Arsenal Book Festival, Kyiv, Ukraine

Alternative Albion delegation from Writing West Midlands

I invariably travel alone, so what joy it was to be in the fine company of authors Jonathan Coe, Kit de Waal & Stuart Maconie, and poets Jonathan Davidson & Kurly McGeachie for a British Council/ Writing West Midlands trip to this fantastic book fair and festival.

Alternative Albion delegation from Writing West Midlands
Alternative Albion delegation from Writing West Midlands

The event was held in an actual arsenal, built by Catherine the Great. One hundred and fifty publishers were present, selling their books in vast vaulted halls. So many gorgeous books, with exquisite, quirky illustrations. And such enthusiasm from the public! It was like the first day of a Debenham’s sale ­čśÇ Endless books being bought and talked about.

I took part in a panel discussion about the UK literature scene – ‘Alternative Albion’ – ┬átalking about ‘alternative’ ways of showcasing literature and encouraging writers. I also did a family performance, alongside my fabulous translator Irina Zaytseva.

Tandem storytelling, in British and Ukrainian!
Tandem storytelling, in British and Ukrainian!

I still have some work to finish. One day, our hosts took us out into the city and set us individual challenges, to explore the city through one particular sense and write a piece about it. Mine was ‘scent,’ and I’ve been writing about a visit to the Monastery of Caves. Kyiv is a glorious city to explore…

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