Jada Pinkett Smith to read from her memoir at London Literature Festival

Twelve-day festival has been guest-curated by spoken word artist George the Poet

Hannah Roberts
Tuesday 04 July 2023 11:01 BST
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Jada Pinkett Smith and Sir Patrick Stewart are among the actors, musicians and authors who will deliver celebrity readings at this year’s London Literature Festival.

Stewart, known for his performances on stage as well as for roles in the Star Trek and X-Men movie franchises, will present his memoir Making It So, while US actor and Red Table Talks host Pinkett Smith will recount stories from her memoir Worthy.

Other celebrities in the mix include Scandal star Kerry Washington, who will be presenting her new memoir Thicker Than Water, and British actor Nick Frost, who will discuss his memoir A Slice Of Fried Gold with long-time collaborator Simon Pegg.

The 12-day festival will celebrate its 16th edition when it takes place at the Southbank Centre from October 18 to 29 this year.

Spoken word artist George The Poet – real name George Mpanga, 32 – will guest curate the opening night of the festival and will also be bringing to life his anthology Part Of A Story That Started Before Me.

“I’m honoured to be a guest-curator for London Literature Festival this year, kicking off the festival with a night that brings together some of my favourite music and spoken word artists from London and beyond,” he said.

“The environment of London has been my teacher and inspiration, so I’m looking forward to celebrating the culture, sounds and poetry of the city in what promises to be a night to remember.”

Other spoken word celebrations include an evening with Out-Spoken, the Southbank Centre’s resident poetry and live music collective, hosted by Joelle Taylor.

The Lambeth poet laureate Abstract Benna will give a performance that reflects on his year serving the borough whilst The National Poetry Library will host a gala day of spoken word performances and displays with BBC Radio 4 broadcaster Roger McGough.

Elsewhere in the programme, Korean author Yu Miri will be reading her novel The End of August, whilst photographer, critic and novelist Teju Cole will introduce his latest novel Tremor.

Dylan Thomas Prize-winning author Brian Washington will present his new novel Family Meal and author Oliver Jeffers will introduce his new picture book for adults, Begin Again: The Story Of How We Got Here and Where We Might Go.

Family events will be running across the October half-term, with former children’s laureate Dame Jacqueline Wilson presenting the sequel to her 2001 top-selling title Sleepovers – The Best Sleepover In The World.

Classic FM presenter and author Zeb Soanes will narrate his children’s story, Fred And The Fantastic Tub Tub and broadcaster and author Jeffrey Boakye will introduce his fun new adventure Kofi And The Rap Battle Summer.

The Black British Book Festival will be taking place alongside the London Literature Festival this year, kicking off with the launch of Little Mix star Leigh-Anne Pinnock’s new memoir Believe.

The programme of talks also includes Unmasking Brilliance: Black British Voices In Media, which will see politician Dawn Butler and journalists Clive Myrie and Gary Younge, explore the achievements of black leaders in the media industry.

A host of interactive events will take place as well, including a dance-led celebration by Strictly Come Dancing champion and CBeebies Boogie Beebies host Oti Mabuse, who is marking the launch of her new book Dance Along With Mabuse.

Tickets for London Literature Festival go on sale to Southbank Centre members on Wednesday July 5 and to the general public on Thursday July 6, while tickets for the Black British Book Festival are already on sale. Some of the festival’s programmes will be free and unticketed.

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