Malorie Blackman and John Agard to headline Stormzy’s #Merky Books literature festival

Stormzy’s award-winning publishing imprint #Merky Books has announced that authors Malorie Blackman, John Agard and rapper Wretch 32 will headline this year’s literature festival.

The two-day festival, which will take place in on Saturday and Sunday 23 April, will run workshops to inspire a new generation of writers, storytellers and creatives.

The free event, sponsored by Netflix, will showcase established authors, such as former Children’s Laureate and author of the Noughts and Crosses series Malorie Blackman, alongside new voices in film, TV, music, photography and writing.

On Saturday 22 April, a panel discussion with “Don’t Go” rapper Wretch 32 and Windrush Child author John Agard will take place, followed by an opening party hosted by Sounds by No Signal, a London-based Black-owned radio station. Blackman will be interviewed by Radio 1 presenter Vick Hope on Sunday 23 April.

Guests can take part in workshops, masterclasses and screenings across the weekend, hosted by Penguin Random House, #Merky Books and Netflix.

Lit in Colour, Penguin Random House’s programme dedicated to diversifying the school curriculum will run a stand, while the employment website for the creative industries, Run The Check, will hold ‘Ask Me Anything’ sessions each day.

“Hide and Seek” musician Stormzy originally partnered with Penguin Random House, to set up #Merky Books in 2018 after he released his book, Rise Up, with the publisher in 2015. The publishing imprint is part of the growing #Merky empire, which already encompasses a record label.

In a statement, the rapper said: “I’m so proud that we’re able to offer a free festival to inspire young creatives. This is going to be our biggest event yet for #Merky Books.”

Stormzy and attendees at 2022’s #Merky Books literature festival (Courtesy of #Merky Books)
Stormzy and attendees at 2022’s #Merky Books literature festival (Courtesy of #Merky Books)

Anne Mensah, Netflix’s VP UK Content added: “Without everyone’s voices represented in the arts, we are so much lesser than we should be. Events like the #Merky Books Literature Festival open up our industry to young people and show the range of real and accessible careers available to them.”

#Merky Books Festival. Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 April. 11am to 11pm. Find free tickets here.