My short time so far as direktor of Writers' Centre Kingston has been smooth sailing, the challenges are different, but the remit is clear, and I've been lucky to have friends I've been able to ask to be guest speakers on quite short notice after my summer takeover. Our first few events were all about trying new formats, working student readings next to newly commissioned talks, and trying new venues, but this was all straightforward, the issue has been in a very different event culture in Kingston than in London, or in the other big cities I normally work. What I take to be relatively given and maybe even mundane is perhaps a little startling for others, so that's interesting. But having Iain Sinclair, Tom McCarthy and our beautiful pamphlet series, for example, tends to produce interesting events.
The third event was on the theme of Remembering and saw the best trio of talks I think I've ever been able to commission for a similarly faceted event. Between them Winsome Pinnock, John Stuart and Nell Leyshon produced genuinely remarkable reflections. It was so lovely to see Winsome, who is responsible for me being at Kingston, John, whom I look up to, being an avid history reader interested in the legacy of empire, and Nell, who has really got me writing fiction, and has become a close friend, after we met in Mexico and Peru, and had mad adventures over the last few years, speak together.
You can see all the videos and pictures here www.writerscentrekingston.com/remembering
Here is a picture Nell sent me after the event, a year old but just developed from film, of us sitting in an event abandoned train carriage in Peru. This event is what I'm trying to do with the centre, inspire students, and anyone interested, anyone in this part of the world, with programmes which feel friendly but have a core of something challenging, something defiant and intellectual.