A conversation with: Melissa Febos & Helen Mort

  • DATE

    3 May 2023

  • TIME

    7:00 pm to 8:30 pm



How do we write about the relationships that have formed us? How do we describe our bodies, their desires and traumas? What does it mean to have your writing, or living, dismissed as “navel-gazing”-or else hailed as “so brave, so raw”? And to whom, in the end, do our most intimate stories belong?

In her latest book Body Work, a bold and exhilarating mix of memoir and writing guide, Melissa Febos tackles the emotional, psychological, and physical work of writing intimately while offering an utterly fresh examination of the storyteller’s life and the challenges it presents.

Drawing on her journey from aspiring writer to acclaimed author and writing professor-via addiction and recovery, sex work and academia-Melissa Febos has created a captivating guide to the writing life, and a brilliantly unusual exploration of subjectivity, privacy, and the power of divulgence. Candid and inspiring, Body Work will empower readers and writers alike, offering ideas-and occasional notes of caution-to anyone who has ever hoped to see their true self reflecting back from the open page.

The conversation between the two authors will be followed by an audience Q&A.

About the speakers:

Melissa Febos is the bestselling author of four books, including Girlhood—winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism, and Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative. Her fifth book, The Dry Season, is forthcoming from Canongate Books in the U.K. Her awards and fellowships include those from the Guggenheim Foundation, LAMBDA Literary, the National Endowment for the Arts, The British Library, the Bogliasco Foundation, and others. Febos is a professor at the University of Iowa and lives in Iowa City with her wife, the poet Donika Kelly.

Helen Mort is an award-winning author based in Sheffield. She has published three poetry collections (Division Street, 2013 and No Map Could Show Them, 2016) and her latest, The Illustrated Woman(2022) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize. She is also the author of a novel (Black Car Burning, 2019), a short story collection (Exire, 2019) as well as writing drama and creative non fiction. Her first non-fiction book A Line Above The Sky (Ebury, 2022) was featured in the Guardian and Evening Standard’s ‘books to watch’ lists. She has been shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and Costa Prize and won the Fenton Aldeburgh Prize in 2015. She has taught creative writing for over ten years and is a Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. Helen is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.