FACT Bookgroup: The Book of the Film

Ella Jolly writes to let us know about the book group she runs at FACT in Liverpool and invites anyone interested to attend. The group is being ‘revamped’ from January 2009, to allow screenings of films to take place before the group meets, but the line-up in the coming months looks great too:

Monday 29th September at 6:30pm in the FACT cafe: ‘The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas’ by John Boyne

Monday 27th October at 6:30pm in the FACT cafe: ‘Brideshead Revisited’ by Evelyn Waugh

Monday 24th November at 6:30pm in the FACT cafe: ‘Quantum of Solace’ by Ian Fleming

Why not come along to enjoy lively discussion of the books behind some famous films?

Information about FACT is here.

Literature Festivals: Spoilt for Choice in the North West

Cheltenham Literature Festival. Hay-on-Wye Literature Festival. Edinburgh International Book Festival. These are the ‘big’ names in British literary festivals. They are to literature festivals what Glastonbury is to music festivals. Yet like Glastonbury, sometimes the ‘big’ loses appeal and we desire something a little more intimate, a little more quirky, something a little different. As has happened with musical festivals, there has been a surge of smaller literary festivals appearing over the last couple of years serving up some engaging and intriguing literary events. In the North West of England we are spoilt for choice this autumn.

Coming up first is the Sefton Celebrates Writing Festival (22nd September – 28th September), boasting a line-up of top literary names. From readings by novelist Will Self, poets Carol Ann Duffy and Jackie Kay, to performance poetry by Luke Wright and the Potted Potter experience, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The festival also features a range of drama performances and free writing and publishing workshops within its programme.

Launching on National Poetry Day, is the new annual Chapter & Verse Literature Festival for Merseyside at the Bluecoat from 9th – 19th October (programme available very soon), featuring an exciting range of contemporary writers and performers from Merseyside and beyond. The Festival includes over 45 events and activities for lovers of words and the curious alike – from readings, book signings, talks, discussions, to performances and workshops – all under the Bluecoat’s historic roof. Amongst the writers appearing are: Tariq Ali, Jim Crace, Linda Grant, John Healy, Jan Morris,  Lemn Sissay, and Sadie Jones. Read more at ‘Poetry in the City’. The Reader Organsiation will be running daily ‘Reading and Discussion’ groups around the festival’s writer and book events; hosting poetry and prose reading ‘clinics’ to help solve life’s problems; and bringing stories to life in Children’s storytelling sessions.

From 6th – 24th October is the Shell Chester Literature Festival. Making the most of Chester’s myriad of small personable venues and spaces, the Shell presents an assortment of colourful and thought provoking events mainly within the city walls. Featuring an eclectic mix of national and local author events alongside innovative participatory activities aiming to capture the public’s imagination, headliners this year include Chris Patten, Esther Rantzen, David Owen, Michael Morpurgo, Martin Bell, Nicholas Crane and Ffion Hague.

 Manchester Literature Festival (16th- 26th October), now in its third year, attracts writers from all over the world and showcases plenty of local talent. With events ranging from Past Crimes to A Place for Romance and literature in translation to children’s fiction, the programme caters for all literary tastes. There are a series of readings, debates and workshops exploring the interplay between literature and science as part of the Big Science Read Weekend. The festival line-up includes: Patience Agbabi, Stephen Baxter, Ciaran Carson, Jim Cartwright, Mavis Cheek, Ramón Chao, Russell T Davies, Bernadine Evaristo, Laura Fish, Corsino Fortes, Jorie Graham, Adrian Mitchell, Jenni Murray, Sean O’Brien, Anne Perry, Posy Simmonds, Xinran plus many more!

There’s Shipping Lines Liverpool Literary Festival, held between 3rd – 9th November, brought to you by the University of Liverpool and organised by The Reader Organisation to celebrates Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture. The festival features some real movers and shakers from the local, national and international literary world: Philip Pullman, author of the astounding His Dark Materials, in conversation; Liverpool poets Roger McGough, Brain Pattern, Paul Farley and others for engaging and entertaining readings; novelists Malorie Blackman, Andrea Levy and Caryl Phillips who will read from and discuss their work; and much, much more. The official launch of The Reader Organisation, ‘Launching a Reading Revolution’ is being held at Bibby Line Group HQ on Friday 7th November. The full festival programme is available online and the paper brochure will be available from September 22nd. Email events@thereader.org.uk for more information. Or better yet, subscribe to our email update service to get up to the minute news and information direct to your inbox. Get Shipping Lines Liverpool Literary Festival news by email here. Or subscribe to the regular RSS feed here.

A brief mention of The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival though, seeing as last year it provided me with such delectable treats, a great deal of literary entertainment  and it’s also the place I call home. This year’s festival, held between 10th – 19th October does not disappoint with its array of award-winning writers, star names and celebrated thinkers, continuing to be recognised as the hub for literary debates and discussions. Janet Suzman, who is taking part in a panel discussion, ‘Becoming Cleopatra’, at the festival (Sunday 12th October), has an interview with editor Phil Davis in the latest issue of The Reader it is honest and witty, revealing the core of reality that she brings to her characters. Normally wary of reading such things, we know that she is plased with it (and has enjoyed reading the rest of the issue – so there’s a celebrity recommendation for you!).

We’ll be bringing you select news and reviews from events across the North West’s literary festivals over the coming months. Of course, what Festival Girl wants to know is which one will have the best cake?

Posted by Jen Tomkins

Get all of our our Literary Festival News by Email Here.

Jane Davis: In Praise of Liverpool ’08

Is ’08 happening in Liverpool? Yes and yes, yes, yes. Taking the train home from London on a Friday night I see there are tourists heading to Lime Street reading guides to the city and our Capital of Culture events: young metropolitan couples staying with friends in Liverpool and planning to visit the galleries and clubs… and we make that journey in two and half hours now, thanks to the Virgin Pendolino. Liverpool ’08 is happening now. It began to feel it when the Tall Ships brought an amazing buzz to the city, the dock area teeming with visitors and locals alike. Wandering in the crowd you could feel that Liverpool still loves ships, they are part of us: we miss them. And this odd stirring to life feeling begins. For The Reader Organisation, ’08 has meant raising the game, making new working relationships, looking up.

We are about to deliver Shipping Lines Liverpool Literary Festival (website details available soon) for the University of Liverpool. It’s an amazing festival programme to have got up and running in one year – congratulations to everyone but especially Renee – and we wouldn’t have done it without the University’s desire to make something wonderful for ’08 and willingness to put hard cash behind that desire.

Wirral Community Shakespeare wouldn’t have happened without ’08. This amazing event got started in January when our Get Into Reading project started a weekly Shakespeare reading group at The Lauries Community Centre in Birkenhead. We forged a partnership with the Aspire Trust who brought in the wonderful Aspire photographic artists Joan Evans and Michelle Molyneux, Assistant Director Mandy Reevers-Rowe and Music Director, Ceri Williams – all new colleagues and people we will want to work with again. We wouldn’t have made these connections without ’08. Photos of the rehearsals and show can be seen here.

It was an utter delight to me to see so many people from Get Into Reading playing a part in the final production. I saw Louise striding across the huge and verdant stage, looking as confident as a catwalk model, with that beautiful and elegant dog – of course The Reader Organisation’s Shakespeare has a dog in it! Of course! – and I listened enthralled as Portia Sugarev of the Get Into Reading Leasowe group said her lines, and as the washer women scene unfolded… and I thought: we wouldn’t have done this if it wasn’t for ’08.

Many, many thanks to all our supporters, financiers, friends and relations for getting this show on the road and big thanks to Starbucks, for keeping the cast, crew and production team going in coffee and cake. We needed those refreshments!

As we struck set and decamped from Birkenhead Park I had a conversation with Park Ranger Paul Davies about how we might develop a project for the young people who hang out in the park (and who didn’t cause us a jot of bother during show week) so as to get them involved in Wirral Community Shakespeare next year (oh yes… there will be a next year). Ranger Paul, a martial arts instructor, is about to play the Soporific Argentinian in the production of Moulin Rouge. Now there’s a skillset. Watch this space for news of the project.

Then last night I was in the packed Philharmonic Hall to stand and cheer Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker playing Wagner Prelude and Liebestod, Tristan and Isolde and Messiaen Turangalila Symphony. This was an electrifying performance – and in the case of the Messiaen of a work I’d never have been able to concentrate on as recorded music. The double basses were superbly violent and heavy, like bloody great rhinoceroi at one side of the platform, the man with cymbals breathtakingly wide armed and Sir Simon himself, utterly mesmerising, as life and power and intelligence flowed through his body, down his arms, and out of his fingertips (and hair!) to irradiate the entire hall and audience with a burning energy.

Live events, I thought, remembering last week’s production of The Winter’s Tale, are an altogether different order of experience. And here we are getting them, week in and week out, in Liverpool at the moment. Later this afternoon, to round off my week of eclectic experiences I’m going to go and seek out The Spider

Posted by Jane Davis

Front Row: La Machine

Tune in to BBC Radio 4 this evening between 7-7.45pm to hear Phil Davis, editor of The Reader magazine on Front Row talking about ‘La Machine’, a 50ft mechanical spider which is currently clinging to the side of a redundant office block near Liverpool’s Lime Street Station.

I have been following around La Princess – the Spider – for days now, waiting for her to wake up (she slept through her crane lift). Reporting on her awakening today…

The creature will then begin exploring the city, forming part of a huge piece of street theatre throughout the city at various landmarks, culminating in what organisers are calling a “spectacular finish” on Sunday. Creepy.

The Reader magazine, issue 31 is to be published on September 9. Read all about it here. Download a free recent back issue of the magazine here.

Mace and Jones Short Story Competition

Leading Merseyside law firm, Mace & Jones, is launching a short story competition to coincide with Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture.

Mace & Jones head of employment law and celebrated crime fiction author Martin Edwards [who edited the recent Crime Writers Association anthology M.O. which I’m enjoying at the moment–Ed.] said the firm is aiming to make a meaningful contribution to the Capital of Culture celebrations. “The short story is a marvellous literary form I am passionate about,” he said.  “The idea is simple. We encourage both amateurs and professionals to submit a story on the theme of ‘justice’. From the judging panel’s viewpoint the field is wide open.”

The competition has a maximum word count of 3,000 words and a deadline of August 31 2008. All entry fees of £10 go to Local Solutions, a charity supported by Mace & Jones. The short story competition is open to entrants of any age and background, whether they are published authors or beginners, with the prizes on offer being first prize £500, second prize £250, third prize £150 and fourth, £100.

All entries should be typed, indented, double-spaced and written in Size 12 Times New Roman font. Entries can be submitted by email via the Mace & Jones Website, www.maceandjones.co.uk, or by standard post to: Samantha Kinnear, Mace & Jones, Drury House, 19 Water Street, Liverpool, L2 0RP. Cheques and Postal Orders should be made payable to Mace & Jones and please include a Self Addressed Postcard with all postal entries to receive notification of receipt of entry.

Further details can be obtained from Mace & Jones’ Marketing Manager, Samantha Kinnear, on samantha.kinnear[AT]maceandjones.co.uk.

Mace & Jones, which has offices in Liverpool, Manchester and Knutsford in Cheshire, has long had literary connections. Two previous senior partners, Brian Fraser Harrison and Barrie Marsh, published books and, more recently, Martin Edwards has published non-fiction books, edited and contributed to short story anthologies and written highly acclaimed crime fiction novels, including his much loved Lake District Mysteries and the ever popular Harry Devlin series which is set to return in May with Waterloo Sunset (Alison & Busby).

Kitchen Table Lingo

You’re not going to get far just thingying your wotsit, madam, and, sir, I’m afraid the door policy means your whatchermightcallit is out of the question. Once upon a time you could have gained acceptance by gyring and gimbling in the wabe, but too late now. Time races fast in the fluid world of language.

It is of course virtually impossible to find passwords/usernames/email addresses that have not already been taken, but The English Project’s new initiative, ‘Kitchen Table Lingo’ takes the inventiveness of the English language’s resources even further, and is looking for your made up words. Words for your whatchermightcallit, for example, or baby words, or that grunting syllable that uniquely expresses bafflement in your close circle of friends. What do you shout instead of ‘Goooooaaaaal!”? Follow this link to read more and to register your new-fangles.

Their only stipulations are that words have to be new-coined, not included in the OED, or at least, not with the usage that you give to them, and your new words have to be currently used by three or more people, and have been used for more than a month. (Don’t just make them up for the occasion, for truly truly God is watching with Dr Johnson on his right hand side.)

They’ll start publishing contributions in their Databank on the 1st of July, and there is even the tantalising mention of an Award for some lucky contributor.

Here’s the link again.

Event: The impact of German-language culture in the UK

How receptive is the British public to the history and culture of its close neighbours in German-speaking Europe? Come and listen to 6 industry specialists from publishing, theatre and the art world discussing the practical challenges and cultural considerations in packaging German-language culture for a British audience. Have the fall of the wall, the increased profile of contemporary German-language film and literature in translation, and the successful hosting of the 2006 World Cup altered British attitudes to the German-speaking countries, or do representatives of all things German still find themselves battling against ingrained stereotypes? Is the dramatic decline in European language learning at British schools cementing intolerance and cultural indifference for generations to come, or might it actually increase the market for translation and specialist cultural mediation?

Featuring: Chair: Michael Schmidt, Professor of Poetry (Glasgow), editor Carcanet Press
Christoph Grunenberg, director of Tate Liverpool
Karen Leeder, Reader in German (Oxford), freelance translation and radio work
Walter Meierjohann, Associate Director at Young Vic Theatre, London
Rebecca Morrisson, Editor of New Books in German (London)

This event is a round-table discussion followed by questions from the floor. It is being held in The Auditorium at Tate Liverpool on Thursday 24th July at 5.30pm. The event is free but pre-registration is needed. Please email rebecca.braun [AT] liv.ac.uk or lyn.marvyn [AT} liv.ac.uk to book your place. To find out more information click here.

Local Literary Events

There are some really fantastic literature events coming up over the next few weeks in the North West, including author readings, drama and poetry performances and literary workshops. We have pulled together a few highlights to showcase some of what’s on offer this month.

Events across Liverpool:

Rob Chapman and Willy Vlautin, Monday 7th April 7.30pm – 9pm, the Bluecoat, tickets £7/5

This is an event for both literature and music lovers alike – two authors with a music background read from their new novels:

Manchester’s Rob Chapman regularly contributes to Mojo, Uncut and The Times. Dusk Music is a darkly comic account of a musician’s career, featuring real-life characters and events such as Jimi Hendrix and the famous Hyde Park concerts.

Musician Willy Vlautin‘s writing has been praised for its “compassion and warmth” (The Times). Willy will read extracts from his second novel Northline, accompanied by the specially composed soundtrack to the novel.

Endgame, 11th April – 3rd May, 7.45pm, the Everyman, tickets £8 – £12.50

Two Matthews. Two Dustbins. No Plot.

A man who can’t stand up, and one who can’t sit down.
Two legless parents and a three-legged dog.
A telescope, a ladder and a fugitive rat.
The stage is set.
How will it end?

Featuring a return to the Everyman stage, alumnus Matthew Kelly returns to Liverpool with his son Matthew Rixon, in a new production of Samuel Beckett’s ‘masterpiece of the absurd’ directed by the award-winning Lucy Pitman-Wallace.

Costa Liverpool Poetry Café, Open Mic Night – Monday 14th April, 7.30-9.30, Costa, Bold Street, free

Heart Beats Rhyme and Roll Poetry Night with Poetry in the City present Salt poets, Tuesday 15th April, 7.30pm – 10.30pm, the Bluecoat, tickets £3/2

Forward Prize nominee Eleanor Rees presents her 2007 collection, Andraste’s Hair: poems of myth, memory, folksong and murder ballad. Jo Colley‘s new collection, Weeping for the Lovely Phantoms, has received widespread critical acclaim with its “distorted landscapes infested with the manifold ghosts of the unresolved and unrequited”. Jo and Elly will be joined by another exciting Salt poet, plus live music from one of Heart Beats’ favourite rock bands.

Fiction reading by Maria McCann and Michael Symmons Roberts – Powerful Prose, Thursday 17th April, 7.30pm – 9pm, the Bluecoat, tickets £7/5

Liverpool born Maria McCann‘s first novel, As Meat Loves Salt, was an Economist ‘Book of the Year’ and featured in September 2007 as one of the Observer‘s ‘Fifty Most Underrated Novels.’ Set in the 17th century, the novel examines the workings of power and explores what happens when someone obsessed by rage and guilt becomes enthralled by idealism.

Michael Symmons Roberts will read from his new novel, Breath, a moving examination of a country recovering from a brutal and divisive civil war. A poet and novelist, his fourth book of poetry, Corpus, was the winner of the 2004 Whitbread Poetry Award.

Orange Broadband Readers’ Day – Saturday 19th April, the Bluecoat, 1pm – 5.30pm, tickets £10/8

Meet some of the UK’s most interesting female cultural and literary figures, take part in exciting book discussions and attend inspiring workshops. Kate Mosse, bestselling author and Honorary Director of the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction joins Clare Allan, Shami Chakrabarti, Philippa Gregory, Bel Mooney and Lionel Shriver for an afternoon of readings and discussions. Beginning with refreshments at 1pm, the audience will have the opportunity to attend events with all five guests and Kate Mosse. This is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with some of the UK’s most interesting cultural and literary female figures and to be privy to the next generation as judges Clare Allan and Shami Chakrabarti will discuss the shortlist of the Orange Award for New Writers 2008.

Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction Readers’ Day is brought to Liverpool to celebrate Capital of Culture 08 by Orange, The Reading Agency, Liverpool Libraries and Time to Read, The Reader Organisation and the Bluecoat.

The Film of the Book and the Book of the Film: Fight Club – Thursday 24th April, 6.30pm, café at FACT, free

Chuck Palahniuk’s novel Fight Club and David Fincher’s film of the same name have become cult classics since their release in the late 90s. The story is narrated by a nameless protagonist (Edward Norton) and with his growing discomfort with consumerism and the emasculating effects of American culture. After a chance meeting with Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), he creates an underground fighting club as a radical form of psychotherapy. Read, watch, or do both and come to our meeting to marvel at a pop culture phenomenon. Organised by The Reader Organisation

Costa Liverpool Poetry Café – Thursday 24th April, 7.30-9.30, Costa, Bold Street, free

Jean Sprackland (Costa Poetry Award winner 2007) and Headland Press poets: Ade Jackson, Janette Stowell, Sarah Maclennan, Dave Ward.

… and slightly further afield

Wirral BookFest, Monday 7th – Sat 12th April, various venues across Wirral

This new festival, organised by Wirral libraries, promises something for everyone, from graphic novels workshop for youngsters to a murder mystery evening in Wirral’s spookiest library! Big name guests include popular children’s author Brian Jacques, acclaimed poet John Siddique and a special ‘Meet the Authors’ session with a trio of best-selling novelists: JoJo Moyes, Mike Gayle and Jenny Colgan.

The Other Room – Wednesday 9th April, 7pm, Old Abbey Inn, Pencroft Way, Manchester, free

A new evening of innovative/experimental poetry in Manchester, in association with Openned, the highly successful London reading series. The first evening features readings by Alan Halsey, Tom Jenks and Geraldine Monk. Subsequent events will take place on the first Wednesday of every second month.

The Northern Poetry Slam – Thursday 17th April, 9pm, The Northern Pub, Tibb Street, Manchester, free

The first in a regular new series of poetry slams at The Northern is hosted by the effervescent comedian John Cooper and features a special guest appearance from Max Seymour, winner of last year’s Manchester Literature Festival Comedy Slam. Come and discover the city’s rising stars of poetry and comedy and help crown a champion.

So Spirited A Town–Nicholas Murray Interview

Over at The Book Depository Mark Thwaite has been interviewing Nicholas Murray about his next book, So Spirited A Town: Visions and Versions of Liverpool. In the Capital of Culture year there are going to be a lot of new books about Liverpool (I’m guilty as charged) the best of which will avoid what Murray calls ‘Merseycliche’ and give real insight into this rather wonderful city:

Mark Thwaite: What gave you the idea for So Spirited A Town?

Nicholas Murray: It was a combination of wanting to write something about my childhood and adolescence in Liverpool and wanting to give some sense of the city in which I grew up from a literary point of view. The book, when it is not about me, is about all the writers who have left their impressions of Liverpool and the number is surprisingly large. Some of the names are unpredictable too: Kazantzakis, Capek, Primo Levi, etc. Obviously the designation as Capital of Culture helped to galvanise things. It was a fairly obvious kind of opportunism. The idea had been gestating for a long time but now seemed like a good time to secure a publisher’s interest. I also thought that the eyes of the world would be on Liverpool and people might be searching for something a bit different from the usual Merseycliche. I must also say that I had reviewed several years ago in the TLS Gladys Mary Coles’ anthology of Liverpool writing, Both Sides of the River. Although she wasn’t interested in a lot of the writers I discuss it was an excellent anthology and really gave me the idea of exploring further.


Nicholas wrote about So Spirited A Town for The Reader Online back in October 2007. Here’s the link to the interview with Mark Thwaite again.

Posted by Chris Routledge. Powered by Qumana