Language Matters: Social and Environmental Justice in Creative-Critical Practice

a graphic with white text reading "language matters" on a blue and green gradient background
Book Now

Language Matters consists of a creative-critical symposium involving workshops, papers and readings. This will be followed by an evening event with keynote speakers Malika Booker and Hanan Issa.

I want a word for beingness. Can we unlearn the language of objectification and throw off colonized thought? Can we make a new world with new words?
- Robin Wall Kimmerer, Speaking of Nature (2017)

Drawing on Cusicanqui’s (2012) statement that ‘there can be no discourse of decolonisation, no theory of decolonisation, without a decolonising practice’, this event will explore the role of creative-critical writing in contesting global injustices and inequities. Featuring workshops and readings by Malika Booker and Hanan Issa, the symposium will examine the ways in which different modes of practice can perform ‘epistemic disobedience’ (Mignolo 2009) and how each of us might, in the words of Kimmerer, ‘make a new world with new words’.

Recognising the critical intersections of global environmental, economic and social injustices, and valuing the contributions of activists, artists, academics, practitioners and community workers, we aim to provide an inclusive space in which to welcome voices from a wide range of academic, cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Seeking to open up the status of creative-critical writing and its role within the context of social and environmental change, the event will ask how alternative forms of knowledge production and dissemination might help us to forge ecologically and culturally sustainable futures.

This event is organised by the Critical Poetics Research Group, based at Nottingham Trent University in partnership with Nottingham Contemporary.


09:45 - 10:00 Welcome Address: Helena Hunter, Ramisha Rafique and Sarah Jackson

10.00 - 11.00 Workshop: The Act of Reimagining: Towards a Critical Creativity, Malika Booker


11:15 - 12:00

Port Motions, Jac Common & Katy Lewis Hood

Decolonising Language: Thief, Common Names, Greenhouse, Taey Iohe

12.00 - 12.30 Workshop: Life-Writing and the Ghost, Anna Johnson


13.15 - 14.15 Workshop: When Language Chimes, Hanan Issa

14.15 -15.15

My Garden, Sofia Lyall

Constellations of Being: Difference, Ex-nomination and Autotheory, Carmel Doohan

We Only Said Goodbye With Words, Zayneb Allak


15:15 - 16:00 Nottingham Contemporary Gallery Tour with Niall Farrelly

16.00 - 16:30 Workshop: Eco-Magic: Love Work, Ocean Baulcombe-Toppin

16:30 - 17:00 Workshop: Broken Puhelin Chinois, Elina Mikkilä

17:00 - 18:30 Drinks Reception, with readings and performances by Yoojin Lee, Tania Haberland, Jacqueline Ennis-Cole, Becky Cullen and Elinor Rowlands

18:30 - 20:00 Keynote: From Desire Lines to Singing the Dead, Malika Booker and Hanan Issa

Malika Booker is an international writer and multidisciplinary artist whose work is steeped in anthropological research methodology and rooted in storytelling. The founder of Malika’s Poetry kitchen, her collection Pepper Seed (Peepal Tree Press, 2013) was shortlisted for both the OCM Bocas Poetry Prize and the Seamus Heaney Prize in 2014. In 2019 she received a Cholmondeley Award for her outstanding contribution to poetry, and in 2020 she won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem for ‘The Little Miracles’.

Let us partake in the language of wake, lick down dominos,
and make ole talk, come nah man. Meaning, be my brothers tonight.
- Malika Booker, ‘The Garden of Gethsemane’ (2022)

Hanan Issa is a Welsh-Iraqi poet, film-maker, scriptwriter and artist. Her publications include her poetry collection My Body Can House Two Hearts and Welsh Plural: Essays on the Future of Wales. She is part of the writersroom for Channel 4’s award-winning series We Are Lady Parts and is co-founder of the Where I’m Coming From open mic series. She is the current National Poet of Wales and 2022-2023 Hay International Fellow.

Two hearts my body can hold,
so I mould my legacy:
to make space enough for all,
standing tall, I rise, breathe free.
- Hanan Issa, ‘My Body Can House Two Hearts’ (2019)

Cookie Consent