Chorlton Arts Festival at various venues

Part of our Literature guide

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Performer Keisha Thompson
Performer Keisha Thompson. Photo by Ape Ninja.

Chorlton Arts Festival at Chorlton Library, Chorlton, Until 29 May 2022, free entry - Visit now

Running 29 April to 29 May, Chorlton Arts Festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a new patron in the form of former Scottish Makar Jackie Kay and a whole host of literary arts. The multi-venue event takes place across Chorlton and features visual art exhibitions and a variety of performances by contributors from the Manchester area. You’ll find spoken word at Dulcimer (1 May Rebel Riots Spoken Word and 5 May Speak Easy) and events for young readers, including an afternoon with children’s author Carrol May Nelson (13 May, 4-6pm, Chorlton Library Community Room).

Running 29 April to 29 May, Chorlton Arts Festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a new patron in the form of former Scottish Makar Jackie Kay and a whole host of literary arts.

On 6 May, Pen:Chant will be hosting a special night of live music, comedy and poetry (St Werburgh’s Church Hall, 7.30-10pm Pay What You Decide), raising money for South Manchester Sanctuary – a community sponsorship group working to support the resettlement of a refugee family in the local area over the next two years. The eclectic and exciting line-up includes singer Kirsty McGee and Tickle Your Fancy hosts Doolally: “four female artists, Doolally write and perform daft songs using observational comedy, close harmonies, ukuleles, guitars and occasionally a piano”. Also on the bill is poet and musician Keisha Thompson, who has supported artists such as Kae Tempest and Hollie McNish, and was recently seen at Manchester Literature Festival’s Flux. The event will be presented by award-winning writer and performer Ben Mellor, former BBC Radio 4 National Poetry Slam Champion and also host of upcoming Pete the Temp x Pen:Chant.

Over at the Chorlton Green side of town, the Bowling Green’s Clubhouse is the venue for a number of live literature events during the festival, kicking off on 5 May (7.30-8.30pm) with David Gaffney & Sarah-Clare Conlon: Land & Sea. David Gaffney’s third novel Out Of The Dark (published this year by Manchester’s Confingo) takes a concrete block of flats overlooking a motorway intersection as the starting point for this puzzle box of stories within stories – in an apartment at the top of a high rise tower, a young man watches the same old film noir over and over, and life and fiction start to blur… In contrast, Sarah-Clare Conlon’s work ebbs and flows with watery themes, from haunted lighthouses viewed from sailing boats to stormy seascapes seen from land. She has two poetry pamphlets and a prose pamphlet out in 2022. David and Sarah-Clare have been performing together for over ten years, with their double act Les Malheureux appearing on BBC Radio 6 Music in 2013. The two writers will read from their latest books, and answer any audience questions, in a relaxing event that promises plenty of atmosphere.

On 12 May (7.30-8pm), poet Tina Tamsho-Thomas will read from her Fly On The Wall Press collection Someone Is Missing Me. BBC Radio 3 The Verb‘s Ian McMillan says: “Tina Tamsho-Thomas is a poet for the page and the stage, her poems work just as well in print as they do in the air… These poems are a two way mirror to uncomfortable truths about society and to the poet telling these truths… well worth reading.” Tina has performed her work alongside other noted writers including Lemn Sissay, Benjamin Zephaniah, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, Linton Kwesi Johnson, John Cooper Clarke, Ntozake Shange and John Hegley. Tina will be followed (8.15-10pm) by We’re Still Here: Conversations with women writers and poets, poetry readings and slam.

After a recent packed book launch for his latest novel, The Former Boy Wonder, Chorlton-based writer Robert Graham will be at the Festival on 26 May (7.30-8.30pm). From the back cover: It’s a rainy August in Manchester and music writer Peter Duffy’s life is falling apart. He’s knocking on fifty, his career is flatlining, his marriage is failing, and his teenage son barely speaks to him. And then a friend from university days invites him to a party at the manor house where he met his first love, the dazzling Sanchia Page. All the old gang are going to be there, and although it’s a long shot, maybe she will, too, which wouldn’t be helpful. Or would it? Following Robert will be local author (Don’t You Want Me?, The General Theory Of Haunting and The Gentle Art Of Forgetting) Richard Easter (9-9.30pm), talking about how to self-publish fiction in his event “How To Write A Number One Book AND Gain Thirteen Twitter Followers”.

Chorlton Arts Festival at Chorlton Library, Chorlton

Until 29 May 2022
Free entry

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