10 things I learned at BARE Lit Festival

media diversified

This is a guest post by India Hosten-Hughes, who attended the launch of the BARE Lit Festival (26-28th February). BARE Lit is ‘a new literature festival by and for writers of colour, giving them the platform and visibility they deserve’. The festival was run by the team behind Media Diversified and was a weekend packed with panels, discussion points, performances and powerful words from guest speakers.

1) No Idea is a Bad Idea

Publishers are always looking for new innovative ideas and material. Yet it seems that writers of colour are still skeptical about what they write about and whether or not there is a market for it. BARE Lit taught us that we should voice our ideas. No idea is a bad idea.

2) The Rise of Afrofuturism

If you haven’t heard of the term Afrofuturism before, don’t worry many haven’t. But you will do, as it is a proliferating trending sub-genre in the field of science fiction and fantasy. On a discussion panel on (Re)Writing Pasts & Futures, the panelists expressed the growing trend and the need for more Afrofuturistic literature and it’s contribution finding your own identity.

3) The Danger of the Single Story

Although Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s The Danger of the Single Story wasn’t discussed, the issue was. Many diverse writers feel compelled to write about their struggle for identity, as a person of colour living in a predominantly white society because that is what mainstream publishers think will sell. But with new sub-genres such as Afrofuturism, the fight to show that there is more to diverse writers is always growing.

4) Black People Do Read

Contrary to popular belief that black people do not read or buy books is a myth. One of the discussions at BARE Lit was not how to make black people read and buy more books but why? It was widely argued that black people aren’t interested in books available today because they are tired of the same characters and want to see themselves. Again, the danger of the single story.

5) If You Have a Thought, You Probably Aren’t Alone

If you feel there is a lack of a certain storyline or character type being published, you probably aren’t the only one. All the more reason to vocalize the issues.

6) Write for Yourself

Every panelist argued the same thing. Write yourself! Take it as yourself or your self. Authors at the festival expressed the importance of finding themselves once they began to write for themselves.

‘And why don’t you write? Write! Writing is for you, you are for you; your body is yours, take it.’ The Laugh of the Medusa – Hélène Cixous

7) Discover New Literature

At a literary festival you can always count on stumbling upon new literature that you probably never have heard but suddenly feel compelled to buy. Do It!

8) Never Give Up

There are many testimonies of writers receiving constant rejection letters from publishers and agents or no replies at all. But with more authors self-publishing today, there is no excuse to give up. Keep going!

9) Find Like Minded People

BARE Lit was not just an event for writers and readers. It is a campaign for awareness for everyone. One thing that stood out was unity and teamwork. Find a team of people that believe in your cause.       Networking at events is a great way to find out what is happening, who to speak to and how people can find you.

10) Don’t Be Ashamed

It’s always a little awkward when discussing race and diversity, but we shouldn’t be ashamed to speak out against negative stereotypes and lack of opportunities. If you have an idea about how you can change the industry and help it evolve, don’t be ashamed to be speak up and speak out.


India Hosten-HughesIndia Hosten-Hughes is a MA Publishing student at Kingston University. She’s also a blogger, and graphic novel, manga and anime enthusiast. 

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