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Release date: Friday 4 February, 3pm (GMT)

 FREE for all. We know people’s lives are hectic, so we have committed to producing content that you can enjoy whenever you like, wherever you are. Register for free below to receive a ‘watch link’ in your inbox – a little treat from the RSL to you.

Join poet, novelist and playwright, Fred D’Aguiar in conversation with Chair of the Royal Society of Literature, Daljit Nagra, on their lives in poetry. In this free, on-demand event, Fred and Daljit discuss their shared experience of breaking ground in the poetry landscape, explore some of their favourite poets and reflect on 2020 through the lens of D’Aguiar’s most recent work, Year of Plagues: A Memoir of 2020.

Fred D’Aguiar, poet, novelist and playwright, was born in London to Guyanese parents. He grew up in Guyana, returning to England in his teens. He trained as a psychiatric nurse before reading English with African and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kent, Canterbury. He is the author of five novels, including Children of Paradise, about Jonestown, Guyana, and The Longest Memory, which won both the David Higham Prize for Fiction and the Whitbread First Novel Award. His eighth poetry book, Letters to America was a Poetry Book Society Choice. His numerous plays have been staged in the UK and broadcast on BBC radio. He has lived in the US since the 1990s and he is currently Professor of English at University of California Los Angeles. Year of Plagues: A Memoir of 2020 (August 2021) is his first non-fiction book. The plagues referred to in the title include the COVID-19 pandemic, the author’s own battle with cancer and the social unrest brought about by the public lynchings of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, and murder of Breonna Taylor in the States, and the subsequent growth of the Black Lives Matter movement. Despite the pain and hardships of D’Aguiar’s subject matter, Year of Plagues is a musical, poetic, often humorous mixture of autobiography and meditations on society and literature.

Daljit Nagra is Chair of the Royal Society of Literature, is on the Council of The Society of Authors, is Adviser to Poetry By Heart, and is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Brunel University. He has won the Forward Prize for Best Individual Poem and Best First Book, the South Bank Show Decibel Award, the Cholmondeley Award, and the Royal Society of Arts Travelling Scholarship. His books have been nominated for the Costa Prize and twice for the T.S. Eliot Prize. He has been selected as a New Generation Poet by the Poetry Book Society. He is presenter of Poetry Extra on BBC Radio 4 Extra and his collection Look We Have Coming to Dover! was selected as one of ‘Ten of Faber’s Most Iconic Collections’ at Faber & Faber’s 90th birthday.

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