Art/image of two speech bubbles with a person of colour speaking in each speech bubble. Image of two screens, one on top of the other, showing a Black woman with curly hair and a woman in a hijab.

SBWN Networking Conference 2021: Staying Connected

We’re thrilled to bring you our online conference – a day of panels, professional development and networking for writers, agents, publishers, editors and fine folk from the literature sector in Scotland and beyond!

We have 4 types of events:

  • Keynote, Panels and Closing Reading open to everyone internationally (book here – bookings open now).
  • 1:1 Q&A sessions with Publishing Insiders for Scotland-based Black and POC writers (book here – bookings open on 9 November).
  • A workshop for Scotland-based Black and POC writers (book here – bookings open now).
  • A drop-in chat room open to everyone internationally – details to come!

Conference Schedule

10:00 – 10:30 am: Keynote Address – Leila Aboulela

10:45 – 11:45am: Panel 1 – Staying Connected to Yourself

12:00 – 1:30 pm: Workshop – Staying Connected to Your Writing Career

12:00 – 2:15 pm: Link up on Twitter #SBWNCon2021

1:30 – 2:15 pm: Lunch/break

2:15 – 4:15 pm: 1:1 Sessions with Publishing Insiders 

2:15 – 4:15 pm: Drop-in Chat Room (networking on Zoom)

4:30 – 5:30 pm: Panel 2 – Staying Connected to Your Roots

5:30 – 6:00 pm: Closing Reading – Andrés N. Ordorica

Please note: Keynote, Panels, Drop-in Chat Room, and Closing Reading are open to writers and literary professionals from ALL backgrounds.

Workshop and 1:1s are open to Black writers and writers of colour based in/from Scotland. 

Access details at the bottom of the page.

Keynote, Panels, Drop-In Chat Room and Closing Reading

Open to writers and literary professionals from ALL backgrounds internationally

Ticket options are:

  • Free for people on low incomes
  • Pay What You Can Donation (suggested £10+) 
  • Can’t attend live? No problem! Recordings of the Keynote, both panels, and our closing reading will be available to all ticket holders. 

Keynote: 10:00 – 10:30 am | Leila Aboulela

Introductions from the SBWN team and our amazing Keynote speaker Leila Aboulela.

Leila Aboulela is the author of five novels: Bird Summons, Minaret, The Translator, a New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year, The Kindness of Enemies and Lyrics Alley, Fiction Winner of the Scottish Book Awards.  She was the first winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing and her latest story collection, Elsewhere, Home won the Saltire Fiction Book of the Year Award. Leila’s work has been translated into fifteen languages and she was long-listed three times for the Orange Prize. She grew up in Khartoum and moved in her mid-twenties to Aberdeen.

Panel 1: 10:45-11:45am  

Staying Connected to Yourself

Myla Corvidae, Bee Asha Singh, Francis Dosoo, and Zebib K. A. (chair)


Our panellists discuss how to maintain self-connection as a writer and creator of colour in today’s world.

This panel is open to attendees from all backgrounds.

About Francis

Francis Dosoo is an artist based in Paris. Their work centres around the utility of memory.

About Myla

Myla is a multi-disciplinary artist, writer and performer working and living in Scotland. They have worked extensively with Queer Heritage Forum, as well as having work recently published with 10:10 Press and Scottish BAME Network.  Currently Myla is setting up UrbanGullsPress – a press dedicated to supporting minorities in publishing.

About Bee Asha

Bee Asha Singh is a spoken word artist born and living in Edinburgh. Between Rap and Poetry her work is a cathartic outlet that she uses to explore themes of sexuality, trauma and gender equality, characterised by an openness to talk about her lived experiences. Her work was rooted in the small town hip hop trio -The Honey Farm. Their satire and sexually explicit music challenges toxic masculinity and encourages female self exploration and confidence. The band were shortlisted for the SAMA awards 2018. Asha is also the co-founder of award winning charity, the Spit it Out project. The project focuses on de-stigmatising conversations on difficult subjects through creativity and challenging societal norms. She released her first solo album in October 2021.

About Zebib

Zebib K. A. (she/her) is a writer and psychiatrist. She is completing a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh. She has been published in The Rumpus, FANTASY Magazine, Apparition Lit, and more. She writes reviews for Spectrum Culture and is in SFWA. She explores psychological themes within speculative fiction. She can be found on Twitter @pegasusunder1, Instagram @pegasusunder, and 

Panel 2: 4:30-5:30pm

Staying Connected to Your Roots

Sukhdev Parhar, Tawona Sithole, Nasim Rebecca Asl, Mara Menzies, Annie George (Chair)

Photo of a South Asian person with short, purple hair and glasses, looking at the camera. Photo of a Black man speaking at a microphone and wearing orange and yellow traditional clothes. Photo of a Middle Eastern woman with long curly hair and a white jumper, smiling at the camera. Photo of a Black woman with short curly hair, bracelets, and colourful patterned trousers, seated and smiling at the camera. Photo of an Indian woman with curly hair looking at the camera.

Our panellists discuss how to cultivate your connections with your roots – personal, creative, collective – as a writer of colour.

This panel is open to attendees from all backgrounds.

About Sukhdev

Sukhy Parhar (they/them or she/her) is a mixed-race, queer multidisciplinary artist. Their existing corpus of work has incorporated themes exploring sexuality, sensuality, spirituality, identity, and ecofeminism. She is currently navigating her way through sobriety and recovery from substance misuse, which is providing the opportunity to explore a whole new lens of discourse, and giving rise to the Towards Sobriety and Reborn projects.

About Tawona

Better known as Ganyamatope (my ancestral family name) my heritage inspires me to connect with other people through creativity. A poet, mbira musician and playwright, I am co-founder of Seeds of Thought, non-profit arts group; Research Associate for MIDEQ Global Migration Hub and UNESCO artist-in-residence at the University of Glasgow.

About Nasim

Nasim Rebecca Asl is a Glasgow based poet and journalist whose work has appeared in multiple magazines. She is currently taking part in the Poetry Translation Centre’s Polylingual Poets Please programme. This year she was awarded a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award for Poetry and appeared on Damian Barr’s The Big Scottish Book Club. 

About Mara

Mara Menzies is an author and performance storyteller who draws on her rich, dual Kenyan/Scottish cultural heritage, to create worlds that explore contemporary issues through legend, myth and fantasy. She fuses ancient and modern in an intoxicating experience where the audience takes centre stage.

About Annie

Annie George is a writer, theatre maker and occasional filmmaker, recently described by The Scotsman as ‘one of Scotland’s most powerful writer-performers’. She was awarded the Scottish Book Trust’s Ignite Fellowship in 2019 and the 2016 Inspiring Scotland bursary (Scottish Book Trust/Saltire Society). Often using memoir, her work is poetic and political. Recent productions include ‘Twa’, a collaboration with visual artist Flore Gardner, and the solo shows ‘Home is Not the Place’ and ‘The Bridge’. Annie was born in Kerala in India, lives in Prestonpans, and has worked in Scottish theatre for thirty years.

Drop-In Chat Room - 2:15-4:15pm

This chat room is open to writers and literary professionals of all backgrounds, internationally. 

Join us on Zoom to get to know your fellow writers, literary professionals and creatives in a relaxed, informal networking space! 

Open to all ticket holders. Details to come….

Closing Reading: 5:30-6pm | Andrés N. Ordorica

Andrés will craft a piece of writing inspired by and reacting to the events of the conference, and will read it live to wrap up the day on a literary high note!

This event is open to attendees from all backgrounds.

About Andrés

Andrés N. Ordorica is a queer Latinx writer based in Edinburgh. He creates worlds filled with characters who are from neither here nor there (ni de aquí, ni de allá). Publishing credits include The Skinny, Bella Caledonia, The Acentos Review, The Guardian, and Gutter. He has featured in Ceremony, We Were Always Here, The Centenary Collection, and Crossing Lines: An Anthology of Immigrant Poetry. In 2020, he was awarded a Second Life grant through the Edwin Morgan Trust. His debut poetry collection, At Least This I Know, will be published in January 2022 by 404 Ink.

For Black Writers and Writers of Colour Based in Scotland

1:1 Q&A Sessions with Publishing Insiders – 2:15-4:15pm

Open to Black writers and writers of colour based in Scotland (or who ordinarily would be outside of COVID-19)

How To Book a 1:1 Session

  • Please go through the list of professionals given below, and select your top 6 choices for people you’d like a 1:1 session within the relevant text box while signing up. We will aim to assign you a session with 3 of them.
  • You can select your choices of people by browsing through the information below or by downloading the PDF. Download the full PDF here.
  • Sessions will last 15 minutes and take place on Zoom.

Booking opens on 9th November.

Note: Some professionals are offering to give feedback on text submitted in advance. Please check under the information for each professional. Once we have assigned the professional to you for a 1:1 session, please email the text to, subject line ‘1:1 sessions – text feedback’ by 20th November 2021. Word count is 500 words or 2 pages double-spaced.


What Should I Talk About?

These 1:1 sessions are a great opportunity to get one-on-one time with insiders from the industry (poets, agents, editors, publishers, marketing professionals) to ask questions about your piece of writing, the editing process, what agents expect from a pitch – anything you’ve wanted to know about the industry.

Depending on the professional you’re having a 1:1 session with, topics could include:

  • Pitch to agents and editors to receive feedback
  • Ask publishing houses, editors and agents what the acquisitions process looks like
  • Ask about marketing, contracts, what the editing process looks like
  • Find out what agents can offer or submitting direct to publishers, journals or magazines
  • Any questions you have around the publishing and literature industry


Download the PDF here for full information on each professional. Here is a quick list. 

• Sally Polson, Editorial Director, Floris Books

• Moira Forsyth, Publishing Director, Sandstone Press

• Rebecca Wojturska, Director, Haunt Publishing

• Francesca Barbini, Founder, Luna Press Publishing

• Jenny Kumar, JK Consultancy/Literature Alliance Scotland

• Duncan Lockerbie, Publishing Director, Stewed Rhubarb (and Tapsalteerie)

• Emma Layfield, Picture Book Developmental Director, Hachette

• Alycia Pirmohamed, Poet/Writer (NOTE: Alycia is available for 3 sessions total rather than 6 sessions)

• Laura Ingate, Senior Marketing Executive, Penguin Random House

• Vikki Reilly, Marketing, Events & Sales Support Manager, Publishing Scotland

• Nick Makoha, Founder, The Obsidian Foundation

• Becky Brown, Editor, Ladybird/Penguin Random House

• Gaelic Books Council

Rosie Kellagher, Dramaturg, NTS

• Lina Langlee, literary agent, The North Literary Agency

• Robbie Guillory, agent, Underline Literary Agency

• Jenny Brown, founder, Jenny Brown Associates

• Shalla Gray, Director, Curly Tale Books

• Pauline Jeremie, Chief Editor, Middleground

• Maddalena Cavaciuti, David Higham Associates

• Camille Burns, David Higham Associates

Workshop: Staying Connected to Your Writing Career with Nadine Aisha Jassat – 12:00-1:30pm

Open to Black writers and writers of colour based in Scotland (or who ordinarily would be outside of COVID-19)

A writers’ career can seem like a mysterious process, whether it’s the business side of navigating contracts, the practical side of managing your own time, or the creative side of developing and understanding your craft and practice. In this gentle and engaging session, Nadine will share key learnings from her own journey in her writing career, as well as facilitating practical activities to do in the session to help you connect to your career, writing and goals.

About Nadine

Nadine Aisha Jassat is the author of Let Me Tell You This, praised as ‘beautifully written, immense and full of passion’ by Nikita Gill and ‘a joy both live and on the page’ by Hollie McNishShe has been published widely; including in Picador’s It’s Not About the Burqa, 404 Ink’s Nasty Women, and Bloodaxe’s Staying Human. Nadine has performed internationally, including with Edinburgh International Book Festival’s Outriders Africa, and has appeared across media, including BBC’s The Big Scottish Book Club. She has taught creative writing across the UK, including for BBC’s Words First programme and The Arvon Foundation. She has drawn significant acclaim: including winning a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award, and being shortlisted for the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award and a Herald Scotland Outstanding Literature award. Nadine was included in Jackie Kay’s International Literature Showcase selection, with Kay writing: ‘Hers is a powerful, unforgettable new voice.’ 


  • Tickets are free or pay what you can (suggested £10+).
  • All events are suitable for people 18+ years.
  • For everyone from all backgrounds, internationally: Keynote, Panels, Closing Reading, and Drop-in Chat Room
  • For Black and POC Scotland-based writers: workshop and 1:1s
  • Events are hosted online using Zoom (instructions will be sent for Zoom 2 days before or can be accessed via the Eventbrite Online Event pages).
  • To participate you will need an internet/wi-fi connection and a desktop or mobile device to join by audio and/or video.
  • Keynote, Panels, Workshop, and Closing Reading:
    • Automatic captioning ( and BSL translation provided 
    • Professionally captioned recordings of Keynote, Panels and Closing Reading available for ticket holders within 6 weeks of event.
  • For 1:1s and Chat Room:
    • Automatic captioning ( provided in the Drop-in Chat Room main room
    • BSL translation available on request – please add your requirements during registration
    • For 1:1s, captioning or note taking may be available – please add your requirements during registration
  • Main programme (Keynote, Panels and Closing Reading) will be recorded, professionally captioned and available to all ticket holders for later viewing, from January – March 2022.
  • Workshop and 1:1s will not be recorded.
  • Comfort breaks 5-15 minutes breaks are scheduled throughout the day. You may mute your mic/switch off video or take a break at any time. 
  • Please add any access requirements to the registration form.
  • All SBWN events and participants will adhere to our Safer Spaces Policy. You can learn more about our policy here.

BSL Interpreters

Our sign language interpreters are Kyra Pollitt and Max Marchewicz

Please note, due to an event clash, we were unable to hire BPOC BSL interpreters on 27th Nov. If you’re looking for BPOC BSL/other sign language interpreters for your own events or activities, check out the Interpreters of Colour Network.

Woman with short hair and silver earrings, signing

Kyra Pollitt (she/her) is an interpreter/translator, with a PhD on poetics in natural sign languages. She won the Inside Arts Poetry Translation Prize in 2012 and is published in Modern Poetry in Translation (2021). Her page poetry was shortlisted for the Elbow Room Prize 2016, and has been published in 3:AM, Magma, Landfall, and Places of Poetry

Her film-poetry has been shown at Edinburgh International Book Festival, StAnza, Wordplay, The Macrobert Centre, and the Scottish Parliament, and appears in the anthology Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back (Nine Arches, 2017). She is editor of Herbology News. @kyra_p

Person with blue hair, sitting in a wheelchair, wearing a black top. LGBTQ+ flag in the background

Max Marchewicz (they/them) is a BSL interpreter based in Nottingham. They also provide access consultancy, training, sound description captioning and audio description. As a queer, disabled and neurodiverse person, they are passionate about community work around intersecting identities.

We’re so excited about our 2021 Conference! Share with your writer friends and use the hashtag #SBWNCon2021 on social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook groupFacebook page and Instagram)

We look forward to seeing you there!