Speaking Volumes was set up by Sharmilla Beezmohun and Sarah Sanders after leaving PEN International in May 2010.
As the Literary Events Team at PEN, we designed, curated and produced events in eight countries including Jamaica, Mexico, Austria and UAE, as well as the Free the Word festival at Shakespeare’s Globe, Southbank Centre and Free Word. Our approach to global programming necessitated working with many partners including Bloomberg, the EU Culture Programme, Prince Claus Foundation, Icorn, Emirates Literature Festival and many others.
As Speaking Volumes we have worked with the European Commission to produce a number of literary events in translation and collaborated with EUNIC London (the Heads of the European Cultural Institutions) to produce European Literature Night at the British Library.
We secured EU funding to tour ELN around the UK in 2012 and have been asked to run ELN 2013 and to work with the British Library on a large-scale literary tour in 2014. Other clients have included the South Asian Literature Festival, The British Council, The Dutch Arts Council, London Book Fair and Free Word Centre. In 2012, we ran Poetry Parnassus on Tour, the largest UK poetry tour of international artists ever produced, in partnership with Southbank Centre. SBC has asked us to programme a number of Parnassus events for the London Literature Festival in 2013. Our future plans in addition to AfroEuropes 2013 include a 100 Poet Festival in Seoul, South Korea in 2013/14 and a tour of Botswana with Afro-European artists.
Sharmilla Beezmohun has worked in publishing since 1994. She has worked for Virago, Heinemann’s African and Caribbean Writers Series, Thomas Telford Publishers and the George Padmore Institute amongst others. She has been Deputy Editor of Wasafiri since 2005 and in 2010 her first novel, Echoes of a Green Land, was published in translation in Spain as Ecos de la Tierra Verde.
Sarah Sanders has worked in Literature for 16 years. She is currently working two days a week in the Arts Council London Literature Department, specializing in Live Literature. She has worked at the National Theatre, the BBC and with a number of mainstream and diverse publishers as well as producing several live literature tours in the UK and US.
Nick Chapman helped to produce and run the Free the Word 2010 festival. He worked as a Project Assistant for the British Council’s Literature Team until Spring 2012 when he joined Speaking Volumes permanently. He has produced the High Impact: Dutch Writing Tour for SV and regularly acts as a ‘fixer’ for foreign visitors on behalf of the British Council.