Bernardine Evaristo

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Bernardine Evaristo, MBE FRSL FRSA, is an award-winning British writer and poet.

Biography[edit]

Evaristo was born in London to an English mother, who was a schoolteacher, and Nigerian father, who was a welder, Labour councillor and shop steward. Her paternal grandfather was a Yoruba Saro who returned from Brazil to West Africa.[1][2][3] The fourth of eight children, Evaristo was raised in Woolwich, south-east London.[4] She was educated at Eltham Hill Girls Grammar School, the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama and Goldsmiths College, University of London, where she earned a PhD in Creative Writing. She spent her teenage years acting at Greenwich Young People's Theatre. She lives in London with her husband.[5]

Writer/editor[edit]

Evaristo is the author of seven books of fiction and verse fiction, most recently Mr Loverman (Penguin UK, 2013/ Akashic US, 2014). She also writes radio and stage drama, poetry, essays and short stories. Two of her books, The Emperor's Babe and Hello Mum, have been adapted into BBC radio plays since 2012. Her eighth book, short stories in both English and Italian, will be published in Italy in 2014. She guest-edited the September 2014 issue of Mslexia magazine; and with students she edited the first Brunel University short story anthology, The Voices Inside Our Heads. Other editorships include the Poetry Society of Great Britain's winter issue of Poetry Review (2012); a special issue of Wasafiri magazine called Black Britain: Beyond Definition (Routledge, 2010), with poet Karen McCarthy-Woolf; Ten,[6] an anthology of Black and Asian poets, with poet Daljit Nagra (Bloodaxe Books, 2010). In 2007, she co-edited the New Writing Anthology NW15 (Granta/British Council). She was also editor of Frontseat intercultural magazine in the 1990s.

Teaching and touring[edit]

Evaristo has taught creative writing in a variety of settings for over twenty years. She is Reader in Creative Writing at Brunel University London[7](since September 2011) and currently teaches the University of East Anglia-Guardian "How to Tell a Story" course, in London. She has also held many writing fellowships and residencies, including Georgetown University, Washington DC; Barnard College, New York; University of the Western Cape, South Africa; the Virginia Arts Festival (Virginia, USA), and Writing Fellow at the University of East Anglia, UK. Since 1997 she has accepted over 100 international invitations as a writer. These involve writer-residencies and visiting fellowships, British Council tours, book tours, teaching creative writing workshops as well as keynotes, talks and panels at many conferences and literary festivals.[5] She also tours the UK widely.

Critic and advocate[edit]

Evaristo writes book reviews for the national UK newspapers including The Guardian, The Observer, The Independent and The Times. In 2012, she was Chair of judges for the Caine Prize for African Fiction; Chair of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize; judge of the Poetry Society's Poetry News Competition; and a judge of the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. She has been a judge of several other literary awards including the T. S. Eliot Prize, Orange Award for New Writers and Next Generation Poets. She is also a patron of the SI Leeds Literary Prize.[8] In 2012, she initiated the Brunel University African Poetry Prize.[5]

In 2006 Evaristo initiated an Arts Council report into why black and Asian poets were not getting published in the UK, which revealed that under 1% of all published poetry is by non-whites. When the report was published she then initiated The Complete Works poetry mentoring scheme, now in its fourth year. mentoring scheme. Twenty poets have thus far been mentored and are already publishing books, winning awards and receiving acclaim for their poetry.

She has also sat on many key councils and advisory committees for various organisations including the Arts Council of England, the London Arts Board, the British Council, the Society of Authors, the Poetry Society (Chair) and Wasafiri international literature magazine.

In the 1980s she was a founder and director of Theatre of Black Women, Britain's first such theatre company, formed at a time when there were almost no acting opportunities for black women in British theatre and film. In the 1990s she organised Britain's first black British writing conference, held at the Museum of London, and also Britain's first black British theatre conference, held at the Royal Festival Hall. In 1995 she co-founded and directed Spread the Word literature development agency, now in its 19th year.

Honours and awards[edit]

Evaristo's books have been a "Book of the Year" 13 times in British newspapers, and The Emperor’s Babe was selected by The Times as a "Book of the Decade".[5]

Academic honours[edit]

  • 2014 Inspirational Teacher Award, shortlist of 3 out of over 640 academics
  • 2014 Appointed The Public Orator, Brunel University, London

Bibliography[edit]

Books Only

References[edit]

  1. ^ Adeola Fadumiye. "Social : Bernadine Evaristo …on the crossroads of culture". Genievieve. Retrieved September 9, 2014. 
  2. ^ Tom Payne (March 23, 2003). "A Writer's Life: Bernadine Evaristo". United Kingdom: The Telegraph. Retrieved September 9, 2014. 
  3. ^ C.L. Innes (2007). The Cambridge Introduction to Postcolonial Literatures in English. Cambridge University Press. p. 68. ISBN 978-1139-4655-95. Retrieved September 9, 2014. 
  4. ^ Bernardine Evaristo biography, British Council, Literature.
  5. ^ a b c d Author's website.
  6. ^ "Ten New Poets by Bernardine Evaristo", Poetry Book Society.
  7. ^ Ellie Bothwell (September 8, 2013). "On My Radar: Bernadine Evaristo's cultural highlights". United Kingdom: The Guardian. Retrieved September 9, 2014. 
  8. ^ Patrons, SI Leeds Literary Prize.
  9. ^ Margaret Howe (2013). "An interview with Bernardine Evaristo". Bookslut. Retrieved September 9, 2014. 

External links[edit]