Polari Literary Salon to return to Hull as part of LGBT 50 celebrations

London’s award-winning celebration of emerging and established LGBT writers, Polari, returns to Hull in July at the invitation of Pride in Hull as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017’s LGBT 50 celebrations, presented in partnership with the Sewell Group.

Following a hugely popular event in November 2016, this highly acclaimed literary salon, hosted and curated by critically acclaimed author Paul Burston, will be held in the city once again at Kardomah94 on Thursday 27 July.

Based on the gatherings of writers, artists, philosophers and intellectuals in the 17th and 18th centuries, salons were opportunities for people to meet and share ideas, refine their tastes and increase their knowledge through stimulating conversation. The tradition continued into the early 20th century, most famously and infamously with the Bloomsbury Group.

Polari picks up where these groups left off, creating a setting where people can be exposed to works that may not receive the same exposure as mainstream literature and engage in discussion, sharing thoughts and observations. Established in November 2007 in response to a lack of celebration of LGBT writers, the monthly events began in the upstairs room of a pub in Soho and are now based at the Southbank Centre. The nights have gone from strength to strength with headliners including Jake Arnott, Patrick Gale, Val McDermid, Will Self, Ali Smith and Sarah Waters.

Paul Burston said:

“Literary events can be very dry and worthy, that isn’t what Polari is about. We have a good mix of writers attending and the atmosphere is fun, raucous and, most importantly, supportive of the writers.”

Pride in Hull Trustee Colin Wilson said:

“We are thrilled to be welcoming Polari back to the city as part of LGBT 50. This year is extra special for the LGBT community in Hull, not only is the city enjoying its reign as UK City of Culture, but our Pride event has been named ‘UK Pride’ and, as a country, we are marking the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalization of homosexuality.

“We wanted our programme of events to celebrate the diversity within our own community, along with the diversity in wider society. LGBT people are often stereotyped as looking or behaving in a certain way and having similar interests, but this isn’t an accurate reflection of our community. The same as any group of people, LGBT people have different thoughts and opinions, different tastes in music and art and different personalities. We wanted to ensure that we had events that would appeal to the widest audience as part of LGBT 50 and I think we’ve achieved that.”

On the line-up for this event are Alexis Gregory and VG Lee.

Alexis is an actor, playwright and producer. His plays include ‘Slap’ (Theatre Royal Stratford East and ‘pop up’ performances for Channel 4 – the channel’s first ever theatrical presentation – and additionally at ‘Concrete’ in Shoreditch), published by Team Angelica, currently being adapted by Alexis into a film version and his verbatim piece on LGBT youth homelessness; ‘Safe’ (Soho Theatre and London Theatre Workshop – media partnered with Attitude magazine). He has also had his work performed at the Arcola Theatre, Bush Theatre, St James Theatre and The Bunker. Upcoming projects include the plays ‘Bright Skin Light’ and ‘SexCrime’.

Alexis will be reading from his new verbatim theatre piece; ‘The Riot That Felt Safer Than Home’, created entirely out of his interviews with, among others, a prominent London based 1980s gay activist and one of the only remaining Stonewall survivors – exploring this turbulent period in queer history to commemorate the passing of the bill.

VG Lee is a comedian and critically-acclaimed author of five novels and a collection of short stories. In 2012, her novel, ‘Always you, Edina’ was nominated for a Stonewall Award for writing and in 2014 she won the Ultimate Planet’s Award for Best Established Author.

Her humorous short stories and articles have been published in many magazines and anthologies including The Lady, Mslexia, Boys and Girls, Chroma and Velvet.

As a performer combining comedy readings with stand-up, Lee has appeared all over Britain appealing to a wide audience both straight and gay, young and old. 

Her most recent novel, ‘Mr Oliver’s Object of Desire’ is set in the late 60s/early 70s. One of the central story lines features two gay characters living in the aftermath of the 1967 Act yet still vulnerable to external pressures. 

Martin Green, Director of Hull 2017, said:

“I’m delighted that we will be welcoming Paul Burston back to the city as part of our LGBT 50 celebrations. It was important to us that we represent the whole spectrum of LGBT arts and culture and Polari is a key part of that.”

Tickets are on sale now, priced £6-£8.