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ALCS supports OWN IT! book launch at Hackney Empire

The book launch of Mama Can’t Raise No Man by Robyn Travis got off to an excellent start on Tuesday 27 September when The Bookseller revealed that Hackney Empire had sold 600 tickets for the event. Including sales on the door, 900 tickets overall were sold for the event.

Hosted by award winning comedian Kojo, the packed out programme showcased the talent of House Gospel Choir and included appearances from comedians Judi Love and Slim. Hugely emotive spoken word performances were given by George the Poet and Suli Breaks, both of which tackled issues faced by the black community.
Robyn Travis took questions from the audience and thanked the Hackney community for showing such huge support for his work. He highlighted that he wanted his writing to mean change for young people, describing his joy at readers who got in touch to say that his work had inspired and helped them.
Mama Can’t Raise No Man is Travis’s first foray into fiction, exploring different definitions of masculinity in today’s society from a black male perspective. The novel is being released through independent publisher OWN IT! whose mission is to tell ‘diverse stories for diverse audiences in diverse ways’. During his appearance Travis praised the work of his publisher and its aim in publishing so-called ‘niche’ stories.
OWN IT! founder, Crystal Mahey-Morgan, explained: "I worked in mainstream publishing for eight years and I left because publishers weren't publishing books like Robyn's. These stories need to be heard. Publishers say there isn't an audience for books like this, but look at us here."
Recent research funded by ALCS shows the huge need to increase the representation of people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and working class backgrounds in the creative industries. This has been noticed by Parliament and industry alike, and ALCS has been looking at practical ways to help this process.
Barbara Hayes, Deputy Chief Executive of ALCS has been overseeing this work: “We’re extremely supportive of OWN IT!’s work to engage young and diverse audiences, specifically in a demographic often overlooked by the literary world. We wish Robyn, and Crystal the very best of luck, and their work in pulling together such a successful launch on Tuesday was a huge achievement. Unfortunately at the moment the creative world isn’t representative of our diverse nation, particularly in cities like London. But the work of OWN IT! is certainly instrumental in helping to address the issue, and we’re delighted to support them.”
See the ALCS funded research into diversity in the creative industries: Writing the Future.

See pictures from the event below.

Robyn Travis on stage with comedian Kojo

The event held at Hackney Empire sold 900 tickets

House Gospel Choir performing at the event

Spoken word poet Suli Breaks

Pictures by Esub Miah

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