Stormzy’s #Merky Books launched around this time last year with its first title, Rise Up, a documentation of the rapper and his team’s ascension to stardom, and aims to publish two or three books per year as a platform for “a new generation of voices”. The follow-up title proved its mission; Taking Up Space: The Black Girl’s Manifesto for Change by Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi gave prominence to a vital topic (the lack of diversity in UK Higher Education institutions) that might otherwise not have enjoyed the same attention. Now, a pop-up event from the imprint is celebrating a mixture of creative disciplines in the hope of spreading its impact through a new form.
The three-day event in Shoreditch starts Thursday (14 November) and features an illustrator workshop led by Dapo Adeola of Dapsdraws and Chanté Timothy; a screening of short film Serious Tingz followed by a talk by writer and director Abdou Cissé; and a panel discussion led by Taking Up Space co-author Chelsea Kwakye about which books should be on the national curriculum. There are also writing clinics; a song-writing workshop with Darren Chetty; the launch of Derek Owusu’s That Reminds Me – #Merky’s latest publication – and a panel discussion on the topic of creativity beyond books, chaired by Nate Agbetu from creative social enterprise Play Nice.
Visitors can also peruse books by authors of colour, zines, prints and Merky merch, and listen to audiobooks at a Beats listening station. Podcasts Generation Vex, Black Gals, Livin, 90s Baby Show and Off the Cuff will also be recording special episodes at the event.
The event is entirely sold-out – just in case anyone needed proof of the need, and market for, events like this – but you can sign up to the waiting list here. #Merky Books Pop-Up Shop is open 14–16 November at The Beats By Dr Dre Residency, 4 Chance Street, London.
Earlier this year #Merky Books also ran a New Writers’ Prize, an open submission competition to find new works across a range of genres. The inaugural prize was awarded in June 2019 to co-winners Hafsa Zayyan and Monika Radojevic.