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The African Writers' Evening is the first regular evening held for African writers at the UK's celebrated Poetry Cafe. It was started in 2003 by Nii Ayikwei Parkes in consultation with the Directors of the Poetry Society [1]after he completed a residency at the Poetry Café. The solid reputation of African Writers’ Evening is based on its ability to consistently identify and feature talented emerging writers. Diana Evans and Hisham Matar, for example, were both featured prior to the official releases of their début publications, two of 2007′s features Ken Kamoche and Sade Adeniran were shortlisted for the 2008 Commonwealth Prize for their first books, and Inua Ellams won an Edinburgh Festival Fringe First Award three years after his first featured appearance at African Writers' Evening in 2006. Recently, the event's founder Nii Ayikwei Parkes was himself shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize and the November 2009 featured reader, Nadifa Mohamed won the 2010 Betty Trask Award. African Writers' Evening is held bi-monthly from March to November with occasional special events, such as the AWE Heritage Series launched at the Southbank Centre on July 6 2009 and AWE/NYC, which was held at the Bowery Club in September 2009. While the event is still held mainly at the Poetry Café in Covent Garden, a recent partnership with the Southbank Centre has seen the end of year reading in November held at the Royal Festival Hall since 2008. Contents 1 Policy 2 First Event 3 History and Expansion 4 Organisation 5 List of previous featured readers 6 References 7 External links Policy African Writers' Evening features writers of all genres and defines 'African' based on lived experience rather than simplistic notions of heritage. Featured writers have included white writers like Robyn Scott, Isobel Dixon and Gillian Slovo, as well as Africans of Indian origin such as Sharmila Chauhan. First Event The first African Writers' Evening was held in July 2003 at the Poetry Café and featured Nii Ayikwei Parkes (who was writer-in-residence at the venue), Jessica Horn, a Ugandan poet and Abby Ajayi, a Nigerian-British short story and script writer. The event in its current format started in July 2004. Its tagline is where Africa speaks and the world listens. History and Expansion African Writers' Evening initially paid writers travel expenses and they read for free as a way of supporting the reading series. However, in September 2005, the series received funding from the Arts Council of England and began to pay the featured writers an appearance fee. This development allowed the series to begin flying writers in from abroad to share their work: Helon Habila's appearance at the Royal Festival Hall in 2009 was part of this trend. Since the New York event held in September 2009, African Writers' Evening appears to be on a path of expansion and collaboration. In April 2010, they held an event in Birmingham in collaboration with The Drum Theatre, The British Council and London Book Festival and in July 2010 a book sale event, named the African Book Market was held at the Poetry Café in partnership with major publishers, such as Random House as well as smaller outfits like Serpent's Tail. They have also announced a book discussion initiative due to start in September 2010. Organisation The event is run by a London-based collective called London Society, Literature, Arts and Music Central, abbreviated as London SLAM Central. List of previous featured readers Year Month Featured Author(s) Host Venue 2004 July Open Mike Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café September Leeto Thale (South Africa) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café November Open Mike Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café 2005 March Valerie Mason John (Sierra Leone) Delia Jarrett Macauley (Sierra Leone) Diana Omo Evans (Nigeria) Suzy Kester (Nigeria) Kadija Sesay Poetry Café May Hisham Matar (Libya) Gamal Hassan (Egypt) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café July Sefi Atta (Nigeria) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café September Jack Mapanje (Malawi) Jesica Horn (Uganda) Akin Oladimeji (Nigeria) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café November Atukwei Okai (Ghana) reading cancelled due to missed flight Poetry Café 2006 March Nick Makoha (Uganda) Inua Ellams (Nigeria) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café May Helen Oyeyemi (Nigeria) Clara Bakosi (Nigeria) Louis Antwi (Ghana) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café July Hisham Matar (Libya) Jessica Horn (Uganda) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café September Wangui Wa Goro (Kenya) Togara Muzanenhamo (Zimbabwe) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café November Brian Chikwava (Zimbabwe) Ghazi Gheblawi (Libya) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café 2007 March Kadija Sesay (Sierra Leone) Leeto Thale (South Africa) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café May Zoë Wicomb (South Africa) Sharmila Chauhan (Kenya/Zambia) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café June Special Event with Africa Beyond Casey Abaraonye (Nigeria) Ken Kamoche (Kenya) Sade Adeniran (Nigeria) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café July Biyi Bandele (Nigeria) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café September Musa Okwonga (Uganda) Jessica Horn (Uganda) Chris Simpson (Rwanda) Nick Makoha Poetry Café November Isobel Dixon (South Africa) Biram Mboob (Gambia) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café 2008 March Nii Ayikwei Parkes (Ghana) Nick Makoha Poetry Café May Robyn Scott (Botswana) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café June Fifth Anniversary Event Hisham Matar (Libya) Jennifer Makumbi (Uganda) Inua Ellams (Nigeria) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Royal Festival Hall July Ghazi Gheblawi (Libya) Saradha Soobrayen (Mauritius) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café September Monica Arac de Nyeko (Uganda) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café November No Readers reading cancelled due to venue refurbishment Poetry Café 2009 March Brian Chikwava (Zimbabwe) Goretti Kyomuhendo (Uganda) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café May Yaba Badoe (Ghana) Uchenna Izundu (Nigeria) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café July Laila Lalami (Morocco) Sulaiman Addonia (Eritrea/Ethiopia) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café July AWE Heritage Series Helon Habila (Nigeria) Cameron Duodu (Ghana) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Royal Festival Hall September AWE New York Mohammed Naseehu Ali (Ghana) Patrice Nganang (Cameroon) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Bowery Poetry Club September (themed reading: New Work) Hisham Matar (Libya) Leeto Thale(South Africa) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Poetry Café November Nadifa Mohamed (Somalia) Nii Ayikwei Parkes Royal Festival Hall 2010 March Lola Jaye (Nigeria) Peter Kalu (Nigeria) Kadija Sesay Poetry Café April Special Event: Personal or Political with British Council & London Book Fair Achmat Dangor (South Africa) Gillian Slovo (South Africa) Brian Chikwava (Zimbabwe) Leeto Thale The Drum (Birmingham) July African Book Market N/A Poetry Café September Book Discussion Bitter Leaf by Chioma Okereke Minna Salami Samuel Sabo Poetry Café 2011 March Nadifa Mohamed (Somalia) and selected emerging writers Nii Ayikwei Parkes Royal Festival Hall May TBA TBA Royal Festival Hall July TBA TBC Royal Festival Hall September TBA TBC Royal Festival Hall November TBC TBC Royal Festival Hall References ^ "African Writers Evening » About". http://www.x-bout.com/awe/?page_id=2. Retrieved 2010-08-28.  External links African Writers' Evening