Deptford Literature Festival:
Writing the Past: Black Archives and Activism with Jay Bernard, Leila Howe, Tej Adeleye and Rex Obano.

Behind the headlines, London is full of hidden histories that complicate and contradict the dominant narrative.

How can we discover these stories, make them visible and do justice to them? What is the relationship between real life activism, archives and the art that follows? Join poets, playwrights and activists from London whose work has consistently sought to give voice to untold, lesser known and often joyous black histories that go beyond tragedy, towards transformation. Includes readings and discussions.

With: poet Jay Bernard, activist Leila Howe, writer and producer Tej Adeleye and writer Rex Obano. 

This event will be BSL interpreted.

Free places offer for this event

We are offering a limited number of free tickets for the three events at Deptford Literature Festival that require a ticket to be paid for. These spaces are offered to Lewisham residents who would like to attend this event but are on a low income or suffering from financial hardship,  for example:

– You are in receipt of Universal Credit, Job Seeker’s Allowance, disability benefit, income support or working tax credit
– You earn less than the London Living Wage of £10.55 per hour or a £23k annual salary

We will also consider other situations not covered here, please explain in your email application.

Please email with the subject ‘Deptford Literature Festival Free Place request: Writing the Past: Black Archives and Activism’ and include:

  • Your name;

  • Your address including postcode;

  • The Deptford Literature Festival event you would like to attend for free;

  • A brief paragraph of 2- 4 lines explaining your financial circumstances in relation to the criteria and why you would benefit from attending the event you’re applying for a place.

Please apply by Friday 7 February for your free place. We will let all applicants know the outcome of their application by Friday 14 February.

We expect to be oversubscribed for the free places we have available, so we might not be able to offer a free space to everyone who applies. The majority of Deptford Literature Festival events are free to attend so we hope if you are not successful in securing a free place at one of our three paid-for events, one of the other programme events will be of interest to you.

About Deptford Literature Festival

Deptford Literature Festival celebrates the creativity and diversity of South East London through stories, words and performance. Most events are free. It is funded by Arts Council England and run as a collaboration between independent producer Tom MacAndrew and Spread the Word. You can read more about the festival and see the full programme at


Jay Bernard

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Jay Bernard is from London and works as a writer and film programmer at BFI Flare (London's LGBT film festival). They are the author of three pamphlets and have been featured in numerous anthologies and magazines, including TEN: The New Wave, Voice Recognition, Out of Bounds: Black British Writers and Place and Flicker and Spark: A Contemporary Queer Anthology. Jay was Poet-in-Residence at the George Padmore Institute in 2016, out of which came the poems for their poetry collection Surge (2019), based on the New Cross Fire of 1981 where 14 young black people lost their lives. The book has been shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the T S Eliot Prize among others.

Tej Adeleye

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Tej Adeleye is a writer, audio producer and arts programmer who looks at connections between past and present black political struggles using multidisciplinary art forms and archives. She is a producer for BBC Radio 3’s flagship programme J to Z and her cultural radio documentaries include Playing In The Dark for Radio 4's Short Cuts, exploring intergenerational black feminist activism in Britain. Her cultural criticism in Crack Magazine among others explores the social and political contexts of contemporary black music.

Leila Howe

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Leila Howe was born in Britain of English and Zanzibari parentage. She attended secondary school in Zanzibar, returning in 1964 because of the revolution there. In the 1970s she was a member of the Black Unity and Freedom Party. She worked at the Institute of Race Relations and was part of the team which successfully radicalised the membership, to change the direction of the Institute and its publications, Race Today and Race & Class. A founding member of the Race Today Collective, she was deputy editor of the journal, becoming its editor in 1986. Since the death of Darcus Howe in 2017 she has been a member of the Darcus Howe Legacy Collective, which recently published Here to Stay Here to Fight - a Race Today Anthology.

Rex Obano

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Rex Obano has written for the stage, television, radio and film for over two decades. His theatre includes Slaves (Theatre 503) and The Door Never Closes (Almeida Theatre). He was awarded the Roland Rees Bursary. His radio work includes Someone’s Making A Killing In Nigeria, Burned To Nothing, Lover’s Rock, The Moors of England and As Innocent As You Can Get. He is under commission from Silverprint Pictures, BBC Radio 4 and has a feature film in development with the BFI. Rex Obano lives in south London.

Produced by Speaking Volumes Live Literature Productions

Deptford Lounge

9 Giffin Street