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So the time has come to say farewell, adieu, aufweidesehan.
I’m heading off from Free Word this Friday after two years of heading up the programme. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside some truly talented people, and with artists and writers for whom the written word is a vital talisman of meaning in a scrambled and mercurial world.
Our Wanderlust series has taken me from student uprisings in Korea to indefinite internment in fictional lands, from murder in paradise to love on the streets of Burkina Faso. Our Unravelling Europe series enabled me to debate frontline national politics with expert thinkers and campaigners. I’ve heard first-hand stories of government oppression and wry feats of courage in the unlikeliest of places. I’ve had my spirit lifted in spite of the state of the world and I’ve found strength in the rallying cry of spoken word. I’ve constantly been in awe of the artfulness to be found in writing, storytelling and translating and I’ve been undeniably moved by the skill and passion of those that make this their work.
Thank you to everyone who has been part of that experience. Undoubtedly, Free Word will continue to be a space that champions unheard voices and artistic truth.
I’m moving on to The Cheltenham Trust where I will be working with literature but also with visual arts, music, comedy and dance. I take with me a valuable way of seeing the world, and believing in it too.
The entire team at Free Word, residents and associates all wish Sophie the very best of luck on her new ventures. We congratulate The Cheltenham Trust on gaining a warm, dedicated and undeniable talent – and leave you with a very fitting Word of the Day: SOPHOPHILE (noun) – One who loves wisdom and learning; from the greek origin of sophia (wisdom) and philiac (love).
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If you’re a journalist, critic, blogger or writer interested in examining the arts, you could win a first prize of £3000 and have your work published in the Observer. Find out more and enter by 30 November 2017.