Africa Writes – Exeter Book Club Presents: Elizabeth-Jane Burnett’s The Grassling & Of Sea

Africa Writes – Exeter Book Club Presents: Elizabeth-Jane Burnett’s The Grassling & Of Sea
Date: Tuesday 25 May

Time: 16:00 – 17:00 (BST)
Location: Crowdcast
Tickets: FREE (suggested donations: £2 / £5 / £10)

With Elizabeth-Jane Burnett and Phoebe Boswell.

Delving into the intimacy of natural and personal history with author Elizabeth-Jane Burnett and visual artist Phoebe Boswell.  

In a celebration of language, nature and place, Elizabeth-Jane Burnett’s memoir The Grassling (2019) and poetry collection Of Sea (2021) centre the emotional resonance of human and nonhuman interconnectedness.

The Grassling intimately delves into Elizabeth-Jane’s family and local history of a small Devon village. Through layers of memory, language and natural history the memoir tells a powerful story of how the land shapes and speaks to us; exploring what it means to belong when the soil beneath our feet constantly shifts, and when the people and places that nurtured us slip away.

Turning to the marine fauna, Of Sea dives into a poetic expedition of creatures living beneath, beside and above the water: in wetlands, salt marshes and the intertidal zone with  precise and dynamic lyric.

Join us for the last event of this Africa Writes – Exeter Book Club series as Phoebe Boswell journeys with Elizabeth-Jane Burnett through her experimental and confident command of lyrical prose and poetry, exploring the ways language and story compel us to connect deeper to the world around us, on land and beneath the sea.

This event is part of Africa Writes Exeter – Book Club which has previously hosted Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Maaza Mengiste and Abdulrazak Gurnah.



About the speakers:

Elizabeth-Jane Burnett is an author and academic. A writer of English and Kenyan heritage, she was born in Devon and her work is inspired by the natural world. Publications include the poetry collections Of Sea (Penned in the Margins, 2021) and Swims (Penned in the Margins, 2017), nature writing memoir The Grassling (Penguin, 2019) and literary critical monograph A Social Biography of Contemporary Innovative Poetry Communities: The Gift, the Wager and Poethics (Palgrave, 2017). She is Associate Professor in Creative Writing at Northumbria University and was recently awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2021-22) for her research on Creative Writing and Climate Change: Developing a New Wetlands Literature. She is founder of Grow Your Own Creativity and a nature diarist for Oh magazine and The Guardian.

Phoebe Boswell (b. 1982, Kenya), born in Nairobi to a Kikuyu mother and British Kenyan father, brought up in the Arabian Gulf, and now living and working in London, makes work anchored to a restless state of diasporic consciousness. Combining draftswomanship and digital technology, she creates immersive installations and bodies of work which layer drawing, animation, sound, video, and interactivity in an effort to find new languages robust yet open and multifaceted enough to house, centre, and amplify voices and histories which, like her own, are often systemically marginalised or sidelined as ‘other’.

Boswell studied at the Slade School of Art and Central St Martins. She is currently the Bridget Riley Drawing Fellow at the British School at Rome, a Ford Foundation Fellow, and is represented in the United States by Sapar Contemporary, New York. Her work has been widely exhibited: with galleries including Kristin Hjellegjerde, Carroll / Fletcher, and Tiwani Contemporary; art fairs Art15, 1:54, and Expo Chicago; and has screened at Sundance, the London Film Festival, LA Film Festival, Blackstar, Underwire, British Animation Awards, and CinemAfrica amongst others. She participated in the Gothenburg International Biennial of Contemporary Art 2015, the Biennial of Moving Images 2016 at the Centre d’Art Contemporain in Geneva, and received the Future Generation Art Prize’s Special Prize in 2017, consequently exhibiting as part of the Collateral Events programme at the 57th Venice Biennale.

About the event:

Presented in partnership with Saseni!, Authors.Cafe, Jalada Africa, Festival of Ideas, Prestige Bookshop, Libraries Unlimited and the University of Exeter.

This event is part of the Africa Writes – Exeter Book Club series which is being launched through Exeter’s UNESCO City of Literature Programme. 

Image of Elizabeth-Jane Burnett by Graham Shakleton.