I am particularly excited about the conversation between Valerie Mason-John and Lady Phyll, our major Black queer icons.”

The Full programme can be found and all events are free (suggested donation welcome, if you are able to contribute). With thanks to the School of Humanities for kindly donating £250 to the festival and to University of Brighton’s Radical Futures for sponsoring the panel.

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