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Kit de Waal, Jack Underwood and Alex Wheatle

Understanding Grief

Winter Weekend 2021, 

I measure every grief I meet with narrow, probing, eyes

I wonder if it weighs like Mine – or has an Easier size.”

– Emily Dickinson

Led by Kit de Waal, the panel explores our changed understanding of grief as we emerge from the pandemic and begin to measure its personal and collective impact. They discuss the grief of ‘what could have been’ as a loss equal to that of what once was; they will examine how the pandemic denied us the experiences that punctuate life, as well as those that mark the passing of loved ones; and they will reflect on the absence we experience at the loss of our lives as we knew them before. Drawing on personal experience, they celebrate literature’s power to help us make sense of the world, provide perspective, and enable us to envision different versions of our reality.

Kit de Waal, born to an Irish mother and Caribbean father, was brought up among the Irish community of Birmingham in the 1960s and ’70's. Her debut novel, My Name Is Leon was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. Her latest work, Supporting Cast, a collection of short stories, was published in 2020.

Jack Underwood is a poet, writer and critic. His debut collection of poems, Happiness, won the Somerset Maugham Award in 2015. His work has appeared in The Poetry Review, The New Statesman, Observer, TLS, and Tate Etc. He is a senior lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Alex Wheatle is a YA novelist, poet and playwright. He is a lecturer in creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. His life story featured in Alex Wheatle, the fourth BBC film in the Steve McQueen series Small Axe.

Kit de Waal, Jack Underwood and Alex Wheatle