Announcing Jessica Gaitán Johannesson as Wasafiri’s new Writer-in-Residence

By Wasafiri Editor on September 6, 2021 in

We’re delighted to announce the appointment of our new Writer-in-Residence, the writer and climate justice activist Jessica Gaitán Johannesson.

For over three decades, we have created a dynamic platform for mapping new landscapes in contemporary international writing, featuring a diverse range of voices from across the UK and beyond. In the spirit of the magazine, during her six-month residency at Wasafiri, Jessica Gaitán Johannesson will curate and host various writing workshops and online events, with a particular focus on environmental writing and the climate crisis. Keep an eye on our Twitter and Instagram for more details on these upcoming workshops and events.

This follows on from last year’s successful appointment of the poet, translator and critic Jennifer Wong, who led a brilliant series of writing workshops, including a workshop for Chinese-speaking writers. She has also curated a new online festival celebrating Chinese diaspora poets, Poetics of Home, taking place in September 2021. Jennifer’s tenure was preceded by Nick Makoha who appeared at national and international literary festivals – from Birmingham to Berlin – and conducted writing workshops on behalf of Wasafiri in our 35th anniversary year. Before Nick, the writer, presenter, film maker and poet Bidisha served as our first-ever Writer-in-Residence in 2018.

Commenting on her appointment, Jessica said: ‘It’s such a joy and honour to be chosen as Wasafiri’s new Writer-in-Residence. Wasafiri provides a home for conversations (and writers) who don’t always fit within territorial or genre categories and boundaries. Throughout this residency, I particularly hope to explore, alongside others, new ways to engage with the climate crisis in writing: situating ourselves as humans globally and locally, with honesty about historical and present injustice, questioning and bridging the gap between creative writing and activism where we stand.’

Wasafiri’s Editor and Publishing Director, Malachi McIntosh said: ‘Like Wasafiri, much of Jessica’s creative work is rooted in activism. We were thrilled to get to publish her work in Wasafiri 107 and I’m so excited to see what she’ll bring to the residency — not just as a writer, but as a climate justice activist and workshop facilitator. ‘

Jessica Gaitán Johannesson is a Swedish/Colombian writer and climate justice activist based in Edinburgh.  Her writing has appeared in The Stinging Fly, The Scotsman, Witness Magazine and Wasafiri, among other publications. Her debut novel How We Are Translated (Scribe) was published in February 2021 and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize. She facilitates workshops on the colonial roots of the climate crisis and is Digital Campaigns Manager for Lighthouse Books in Edinburgh.


Read a new essay by Jessica in our latest issue, Wasafiri 107: Crisis/Recovery.

Photo by Nicholas Herrmann.