16 Mar

Privilege: Let’s Check Ours At The Door

13:00 — 18:00
Scottish Poetry Library, 5 Crichton's Close, Edinburgh, EH8 8DT

The annual symposium organised by Scottish PEN’s Women Writers Committee and IASH in honour of International Women’s Day will this year explore the issue of Privilege.

Privilege is the ease and safety with which you walk through the world. It is the expectation that when you speak, you will be listened to and believed. It is the enacting of the understanding that you are a person of value. Privilege shapes how we see ourselves in the world, but also how others see us, oftentimes shaped by systems we had no part in constructing, whether that is colonial, capitalist, racist and patriarchal structures. So while not being directly responsible for them, per se, it is still vital to recognise where they occur, and to act accordingly. The worst thing we can do with our privilege is stay ignorant of it and believe that because something doesn’t affect us, we don’t need to speak up about it.

Privilege can cut across identities, backgrounds and beliefs and the diverse panel of speakers, including Sawsan Al-Areeqe, Callie Gardner, Kerry Hudson and Donna Williams, will draw from their own experiences and work to explore this issue and how we can be aware of our position in the world to ensure everyone can express themselves. This challenging issue will bring together a rich debate on our interactions with the world and people around us, how power affects how we can speak and be heard, how to be an ally to others and be aware of the forces that can encourage silence.

This annual Scottish PEN/IASH Symposium hosted in honour of International Women’s Day has become known for open, diverse, challenging and welcoming conversations on subjects that are important to women and non-binary individuals.


Callie Gardner – Callie Gardner is a poet and editor based in Glasgow. Their book-length poem naturally it is not. is published by The 87 Press and they edit Zarf Poetry magazine and its associated pamphlet press Zarf Editions.

Kerry Hudson – Kerry Hudson was born in Aberdeen. Her first novel, Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma, won the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust First Book Award and was shortlisted for an array of prizes including the Guardian First Book Award and the Sky Arts Awards. Thirst, her second novel, won the prestigious Prix Femina Etranger.

Her most recent non-fiction book, Lowborn takes her back to the towns of her childhood as she investigates her own past and what it means to be poor in Britain today.

Donna Williams – Donna Williams is a deaf poet working in English and British Sign Language. Working with such different languages has inspired a deep interest in translation and how her work can be made accessible to signing and non-signing audiences. She has performed at festivals around the UK including the Edinburgh Fringe, as well as in America and Brazil. Several of her poems have been published, most recently in Stairs and Whispers, an anthology of poem by deaf and disabled poets, and issue 69 of Magma magazine. Her poems cover many themes, from bilingualism to identity, to her beloved cats.

More biographies to come