In March, we will welcome the Estonian writer, poet and musician Vahur Afanasjev as part of our residency exchange with Tartu UNESCO City of Literature. Vahur is the author of the award-winning Serafima and Bogdan, a bloody, funny and surreal family saga about the Russian Old Believer minority in Estonia. In Norwich, Vahur will be working on his novel On the Brink of Bloom, which is set in the near future and deals with social anxiety about progress.He hopes for long walks and cycling along the River Yare, and is keen to collaborate with local musicians.

In April, one of Belgium’s leading young adult novelists, Els Beerten, will be in Norwich as part of our exchange with Passa Porta. 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.

Also in April, the poet and playwright Claudine Toutoungi will spend a month at the Passa Porta International House of Literature in Brussels. Claudine’s 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, Two Tongues is forthcoming in 2020. Her plays have been produced in a range of theatres and on Radio 4.


And in May, Penny Boxall will go on a return visit to Estonia as part of our residency exchange with Tartu UNESCO City of Literature. Penny Boxall’s debut poetry collection, Ship of the Line, won the 2016 Edwin Morgan Poetry Award and a Writer’s Residency at Gladstone’s Library. Her second collection, Who Goes There?, was published in 2018 by Valley Press.  She has taught poetry on the MA at Oxford Brookes University, and in autumn 2019 was Visiting Research Fellow in the Creative Arts at Merton College, Oxford. 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.