Time To Read’s New Words Festival

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Author Naomi Booth.

1 — 24 March 2021 Entrance is free — Visit now

Teaming up with five indie publishers, Time To Read’s first-ever New Words Festival runs (almost) throughout the month from 1 March. The virtual book festival brings together six events and readings with award-winning authors and poets, four poetry and fiction workshops, and a special Brontë panel discussion with experts Adelle Hay and Sophie Franklin, The Brontës: Reimagined; Reappraised; Revisited. All events are online and tickets are free.

We’re excited to hear from Naomi Booth, author of Guardian Best Fiction Book of 2020 Exit Management and 2017’s Sealed (both Dead Ink).

You can sign up for one of four creative writing workshops, led by short story writers K Blundell Trust award-winning SJ Bradley (Friday 5 March, 4pm) and Edge Hill University’s Sarah Schofield (Monday 1 March and Thursday 4 March, times tbc), both published by Comma Press, and poet Dr James Davies (Saturday 13 March, 2pm), published by Knives Forks and Spoons, and co-creator of The Other Room reading series in Manchester and editor of the experimental poetry press if p then q. (Edit: the workshops are “sold out”; add your name to the waiting list for these.)

Sticking with poetry, and the line-up includes Nottingham-based Leafe Press publisher and editor Alan Baker, reading from his KFS Press collection Riverrun and answering questions on creative writing (Tuesday 9 March, 7pm), and, a week later, award-winning Carcanet poet Rebecca Goss reading from her third collection, Girl, and chatting about a poet’s life in lockdown (Tuesday 16 March, 7pm).

Coinciding with International Women’s Day (Monday 8 March, 7pm), Irish poet, novelist and teacher Martina Evans will be reading from her Carcanet collection Now We Can Talk Openly About Men (which featured in the Times Literary Supplement, Observer and Irish Times Books of the Year) and talking about it with publisher Michael Schmidt, answering questions from the audience via the chat feature.

On the prose front, JA Mensah launches her brand-new debut novel Castles From Cobwebs on Friday 26 March, and fellow Saraband author Donald S Murray marks the publication day of his second novel In A Veil Of Mist by reading live from Shetland and joining in conversation with Lancashire Libraries’ Robin Crawshaw (Thursday 11 March, 6.30pm).

We’re excited to hear from Naomi Booth, author of Guardian Best Fiction Book of 2020 Exit Management and 2017’s Sealed (both Dead Ink) plus 2015 debut The Lost Art Of Sinking (Penned In The Margins). Recently named one of the Guardian’s Fresh Voices: Fifty Writers to Read Now, she’s in conversation with Jools from Blackpool Libraries on Wednesday 24 March (2pm). Her fiction tends to explore unsettling landscapes, strange compulsions, dangerous bodies and contamination, and Exit Management is described as “a ground-breaking dissection of class, xenophobia and compassion”, while Sealed is “a terrifying portrait of ordinary people under threat from their own bodies and from the world around them, with elements of speculative fiction and the macabre”.

Time to Read, run by the North West England’s library staff since 2002, is a reader development initiative to encourage new readers to use public libraries, and twenty-two of the region’s library services are working together to host and promote the Arts Council-funded New Words Festival, originally planned to take place across the North West libraries network. The New Words Festival aims to strengthen ties between libraries and independent publishers and a new collection of the ten books featured will be available to reserve in your local libraries. You can also buy direct from the five partner publishers: Manchester’s Carcanet and Comma, Salford’s Saraband, Liverpool’s Dead Ink and Newton Le Willow’s Knives Forks and Spoons.

1 — 24 March 2021 Entrance is free Visit now

Where to go near Time To Read’s New Words Festival

Waterstones Leeds

Standing proudly on the busy shopping hub of Albion Street, Waterstones Leeds is a bookshop that also hosts a variety of events

Manchester Factory international Festival - People enjoying Festival Square in the city centre
Café or Coffee Shop
Factory Square

Factory Square is a huge beer garden, on the banks of the River Irwell, with top-quality drinks and street food selections.


Modern Greek Mediterranean cuisine from the team behind Tattu.

Flat Iron Leeds
Flat Iron Leeds

Relaxed restaurant in Leeds serving impressively high-quality steaks at an affordable price point.


Odioba is a new audiophile bar in Stockport, from the team behind the much-missed NAM. Coffee shop by day, bar by night.

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