British-Nigerian writer Bernardine Evaristo is the award-winning author of eight books and numerous other published and produced works that span the genres of novels, poetry, verse fiction, short fiction, essays, literary criticism, and radio and theatre drama. She is also an editor of anthologies and special issues of magazines. Her writing and projects are based around her interest in the African diaspora. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London. Her first verse novel Lara (1997) was republished by Bloodaxe in 2009. She co-edited the Spread the Word new poets anthology Ten (Bloodaxe Books/The Complete Works, 2010) with Daljit Nagra.
Her verse novel The Emperor’s Babe was adapted into a BBC Radio 4 play in 2013 and her novella Hello Mum was adapted as a BBC Radio 4 play in 2012. In 2015 she wrote and presented a two-part BBC Radio 4 documentary called Fiery Inspiration: Amiri Baraka and the Black Arts Movement. In 2019 she is the inaugural Woolwich Laureate, appointed by the Greenwich & Docklands International Festival. Her latest novel is Girl, Woman, Other (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin, 2019).
Her awards include the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize, EMMA Best Book Award, Publishing Triangle Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction for Mr Loverman (USA), Big Red Read Award, Orange Youth Panel Award, NESTA Fellowship Award and the Arts Council of England Writers’ Award 2000. She received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2009. She joined the governing Council of the Royal Society of Literature in 2016 and became Vice Chair in 2017. She guest-edited the Winter 2012 issue of Poetry Review, Britain’s leading poetry journal. Her issue, Offending Frequencies, featured more poets of colour than had ever previously been published in a single issue of the journal, as well as many female, radical, experimental and outspoken voices. She also co-edited a special issue of Wasafiri magazine in 2009: Black Britain: Beyond Definition, which celebrated and reevaluated the black writing scene in Britain; and she guest-edited the Autumn 2014 issue of Mslexia, Britain’s best-selling writing magazine. She is on the Editorial Board of the African Poetry Book Fund, USA, for all its publications and prizes.
Bernardine is a staunch and longstanding activist and advocate for the inclusion of artists and writers of colour, and she has initiated several successful schemes to ensure increased representation in the creative industries. She co-founded Theatre of Black Women with Patricia St Hilaire and Paulette Randall in the 80s, and Spread the Word writer development agency with Ruth Borthwick in the 90s (1995–continuing). Her recent literary advocacy projects include founding The Complete Works poets’ mentoring scheme (2007-2017) to redress the under 1% statistic of publications by poets of colour in the UK identified in the Arts’ Council’s Free Verse report she initiated. It has so far seen 30 poets of colour mentored by many of Britain’s leading poets. She also founded the annual £3000 Brunel International African Poetry Prize in (2012–continuing). All the shortlisted and winning poets of the Prize have had poetry pamphlets published with the Next Generation African Poets Series of box sets, with the African Poetry Book Fund, as well as first collections.
Bernardine Evaristo's website: https://bevaristo.com
Books by Bernardine Evaristo