Anita Sethi: I Belong Here (online event)
The 10th Brontë Festival of Women’s Writing presents a special event with Anita Sethi, author of I Belong Here.
Chosen as a Guardian literary highlight of 2021, Anita Sethi’s I Belong Here was written after she became the victim of a race hate crime while travelling through Northern England. After the event Anita experienced panic attacks and anxiety. A crushing sense of claustrophobia made her long for wide open spaces, to breathe deeply in the great outdoors. She was intent on not letting her experience stop her travelling freely and without fear.
The Pennines called to Anita with a magnetic force; although a racist had told her to leave, she felt drawn to further explore the area she regards as her home, to immerse herself deeply in place. Anita’s journey through the natural landscapes of the North is one of reclamation, a way of saying that this is her land too and she belongs in the UK as a brown woman, as much as a white man does.
Hear Anita talk with writer Helen Mort about a journey that gave her the perspective to reflect upon the important issues encompassed in her experience of abuse including speaking out, gaslighting, trauma, kindness, and notions of strength. Her journey transforms what began as an ugly experience of hate into one offering hope and finding beauty after brutality.
Anita Sethi was born in Manchester, UK where her love of nature first flourished in childhood, in wild urban spaces. I Belong Here is the first in her nature writing trilogy. She has also contributed to anthologies including Seasons, Seaside Special: Postcards from the Edge, Common People, The Wild Isles and Women on Nature. She has written for the Guardian, Observer, i, Sunday Times, Telegraph, Vogue, BBC Wildlife, New Statesman and Times Literary Supplement, and appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book, Front Row and Today, BBC 5 Live and Sky. She has been shortlisted for Northern Writer of the Year at the Northern Soul Awards and Journalist of the Year at the Asian Media Awards, and judged the British Book Awards, Costas and Society of Author Awards. She has lived around the world including being International Writer in Residence for the Emerging Writers Festival in Melbourne.
Helen Mort has published two poetry collections with Chatto & Windus, ‘Division Street’ (2013) and ‘No Map Could Show Them’ (2015). She won the Fenton Aldeburgh Prize for best first collection. Her novel ‘Black Car Burning’ was published in 2019. She teaches creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and she is also the author of ‘Lake District Trail Running’ and ‘Never Leave The Dog Behind’ (Vertebrate). She edited ‘Waymaking’: art and writing by women on adventures.