An exclusively bona double bill from some of the best-known names in LGBT+ writing and performance in the beautifully intimate surroundings of King Edward Street Chapel. Troll on in!

Polari Literary Salon with Paul Burston

London’s award-winning LGBT+ literary salon comes to LIT. Founded in 2007 by author Paul Burston, Polari showcases the best in emerging and established LGBT+ literary talent.

Named Best Cultural Event in the Co-Op Respect Loved by You Awards 2013, the salon is based at London’s Southbank Centre and also tours regularly.

Tonight’s event is programmed and hosted by Burston, with guest performers including award-winning authors Rosie Garland, VG Lee and Okechukwu Nzelu.

Bona to Vada your Dolly old Eek! with Jez Dolan

Do you know your Batts from your luppers, or your groin from your gamp? If Lilly Law came trolling would she scarper?

Join artist Jez Dolan for a fantabulosa mince through the bona world of Polari, The ‘Lost Language of Gay men’ and explore where West End chorus boys met Italian Showmen, where Jewish travellers conversed with East End Costermongers, and how what emerged was the perfect way for gay men in the mid 20th century to both disguise themselves and find each other.

So lau your luppers on the strillers bona, schlumph your vera and screech ‘Your actual French” with some dolly omies, Palones and Antique H. P’s. All will be explained…


Paul Burston is the author of six novels and the editor of two short story collections. His latest novel is the bestselling psychological thriller The Closer I Get. He is curator and host of award-winning LGBT+ literary salon Polari at the Southbank Centre and founder of The Polari First Book Prize for debut writers and The Polari Prize for established writers.

In 2016, he was featured in the British Council’s Global List of  ’33 visionary people promoting freedom, equality and LGBT rights around the world.’ His writing has appeared in The Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times and many other publications. He has also written and presented documentaries for Channel 4 and is a frequent contributor to TV and radio.

Jez Dolan is an artist based in Manchester. His work explores queerness and identity through the codification of language, with a specific focus on secrecy and hiddenness – the things we don’t say. He has exhibited and performed in museums and galleries, and his work is in collections internationally including The British Museum, The V&A, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, HOME, The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, NYC, The UK Parliament Art Collection & Archives, The Walker Art Gallery Liverpool, and The Schwules* Museum Berlin. Photo credit Daniel Walmsley.

Rosie Garland is the inaugural Writer-in-Residence at The John Rylands Library in Manchester. She writes long and short-form fiction, poetry and sings with post-punk band The March Violets. Her award-winning short stories, poems and essays have been widely anthologised. Her latest poetry collection is ‘As In Judy’ (Flapjack Press 2017). Rosie’s pamphlet ‘Everything Must Go’ (Holland Park Press 2012) draws on her experience of throat cancer. She was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship in 2017. She’s also received the DaDa Award for Performance Artist of the Year, the Diva Award for Solo Performer, and a Poetry Award from the People’s Café, New York. She’s proud to have been blessed by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

VG Lee is the critically-acclaimed author of five novels and a collection of short stories. Sarah Waters said, “Lee writes with unfailing warmth and wisdom” while Andrea Levy praised her “light touch, wonderful laconic style and spot-on humour.” In 2012, Lee was nominated for a Stonewall Award for writing and in 2014 she won the Ultimate Planet Award for Best Established Author. Her most recent novel, Mr Oliver’s Object of Desire was runner up for the YLVA Publishing Literary Prize for Fiction 2017. Her second short story collection, Oh You Pretty Thing was published by Tollington Press this February.

Okechukwu Nzelu is a writer and teacher. He was born in Manchester in 1988, read English at Girton College, Cambridge and completed the Teach First programme. His work has been published in the iAgendaPN Review, E-magazine and The Literateur and in 2013 his radio play, Me and Alan, was broadcast on Roundhouse Radio. His essay ‘Troubles with God’ was published in the anthology Safe: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space (Trapeze, 2019). In 2015 he was the recipient of a New Writing North Award for The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney, which is his debut novel.


Sold Out