Readings & Events


When Bad Things Happen,  Apr 23, 2017

A panel discussion on writers’ experiences of creating fiction addressing themes of violence and trauma. How and why do we tread the difficult ground when we might be accused of triggering readers, making light of suffering or sensationalism?

Confirmed speakers: Robyn Travis (Mama Can’t Raise No Man, 2016), Olumide Popoola (When We Speak of Nothing, 2017), Nasrin Parvaz

The Danger of Words in the Age of Danger – Symposium

Saturday 1st April 2017
10.00 am – 6.15 pm
Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG (nearest tube: Russell Square)

This one day symposium sets out to examine the contemporary danger of words as it affects exiled writers. It will interrogate diverse aspects of the ‘Danger of Words’ from denying exiled writers the freedom to write about the ills in their societies, to the manipulation of words, as it affects exiled writers, by dark and sinister forces in our established democracies.

More info and description of all panels here

3.45 to 5.20 – Panel 3
The Danger of Words in the Country of Destination, chair: Abbas Faiz
Leonardo Boix: Poetry and Journalism in parallel: A Latin American perspective
Annie Holmes and Dr Olumide Popoola: To find a Story and Not to Tell it.
Annie Webster: Stick to Your Story to Save Your Life: The Dangers of Storytelling in Exile


Who Are We, Tate Exchange on 19th March, 2pm

A conversation between Samantha Schnee, Chair of Words Without Borders and publisher Meike Ziervogel, with writers Olumide Popoola and Annie Holmes

Join us for a conversation between Samantha Schnee, Chair of Words Without Borders, and Peirene Press publisher, Meike Ziervogel, with writers, Olumide Popoola and Annie Holmes, to explore the unique commissioning approach of Peirene Press. Ziervogel works closely with writers, commissioning Popoola and Holmes to go to Calais in 2015 to produce the collection of short stories, breach (2016). Peirene’s collaborative/commissioning approach with writers (and readers) continues with the forthcoming Brexit novel, The Cut, in collaboration with writer Anthony Cartwright.

This event is part of Who Are We?. See for full contributor and programme details.

More info and bookings here


Peirene Winter Salon 2016 with Annie Holmes and Olumide Popoola

Sat 3 December 2016
19:30 – 23:30

Peirene Press Premises
17 Cheverton Road
N19 3BB

For more info and to BOOK click here
Doors open at 7.30pm. The evening starts with drinks, and the reading will commence at 8.15pm, followed by dinner and wine. Whiskey and coffee are served at 11pm.

Tickets for each salon: £15 for Peirene 2016 subscribers, £25 for non-Peirene subscribers.
Under-25s ticket for this salon, at £15.


Border Stories: Nick Thorpe and Olumide Popoola in conversation

Dates & times
16 Nov 2016 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Goldsmiths, University of London, 300a, Richard Hoggart Building

More info here

A discussion of journalism and fiction in migration stories.

“Look at all these borders, foaming at the mouth with bodies
broken and desperate” (Warsan Shire, 2011:25)

Discussions of immigration and immigration control, securitisation and illegality have become more pressing in recent years. According to the United Nations Population Fund, in 2015, 244 million people, or 3.3 per cent of the world’s population, lived outside their country of origin, with increasing numbers of people being forcibly displaced as a result of conflict, violence and human rights violations (UNPF, 2016).

Harrowing scenes of what has become known as the Mediterranean ‘refugee’ or ‘migrant crisis’ play out in the media almost daily, as more people fleeing war, violence and poverty in Africa and the Middle East try to find safety in Europe. Sometimes, these lives have faded from our screens and pages as another spectacle has caught journalistic and public attention, but these dangerous journeys and the trauma and deaths — ‘bodies broken and desperate’ — that they entail continue. How to tell and do justice to the stories of these men, women and children?

In this discussion Central Europe correspondent for the BBC, Nick Thorpe and writer and lecturer Olumide Popoola will talk about their respective work in Hungary (journalistic) and the Jungle Camp in Calais (fiction).


breach book launch

Wednesday 5 October, 7pm
Waterstones Piccadilly (203/206 Piccadilly, WC1)

RSVP essential:

“This is fine, suspenseful fiction springing from human lives in extremis… rich with ambiguity ”
Kapka Kassabova, The Guardian

“An insightful new book chronicling the plight of refugees… ought to be mandatory reading …”
Malcolm Forbes, Herald Scotland


Creative Methods in Migration Research

 Research Programme Migration and Belongings, Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance, The Open University, Convenor: Umut Erel, The Open University

 20 June 2016, 09:00-12:00

Venue: Londonewcastle Project Space,

28 Redchurch Street, London, E2 7DP,



9:00-9:30: Registration

9:30 – 10.30 Panel I: Visualising and Representing Migration

Sophie Henderson, Migration Museum Project: Creating a Migration Museum for Britain

Agata Lisiak, Humboldt University of Berlin: Visualizing the migrant experience through creative collaborations

Erene Kaptani, Open University: What about the locals? ‘A drama staged in Lesvos where locals, humanitarians and refugees are being directed by European leaders’

10:30- 10:45 Coffee

10:45-11:45 Panel II: Imagination and performance

Yasmin Gunaratnam, Goldsmiths College, University of London: Dancing with ghosts: empirical performance and social pain

Umut Erel, Open University: Participatory theatre with migrant families: exploring the strategies for social action

Olumide Popoola, writer and Goldsmith College, University of London: breach – imagination as a place of engagement and vision

11:45 – 12:00 Concluding Remarks

This event is free but spaces are limited, please email to reserve a place by 15 June 2016



Commonwealth Writers Conversations: What is narrative anyway?

Wednesday 25 May 2016, 6:00pm. Doughty Street Chambers, 54 Doughty Street, WC1N 2LS

Stories have the power to disrupt. They can offer us another dimension and an unexpected angle on official “narratives”. Forty-three out of fifty-three Commonwealth countries still criminalise homosexuality. How can we look at this particular story differently?

South African writer Mark Gervisser, Nigerian-German writer Olumide Popoola and poet Dean Atta explore the power of alternative narratives with BBC journalist Razia Iqbal.

Panel discussion followed by drinks reception. RSVP to or 020 7747 6572

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Cast Away: Stories of Survival from the world’s deadliest Voyage, and breach: Tales from the Calais Camp

Saturday 28 May 2016, 10:30, Greenwich Book Festival, More info here. Tickets here.

Charlotte McDonald-Gibson is a foreign correspondent, covering Europe for the Independent and Time magazine. In Castaway: Stories of Survival from the World’s Deadliest Voyage she tells the story of the European migration crisis in the Mediterranean, through the stories of those caught up in the tumult.

Nigerian-German Olumide Popoola and Zimbabwean Annie Holmes discuss their experiences of visiting the Calais refugee camps – and the fiction book, breach, they co-wrote on their return, based on their interviews. Breach will be the first title in the Pereine Now! series



Literature & Activism – Bringing refugee experiences ‘home’

Tuesday 26 April, 7.30pm at RichMix
with Olumide Popoola, Annie Holmes, Kayo Chingony and Tim Finch
More info here. Tickets here.

The Writer as Catalyst and Collaborator
Wednesday 27 April 2016, 6pm at The Stephen Lawrence Gallery, Greenwich University
with Olumide Popoola, Annie Holmes, Jean-Paul Flintoff, Sarah Haynes, Maya Chowdhry.
More info here. Tickets here.