Black History Month @ WoW

The global Black Lives Matter protests that characterised our summer were truly inspirational. Black communities and anti-racists across the globe are demanding change. Writing on the Wall are proud to present our programme for Black History month featuring some of the most inspirational local, national and international black artists, creatives and activists, featuring Man Booker Prize winner, Jamaican writer Marlon James and Berkeley Professor Stephen Small; Afrofuturist author and filmmaker Ytasha Womack returns from Chicago to take up residency on the Writing Bloc, and We are also delighted to welcome George DomanToni HickmanKeith Jones and Leroy Moore, US Krip Hop activists and stars of the Netflix documentary Phoenix Rising.

Throwing themselves into the debate around the Decolonization of Curriculums, are Dr Leona Vaughnwhile the 1919 Walking Tours, Mandela 8, the L8 Archive and The Windrush Music projects reveal hidden histories. Sophie Williams will be discussing her new book, How To Be An Anti-Racist Ally, and we see the return of the multi-talented Black Girl Lit Club. Arena Films dig into their archive to present Linton Kwesi Johnson’s A Caribbean Journey, with contemporary discussions and poetic responses from Karen McCarthy-WoolfAshleigh NugentLevi Tafari,  Olive SeniorColin GrantDanielle Boodoo-Fortuné and Vladimir Lucien.

Bringing the struggle home, Kim Johnson MP, Liverpool’s first black MP, and Tracey Gore, the newly appointed chair of the city’s Race Task force, will consider how we level the playing field in Liverpool, while films from WoW’s Time to Breathe writing project portray just how pressing that it is.  Throw children’s Story Time into the mix and there’s something for everyone. We look forward to seeing you throughout October.

As the President of the ‘free world’ dog whistles to white supremacists and in the UK  black people are increasingly targeted by police and far right thugs line our shores to beat back those fleeing war and famine, the most pressing questions now for the Black Lives Matter movement and anti-racists everywhere is ‘What’s Next?’  Throughout  WoW’s Black History Month we will explore this question, and invite you to celebrate great writing and performance and engage in discussion and debate on these vital issues.


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WoW has played a critical role as one of the longest running writing and literary organisations in the country, in bringing the best of culture from across the country and internationally to audiences throughout the Liverpool City Region. 

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When Fear Came

Jo Austin

It seemed such a distant sound
We played in the streets to the soundtrack of children’s laughter
It hummed in the background
We looked the other way and clinked our social glasses
We missed it take a sip
As cars carried on in their familiar rhythm
We didn’t notice as the dance change step
Then with deafening thud it landed
So immediate
So threatening
Breath escaped
Doors slammed
Locks clanged
Sirens rang
Curtains shut
Power cut
Fear is hear
Don’t stand near
As we held our breath it consumed for a moment
Reports flood our ears with sounds of violence
The switch to insanity is almost too much to bear
Suffocated by life as we know it
Clinging closely to those we have left to touch
And softly we exhaled
We peeped in the garden
A toe on the footpath
The buzzing electricity
The power that connects us
Who is there?
We reach out
Can we return to who we were
And on that day when we push the locks back
Open into blinding light as if it were the first time our eyes could see
There on the street
You and me
We are free
Embarrassed I notice how ragged our clothes
I see the blood stains on my arms
My face has changed shape
I’m suddenly ashamed of who I’ve become, who we’ve become
I avoid your glance
You don’t want to come near
There is no going back
It’s changed us
Fear changed us
We dash back behind the comfort of our cold walls 
shut the fear out 

Marketing expert for charity The Women’s Organisation by day, Jo Austin is a singer, song writer, and poet, who first performed live poetry for International Women’s Day (2009).


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