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Melissa Febos and Tanya Shadrick in conversation

It was a real joy to welcome Melissa Febos and Tanya Shadrick yesterday evening for a brilliant discussion of the art of memoir, the challenges of corporeal writing, and navel-gazing as an act of resistance. Thank you so, so much to Melissa and Tanya as well as all of you that joined us live!

Watch below if you missed it, and be sure to check out Melissa’s new book BODY WORK and Tanya’s book THE CURE FOR SLEEP, both available to order for collection or nationwide delivery.

Body Work / The Cure for Sleep: Melissa Febos and Tanya Shadrick in conversation

Virtual Event Virtual Event

March 16 @ 7:00 pm 8:00 pm GMT

Join us for our first virtual event of 2022 when we welcome Melissa Febos, author of BODY WORK, and Tanya Shadrick, author of THE CURE FOR SLEEP, for an unmissable discussion of the radical power of personal narrative. The event will be hosted via Instagram Live, with no registration required. It is free to attend, and if possible we encourage you to show your support for this event with a donation. All contributions made using the form below will be donated to the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal after the event.

Instructions for viewing a live broadcast on Instagram

Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative

Melissa Febos

In this bold and exhilarating mix of memoir and writing guide, Melissa Febos tackles the emotional, psychological, and physical work of writing intimately while offering an utterly fresh examination of the storyteller’s life and the challenges it presents.

How do we write about the relationships that have formed us? How do we describe our bodies, their desires and traumas? What does it mean to have your writing, or living, dismissed as “navel-gazing” ― or else hailed as “so brave, so raw”? And to whom, in the end, do our most intimate stories belong?

Drawing on her journey from aspiring writer to acclaimed author and writing professor ― via addiction and recovery, sex work and academia ― Melissa Febos has created a captivating guide to the writing life, and a brilliantly unusual exploration of subjectivity, privacy, and the power of divulgence. Candid and inspiring, Body Work will empower readers and writers alike, offering ideas ― and occasional notes of caution ― to anyone who has ever hoped to see their true self reflecting back from the open page.

The Cure for Sleep

Tanya Shadrick

Just days into motherhood, a woman begins dying. Fast and without warning.

On return from near-death, Tanya Shadrick vows to stop sleepwalking through life. To take more risks, like the characters in the fairy tales she loved as a small girl, before loss and fear had her retreat into routine and daydreams.

Around the care of young children, she starts to play with the shape and scale of her days: to stray from the path, get lost in the woods, make bargains with strangers.

As she moves beyond her respectable roles as worker, wife and mother in a small town, Tanya learns what it takes – and costs – to break the spell of longing for love, approval, safety, rescue.


March 16
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm GMT
Event Tags:


Pages of Hackney
020 8525 1452
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Musa Okwonga and Tayo Popoola in Conversation

“Sometimes you forget you are in this migrant body, then the news reminds you.”

Musa Okwonga reads from IN THE END, IT WAS ALL ABOUT LOVE earlier this month at the shop. If you weren’t one of the lucky few that managed to score a ticket for Musa’s event with Tayo Popoola, we’ve just shared a recording of their incredible discussion to YouTube.

Watch below relive a very special conversation exploring radical vulnerability, love, race, loneliness, and family that we felt enormously fortunate to host.

Enormous thanks once again to Musa, Tayo, Rough Trade Books, and everyone that joined us on the night!

In The End, It Was All About Love: Musa Okwonga in Conversation with Tayo Popoola

1 November 2021 @ 7:00 pm 8:30 pm GMT


We’re feeling incredibly fortunate to be welcoming Musa Okwonga for what promises to be an unmissable discussion with Tayo Popoola. Tickets for this in-person event are very limited, so please ensure you book very soon if you’d like to join us!


The narrator arrives in Berlin, a place famed for its hedonism, to find peace and maybe love; only to discover that the problems which have long haunted him have arrived there too, and are more present than ever. As he approaches his fortieth birthday, nearing the age where his father was killed in a brutal revolution, he drifts through this endlessly addictive and sometimes mystical city, through its slow days and bottomless nights, wondering whether he will ever escape the damage left by his father’s death. With the world as a whole more uncertain, as both the far-right and global temperatures rise at frightening speed, he finds himself fighting a fierce inner battle against his turbulent past, for a future free of his fear of failure, of persecution, and of intimacy.

IN THE END, IT WAS ALL ABOUT LOVE is a journey of loss and self-acceptance that takes its nameless narrator all the way through bustling Berlin to his roots, a quiet village on the Uganda-Sudan border. It is a bracingly honest story of love, sexuality and spirituality, of racism, dating, and alienation; of fleeing the greatest possible pain, and of the hopeful road home.

Musa Okwonga is a writer, broadcaster and musician. The co-host of the Stadio football podcast, he has published one collection of poetry and three books about football, the first of which, A Cultured Left Foot, was nominated for the 2008 William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award. His work has appeared in various outlets, including Africa Is A Country, Byline TimesForeign PolicyGuardianThe New York TimesThe Economist and The Ringer.  One of Them: An Eton College Memoir was published this spring by Unbound, and In The End, It Was All About Love was longlisted for The Gordon Burn Prize. He lives in Berlin.

Tayo Popoola is an award winning audio producer, presenter, DJ  and podcaster. He makes documentaries for  BBC from music to politics, and most recently, the narrative football podcast GIANT for Spotify. He also co-hosts the Arsenal podcast The Tuesday Club.

Please note that this event will be recorded, and will be available to watch via YouTube at a later date.

Pages of Hackney

70 Lower Clapton Road
London, E5 0RN United Kingdom
+ Google Map
020 8525 1452
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A Wild and Precious Life

Yesterday evening we hosted a remarkable discussion of recovery, writing, and community with the editors and contributors of A WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE: A RECOVERY ANTHOLOGY. Huge, huge thanks to Zoe, Gary, Alex, and Rob for their readings and insights, and a big thank you to Lily for serving as chairperson.

Watch below if you missed it, and head to our webshop to grab a copy of the book!

A Wild and Precious Life: On Recovery and Community

Virtual Event Virtual Event

24 August 2021 @ 7:30 pm 8:30 pm BST


Join us as we welcome editors and contributors of the new anthology, A WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE, for a discussion of recovery and community. The event will be streaming via Instagram Live.

We’ll all experience recovery at some point in our lives, whether from addiction, physical illness, mental health issues or loss. Many of us heal, and we may discover ways to live with our changed selves, to reclaim a life. We may find a new voice, or unearth a voice that has been submerged.

Vitally, recovery can mean community. This anthology represents a community of writers new, unheard voices alongside emerging and established authors. Theirs are stories from the dark back alleys, the deep crevices of the mind, and from the wild, ecstatic heights of life before, during and after recovery. These are voices that urgently need to be heard, in all their variety.

Zoe Gilbert is the author of two novels: Folk (Bloomsbury 2018), which was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and named an Observer Book of the Year, and Mischief Acts (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2022). She is the winner of the Costa Short Story Award 2014, and her work has appeared in anthologies and journals in the UK and internationally. With Lily Dunn she is the co-founder of London Lit Lab, where she teaches and mentors writers.

Rob True was born in 1971. Unable to read or write very well, he left school with no qualifications. His wife taught him how to use paragraphs and punctuation aged forty, and he began writing stories. He’s had stories published in various magazines, including Open Pen and Litro Magazine. His first book, Gospel of Aberration was published by Burning House Press. His second book, In the Shadow of the Phosphorous Dawn, was published by Influx Press

Michele Kirsch is a contributor to A WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE and is also the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Clean, which won the Royal Society of Literature 2020 Christopher Bland Prize. She has also worked as a journalist for most of the broadsheets and is currently working on a novel about the backdrop to the Son of Sam murders in 70s New York, where she grew up.

Gary Bryan is a queer ex-heroin addict turned horticulturalist, musician and Buddhist. He is working towards a career in horticulture or music therapy with a focus on working with LGBTQ+ young people. 

Alex Ali is a WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE contributor, integrative therapist, father, husband, Devon dweller, and recovery advocate.

Lily Dunn is author of Shadowing the Sun (Portobello Books) and Sins of My Father: A Daughter, A Cult, A Wild Unravelling (W&N, March 2022). She has personal essays in Granta, Litro, Hinterland, MIRonline and The Real Story, and is a regular writer for Aeon magazine. She is co-editor of A WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE, a collection of stories and poetry from writers in recovery, with Zoe Gilbert (Unbound, May 2021). She teaches creative writing at Bath Spa University and co-runs London Lit Lab.

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Jamie Windust & Alex Iantaffi in Conversation

Huge thanks to Jamie Windust and Alex Iantaffi who joined us yesterday evening for a warm, generous, and insightful discussion of gender-nonconformity, writing, and mental health. It was truly a pleasure to host this transatlantic pairing!

You’ll find Jamie’s book, IN THEIR SHOES, and Alex’s book GENDER TRAUMA in our webshop, where both are available to order for collection or nationwide delivery.

Watch the event back below if you missed it ✨

Jamie Windust & Alex Iantaffi in Conversation

Virtual Event Virtual Event

21 April 2021 @ 7:30 pm 9:00 pm BST


Join us when we welcome Jamie Windust and Alex Iantaffi for a discussion of their respective groundbreaking new books, IN THEIR SHOES: NAVIGATING NON-BINARY LIFE, and GENDER TRAUMA. The event will be streaming via Instagram Live.

“There is no one way to be non-binary, and that’s truthfully one of the best things about it. It’s an identity that is yours to shape.”

Combining light-hearted anecdotes with their own hard-won wisdom, Jamie Windust explores everything from fashion, dating, relationships and family, through to mental health, work and future key debates. From trying on clothes in secret to iconic looks, first dates to polyamorous liaisons, passports to pronouns, Jamie shows you how to navigate the world and your evolving identity in every type of situation.

Frank, funny, and brilliantly feisty, this must-read book is a call to arms for non-binary self-acceptance, self-appreciation and self-celebration.

Jamie Windust is an award-winning non-binary writer, public speaker and model from London. They are Contributing Editor at Gay Times, and have written for The Independent, British GQ, Cosmopolitan and INTO More, and were named as one of London’s most influential people, in the story telling category, by the Evening Standard. IN THEIR SHOES is their first book, and was published in 2020 by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Exploring how the essentialism of the gender binary impacts on clients of all genders, this ground-breaking book examines how historical, social and culturally gendered trauma emerges in clinical settings. Weaving together systemic ideas, autoethnography, narrative therapy and somatic experiencing, the book charts the history of the gender binary and its roots in colonialism, as well as the way this culture is perpetuated intergenerationally, and the impact this trauma has on all bodies, gender identities and experiences.

Featuring clinical vignettes, exercises and reflexive practices, this is an accessible and intersectional guide for professionals to develop their understanding of gender-derived trauma for supporting clients. Highlighting the importance of applying a trauma-informed approach in practice, this book provides insights as to how we can work towards collective healing, for future generations and for ourselves.

Dr. Alex Iantaffi is the co-author with Meg-John Barker of How To Understand Your Gender and Life Isn’t Binary, both published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. They have researched and published extensively on gender, disability, sexuality, and relationship issues. Alex also works as a therapist and supervisor at their own clinical group practice, Edges Wellness Center LLC, on Dakota and Anishinaabe territories, currently known as Minneapolis, MN (US). They are passionate about healing justice and writing as a form of personal and collective healing. Alex is also the host of the podcast Gender Stories.

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Polly Barton in Conversation with Kate Briggs and Clare Bogen

Yesterday evening we were thrilled to launch Polly Barton’s incredible and genre-defying new book, FIFTY SOUNDS!

Sadly the gods of stable internet were not smiling on us but after a slightly patchy start, Fitzcarraldo’s Clare Bogen stepped in to pose the questions that Kate Briggs had prepared, and completely saved the day in the process!

Thanks so much to Kate for preparing such thoughtful and fascinating questions (and for persevering under such tricky conditions), to Clare for heroically diving into a live event with zero notice, to Polly for offering an incredible constellation of insights into the art of translation and linguistic power, and finally to everyone who joined us live and persevered until we arrived at the hybrid format.

Watch the event from the point at which Clare stepped in below, and we’re confident you’ll want to order a copy of FIFTY SOUNDS immediately. Huge congrats Polly!
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Eileen Myles in Conversation with Isabel Waidner

This week we had the pleasure of hosting a discussion between Eileen Myles and Isabel Waidner, which you can now watch back below!

Eileen read from and talked about their new book, For Now, as well as the circumstances of its creation, and the fundamental entanglement between any writing the conditions in which it is produced. We’d been wanting to host an event with Eileen for many, many years and this did not disappoint.

Huge thanks to Eileen and Isabel, as well as the record crowd that joined us live!