TOAST Magazine

TOAST Podcast | Series 4 | Flux & Flow

ARTS & CULTURE

For our fourth podcast series, writer and broadcaster Laura Barton explores the theme of Flux & Flow, how we navigate change and the forces that steer our lives. Join Laura as she meets with priest and writer Marie-Elsa Bragg, publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove, author, journalist and broadcaster Joan Bakewell and author Emma Jane Unsworth. With each interview, we discover how the changing self is something to celebrate, and how we all have the capacity for great change and innovation. The episodes will be released weekly throughout October and November.


“There is nothing permanent except change.” 

Heraclitus of Ephesus

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus drew the ultimate lesson for the human condition: as material beings we live in a world of flux, moreover we are flux. He observed that humans, as physical bodies, live in a state of metamorphosis, continually growing and evolving.

Rather than fight this flux, Heraclitus maintained that we should embrace it as the very essence of our existence.

For our fourth podcast series, writer and broadcaster Laura Barton explores the theme of Flux & Flow, how we navigate change and the forces that steer our lives. Join Laura as she meets with priest and writer Marie-Elsa Bragg, publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove, author, journalist and broadcaster Joan Bakewell and author Emma Jane Unsworth. With each interview, we discover how the changing self is something to celebrate, and how we all have the capacity for great change and innovation. 

The episodes will be released weekly throughout October and November. The podcasts are presented by Laura Barton and produced by Geoff Bird. All views expressed in the podcast are the interviewees own and not necessarily those of TOAST. 


Marie-Elsa Bragg

Kicking off our Flux & Flow series, Laura Barton meets priest, writer and spiritual director, Marie-Elsa Bragg in a small park that stands between two churches in Hampstead Garden Suburb. Discussing Marie-Elsa’s early career as a dancer, the devastating loss of her mother, her quiet route to faith, and how 2020 is a real time for keeping vigil. 


TOAST · Flux & Flow Podcast Series 4 | Marie-Elsa Bragg

Marie-Elsa Bragg is a priest and writer. Her first novel, Towards Mellbreak, was about four generations of a Cumbrian Hill farming family looking at spirituality and nature as well as four generations of Christianity. Her second book, Sleeping Letters is a compilation of poetry, fragments of unsent letters and prose facing a family tragedy. As a priest, Marie-Elsa has worked in parishes such as Kilburn and Lisson Grove, London as well as being a Duty Chaplain in Westminster Abbey and Speakers Chaplain House of Commons. She has been a Jesuit trained Spiritual Director for 25 years and runs workshops on creative writing, constellations, mythology and spirituality. 

Portrait by Elena Heatherwick.

Sharmaine Lovegrove

As this year has unfolded, the world has seemed at once more remote and somehow more connected. Growing accustomed to speaking at a distance, Laura Barton meets virtually with our second guest for this series on Flux & Flow, Berlin-based publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove. The founder of Dialogue Books, home to voices often excluded from the mainstream publishing world, discusses her move back to a city she loves, how her own life has encompassed many changes along with her route to becoming one of the most influential figures in modern publishing. 


Sharmaine first opened Dialogue Books as an English-language bookshop in Berlin in 2008, and reignited as a publishing imprint as part of Little Brown UK in July 2017. Dialogue Books shines a spotlight on stories for, about and by readers from the LGBTQI+, disability, working class and Black, Asian, marginalised ethnic communities. The imprint has a clear focus of distinctive, cross-genre titles that spark a conversation across fiction, non-fiction, commercial and literary publishing.

Portrait by Robert Rieger. 

Joan Bakewell 

Over the summer, Laura Barton joined our third podcast guest, Baroness Joan Bakewell in her North London garden to discuss growing up in Stockport, the shift she’s witnessed in women’s rights and the tiny changes that make life more tolerable. 


Joan Bakewell is a writer, broadcaster and Labour peer. Born in Stockport and educated at Cambridge, she began her career as an advertising copywriter before moving into broadcasting. A pioneering female on screen for the BBC in the ’60s, Joan’s television career started with  Late Night Line-Up (1965-72), followed by Heart of the Matter (1988-2000). Joan has been a columnist for The GuardianThe TimesThe Sunday TimesThe Independent and The Telegraph. Her books include the autobiography The Centre of the Bed (2004), the novel All the Nice Girls (2009), and her heartfelt reflections on life with What I leave Behind (2016). Joan was made a CBE in 1999 and a Dame for her services to journalism and the arts in 2008. In January 2011 she took her seat in the House of Lords as Baroness Bakewell of Stockport.


Emma Jane Unsworth

Our final guest for this Flux & Flow series of our TOAST Podcast is the award-winning novelist and screenwriter Emma Jane Unsworth. In October, Laura Barton travelled to Brighton to meet with Emma at the seafront. With seagulls screeching and waves lapping on the shingle shore, they discussed sea swimming, love, leaving the North and Emma’s experience of postnatal depression.

Emma Jane Unsworth has written three novels, including the Sunday Times bestseller Adults. She adapted her novel Animals into a screenplay, and the film, starring Alia Shawkat and Holliday Grainger, premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2019. Unsworth won the British Independent Film Award for Best Debut Screenplay in 2019. She is currently writing several shows for television, including an episode of a comedy drama with Stephen Merchant and a new comedy for the BBC.


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