Speaking Volumes Live Literature Productions is made up of Sharmilla Beezmohun, Sarah Sanders and Nick Chapman.

First meeting at International PEN in 2008, Sarah and Sharmilla ran the annual Free the Word! Festivals in the UK and curated events around the globe. Later, Nick joined the team to assist with the 2010 festival. It was after that success that Sarah and Sharmilla took a huge leap of faith to set up Speaking Volumes in 2010, with Nick coming on board two years later. Our name was the genius inspiration of one our favourite writers from our time at PEN, the brilliant author and actress Pauline Melville.

Just two years later, in 2012, we secured our first major grant to run the UK poetry tour of Poetry Parnassus, part of London’s Cultural Olympiad. The Southbank Centre hosted one poet from every Olympic country in the capital, programming a week of varied events; we then organised a nationwide poetry tour over the next two weeks, working with over 50 poets at 30 events. From Belfast to Cambridge, from Edinburgh to Devon, we travelled the length and breadth of the country with groups of poets, who took part in festival readings, library workshops, discussions on Shakespeare, poetry slams … and everything in between. It was our baptism of fire but, exhausted whilst we watched the London Olympics afterwards, it made us realise this was the scale and scope of Speaking Volumes’ ambitions — which we could achieve, with a lot of hard work, imagination and passion. And it’s been that way ever since.

Meet the team

What People Say

The team at Speaking Volumes has been one of the most professional organisations I have worked with during my adult life… motivated by a strong belief in the writers they have chosen to work with.

Colin Grant, Author

[Speaking Volumes’] contacts and knowledge of the literature scene are invaluable and allow them to punch well above their weight… They are a uniquely effective organisation for their size

Jill Coleman, BookTrust

Speaking Volumes performs an important role in the UK literature sector championing and supporting the work of writers of colour, and has demonstrated a number of innovative
initiatives in order to achieve this aim.

Matt Beavers, British Council

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