Jean “Binta” Breeze

Today at Creative Writing Reading Series we welcomed the most charismatic speaker yet, a Jamaican Dub poet and storyteller, Jean “Binta” Breeze. She arrived at the university to discuss her new collection of prose poems, The Verandah Poems. It is a touching and intimate look at Jean’s life in rural Jamaica, a book of coming home and coming to terms with the choices we make throughout our lives. The poems revolve around the physical space of a verandah, where the speaker spends her time contemplating the departures and arrivals, her past, present and future. The Verandah Poems were published on the author’s 60th birthday and were written in impressively short period of time.


It’s impossible to discuss Jean “Binta” Breeze’s work without mentioning her reading of them. Without a doubt, she was the best reader we had welcomed to the series. Recited with passion, engagement and often, humour, the poems touched the most fragile parts of our souls. We would love to see Jean “Binta” Breeze coming back to Kent in the future. As for now, you can see her during her tour in the UK.



Francis Spufford “Golden Hill”

This week in Creative Writing Reading Series we welcomed Francis Spufford, the author of Red Plenty, The Child that Books Built and his newest novel, Golden Hill.

Golden Hill (chosen as Waterstones’ Book of a Month), is set in the Eighteenth Century New York and follows the steps of Mr Smith, a stranger from England who travels to America for a peculiar purpose which remains mysterious to both the readers and the characters he encounters in the story. Although the novel follows the structure known for the adventure books of the period, the author discussed his ambiguous relationship with the genre and his struggle to write the Eighteenth century while avoiding its cliches, and capturing the familiarity of it while sprinkling it with fresh elements a modern reader would enjoy.

The most interesting element of the novel is the main character himself. Although we do not know much about him, we are fascinated with him throughout the whole story. We want to follow him into the unknown.

Francis Spufford, the man who spontaneously delivers the most wonderful quotes, was a great speaker and an extremely entertaining reader.


Dan Richards’ ‘Climbing Days’

The Creative Writing Reading Series returned with a packed house in Week 1 turning out to enjoy readings from our own Kent staff members. Attendees enjoyed a range of works, from an excerpt of Prof. Scarlett Thomas’ most recent novel, The Seed Collectors to an essay on the complexity of telling refugees’ stories by Dragan Todorovic. We also got a preview of Amy Sackville’s current work-in-progress about a Spanish painter in 1773, as well as a preview of Dr. Alex Preston’s upcoming literary exploration of birds, As Kingfishers Catch Fire: Birds and Books.

“All writing is flailing,” said Dan Richards as we were getting to the end of the talk he gave on his recent book, ‘Climbing Days’. But as it happens with all great conversations, this one too has expanded beyond its starting topic. With passion and humour he led us through the story of his memoir – the story which explores his prestigious roots, women climbers and addresses ‘the wrong’ in his family. The memoir becomes something bigger than Dan’s attempt to capture the life his family led. It’s the way of giving his father a voice he felt he lacked. The voice whose absence Dan’s family and himself has been struggling with through generations.

dsc_0135The conversation between Dan and Dr. Alex Preston was broken by the author’s reading from the book. The fragments chosen were touching, personal and beautifully written. It’s worth mentioning that ‘Climbing Days’ beauty isn’t limited to its content. The cover itself is a work of art, as it has been designed by Stanley Donwood, known for his collaboration with Radiohead.