UNESCO Residencies

We are delighted to welcome five writers from other UNESCO cities of literature for a month-long virtual residency in February 2021.

Liz Breslin will join us from Dunedin. She writes poems, plays and stories. In 2020 she co-created Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature’s Possibilities Project and was the winner of the Kathleen Grattan Award for a Sequence of Poems. She’s also been part of a spoke’n’word tour of the Otago Central Rail Trail, which will be screened as rail:lines, a documentary film. Her second poem collection, In bed with the feminists, will be published by Dead Bird Books in 2021. www.lizbreslin.com

Lynn Buckle will join us from Dublin. Irish author, artist, and activist Lynn Buckle’s literary novel, The Groundsmen, was published in 2018 by époque press. Nominated for the Republic of Consciousness Prize, it was listed as Easons Best of Irish Literature and featured in a year-long book tour of Ireland and the UK. Recent work examines gender, power, and place through the lens of fictional nature and climate writing, from her own disability perspective. Her short stories and protest poetry can be found in Infinite Possibilities, Brigid, Luisne an Chleite, époque ezine, and HCE Review Vol I, Issue II.

Vahni Capildeo will join us from Edinburgh. Their background in medieval studies, lexicography, translation theory and culture for development underpins their non-fiction and poetry. Capildeo is interested in collaborative and immersive experiments; Skin Can Hold (Carcanet, 2019) and Odyssey Calling (Sad Press, 2020) offer participatory texts for readers to re-work. Capildeo’s work has been recognized with awards including the Forward Prize (Best Collection) and the Cholmondeley Award. Their ongoing research on silence, and their concern with the ecopoetics of place, are reflected in their eighth book, Like a Tree, Walking (Carcanet, 2021) and their seventh pamphlet, The Dusty Angel (Oystercatcher, 2021).

Valur Gunnarsson will join us from Reykjavik. Valur grew up on the Viking trail in Reykjavik, Oslo and Yorkshire. He is best known as a writer of creative historical fiction; his first novel was a Viking fantasy and his third an alternative history where the Germans invade Iceland in World War II. Meanwhile, his second novel was a piece of autofiction set in the aftermath of the economic collapse of 2008. His fourth book, expected in March 2021, is in the same vein, but this time set in the former Soviet Union. He also co-founded Grapevine magazine and has made three albums and a poetry book.

Marcin Wilk will join us from Krakow. He is a writer, journalist, and blogger. For many years he was the curator of the Przemysły Książki (Book Industries) at the International Literary Festival – Conrad Festival in Kraków (Poland), as well as the moderator of the Reading Discussion Clubs on classical literature in the same city. Author of the biographies of two famous Polish women: singer Anna Jantar (Tyle Słońca, 2015), and actress Irena Kwiatkowska (Żarty się skończyły, 2019), and a historical reportage Pokój z widokiem. Lato 1939 (A Room with a View. Summer 1939, 2019). He is an editor of Wyliczanka.eu – a portal about books and literature.

Visible Communities residencies at Dragon Hall

In January 2021 we welcome Anam Zafar, who is this year’s Visible Communities Emerging Translators mentee. She translates from Arabic and French into English, and this will be her first residency. She believes that problems arise when we speak about people rather than listening to what those people have to say for themselves. Through literary translation, she wants to be a conduit for voices that need to be heard, harnessing the power of storytelling to counter misunderstandings and sensationalism surrounding migration, Islam and the Middle East. During the residency, Anam will be working on her translation of the Arabic novel صورة في ماء ساكن (Image in Still Water) by Iraqi-Palestinian author Salwa Jarrah (2014).

In March 2021 we will be joined by Derek Barretto. Encouraged by a succession of brilliant language teachers, Derek thrives on a literary reading diet of English, Lusophone and occasionally Francophone fiction and non-fiction. A would-be literary translator looking to specialize in translation of Lusophone fiction and poetry, he has a keen interest in conveying the richness and variety of Portuguese literature to Anglophone readers. During his residency, Derek will be working on a translation of Madrugada Fria by Laura DaSilva, a contemporary Portuguese poet.

Also in March, we will welcome to Norwich Rabi Thapa, a writer, editor and translator from Nepal, now working from London. He is the founder Editor of La.Lit (www.lalitmag.com), and the author of Thamel, Dark Star of Kathmandu (Speaking Tiger Books). For Visible Communities, Rabi plans to work on translating from Nepali to English Boni (1991) by the pioneering feminist writer Parijat (1937-1993). Boni is a series of missives from the author to a young girl on how she might live her life, and it is hoped an English-language version will help address the paucity of translated works from Nepal, particularly by minority women writers.

Visible Communities virtual translators in residence

Shash Trevett will be the first of our four Visible Communities virtual translators in residence, from January to April 2021. Shash is a Tamil from Sri Lanka who came to the UK to escape the civil war. She is a poet and a translator of Tamil poetry into English. Her pamphlet From a Borrowed Land (which includes original translations) will be published in 2021 by Smith|Doorstop. She is currently editing (and translating), with Vidyan Ravinthiran and Seni Seneviratne, an anthology of Tamil, English and Sinhala poetry from Sri Lanka and its diaspora communities which will be published by Bloodaxe.

Gitanjali Patel is a translator and social researcher. She will be in virtual residence from May to August 2021. She graduated from Oxford University in Spanish and Portuguese and has been translating from these languages since 2010. She translates in a range of media, from film scripts and radio programmes to fiction, including stories by Luisa Geisler, Miriam Mambrini, Fernanda Torres and, most recently, Evando Nascimento. In 2016 she co-founded Shadow Heroes, an organisation which engages secondary school students in critical thought using the art of translation.

Sawad Hussain is an Arabic translator and litterateur who is passionate about bringing narratives from the African continent to wider audiences. Her translations have been recognised by English PEN, the Anglo-Omani Society, the Short Story Day Africa Prize, and the Palestine Book Awards, among others. She has lectured at IAIS at the University of Exeter, taught KS3 & KS4 Arabic in Johannesburg and Dubai, and run workshops introducing translation to students and adults under the auspices of Shadow Heroes, Africa Writes and Shubbak Festival. She holds an MA in Modern Arabic Literature from SOAS. Sawad will be in virtual residence from May to August 2021.

Vineet Lal is a literary translator from French to English, based in Scotland. In 2010 he was awarded one of the first-ever Mentorships in Literary Translation by the British Centre for Literary Translation, with Sarah Ardizzone, and in 2011 published his first full-length translation, Lacrimosa by Régis Jauffret. His first translated children’s book, Panthera Tigris by Sylvain Alzial and Hélène Rajcak, was published in October 2019 (a co-translation with Sarah Ardizzone) and his translation of The Woman Who Didn’t Grow Old by Grégoire Delacourt came out in February 2020. His translation of The Secret Life of Writers by Guillaume Musso is forthcoming in June 2021. Vineet will be in virtual residence from September to December 2021.

You can find more details about our Visible Communities translators in residence here.

Other residencies

In April 2021, we will welcome two Belgian writers to Norwich as part of our exchange with Passa Porta. Els Beerten is one of Belgium’s leading young adult novelists. She has been widely translated and has received several awards. Her most successful novel is We All Want Heaven. During her time in Norwich, Els will be working on a coming-of-age novel about two young Italian boys in the wake of the Second World War. The story is set in Belgium, Italy and England. Els plans to explore the traces of war along the Norfolk coast, and would like to spend time listening to locals’ stories.

Sylvie Marie is the author of four poetry collections: Zonder (Without), Toen je me ten huwelijk vroeg (When you asked me to marry you), Altijd een raam (Always a window) and Houdingen (Positions). She co-authored the football novel Speler X (Player X). She has won several poetry slams and likes experimenting on stage and interacting with the audience. Translations of Sylvie Marie’s poetry by Richard Berengarten will appear in Shearsman 125 / 126 in October 2020. During her residency, Sylvie will be working on #grampoems, new poetry and translations of her work into English.

Later in 2021, Claudine Toutoungi and Diana Evans will each spend a month at the Passa Porta International House of Literature in Brussels.

Claudine Toutoungi is a poet and playwright whose poems have appeared widely including in Poetry Chicago, PN Review, the Guardian, The Spectator and the Financial Times. Her debut poetry collection Smoothie was published by Carcanet in 2017 and her second poetry collection is forthcoming in 2020. Her plays have been produced in a range of theatres and on Radio 4.

Diana Evans is an award-winning novelist, journalist and critic. Her bestselling novel, Ordinary People, won the 2019 South Bank Sky Arts Award for Literature and was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Rathbones Folio Prize and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction. She was the inaugural winner of the Orange Award for New Writers for her debut novel 26a. A graduate of the UEA Creative Writing MA, she contributes to among others Time Magazine, the Guardian and the Financial Times, and is an associate lecturer in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Also in 2021, Penny Boxall will go on a return visit to Estonia as part of our residency exchange with Tartu UNESCO City of Literature. Penny will have the opportunity to take part in the Tartu International Literary Festival Prima Vista, an annual 6-day festival bringing together more than 40 writers from Estonia and abroad.