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Fred D'Aguiar

Award winning poet, playwright and novelist, Fred D'Aguiar, visited Birmingham Library Theatre on 26 June 2007 for an evening of award winning poetry and prose to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. D'Aguiar second poetry collection, Airy Hall, focuses on a plantation and informed part of D'Aguiar talk.

Born in London of Guyanese parents, D'Aguiar is currently Co-Director of the Masters of Fine Arts Programme in Creative Writing at Virginia Tech University in America. His novel The Longest Memory, which tells the story of Whitechapel, a slave on an eighteenth century Virginia Plantation, won the Whitbread First Novel Award and was subsequently adapted for Channel 4. D'Aguiar long poem Sweet Thames won the Commission for Racial Equality Race in the Media Award. His subsequent novel, Bethany Bettany was winner of the Guyana Prize for fiction.

Writer and co-ordinator of the event Ava Ming said: "Fred is that rare type of writer whose work appeals equally to lovers of either prose or poetry. He interweaves language, rhythms, and subject matter, evoking a real and current awareness in both audience and readers alike".

The picture shows Fred with Andy Green from the Connecting Histories project. He is showing Fred the Life of Gustavas Vassa (Olaudah Equiano) published in 1793 and the Narrative of the Life of James Watkins, a pamphlet published in 1853 - an account of his "escape from slavery".

Breaking the Chains 2007
Black Writing
Black History in Birmingham Libraries