The Mersey Sound anthology launched poets Roger McGough, Brian Patten and Adrian Henri into “considerable acclaim and critical fame” in 1967, and the Liverpool literature scene has been alive and kicking in the shadow of iconic places like the India Buildings (spotted as a backdrop in the BBC adaptation of China Mieville’s The City & The City) ever since. One-fourth of the Northern Fiction Alliance radical publishing collective, Dead Ink Books are in the trendy Baltic Triangle, The Reader organisation recently moved into the refurbished Mansion House in Calderstones Park, while the expensively renovated Central Library is slap-bang in the middle of a World Heritage Site. From mainstream to experimental, you’ll find it here.
Here are our picks
Bluecoat, Bluecoat Chambers, School Lane, Liverpool, L1 3BX - Visit now
The monthly Story Night, “where stories go for a good night out”, includes an open mic and guests, and poetry performances, workshops and discussions pop up with beautiful regularity at the Bluecoat, as do a baby book club, book fairs, the Liverpool Print Fair (with zines a-plenty), and launches, such as the recent evening for The White Review, featuring University of Liverpool Writer in Residence Meena Kandasamy. And right next door is Kernaghan Books, for all your secondhand and antiquarian book needs.
LEAF on Bold Street, 65-67 Bold Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 4EZ - Visit now
Pre Manchester Portland Street, the original LEAF in Liverpool city centre had already established itself as an arts-friendly venue, with regular nights on the mic and its very own book club (plus it’s a great place to pick up flyers for events elsewhere). It’s also now one of the venues on the roster for the annual Liverpool literature festival, WoWFest, curated by Writing on the Wall, Liverpool’s longest running writing and literary organisation.
Liverpool Central Library, William Brown Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L3 8EN - Visit now
Pop along to the refurbished library as much to gape at its features – the colonnaded façade on the World Heritage Site of William Brown Street, the “Literary Pavement” book title entrance, the four-storey-high inspirational quotations wall, and the Grade II-listed Picton, Hornby and Oak Reading Rooms – as to borrow a book. Check out the room dedicated to John James Audubon’s amazing Birds of America, or take a coffee and a tome onto the terrace and gaze over the roses of St John’s Gardens.
Liverpool Everyman Theatre, 5-9 Hope Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 9BH - Visit now
The Everyman has a long literary history and until recently Gramophone Ray Gun, an avant-garde poetry night from Dock Road Press, was using it as a venue. Seemingly that has been unplugged, with A Lovely Word now taking place on the second Monday of every month in the Everyman Bistro. Liverpool’s “most eclectic open mic poetry and spoken word evening” welcomes first timers and non-newbies – sign up for a five-minute slot from 7.30pm.
Waterstone’s Liverpool One, Liverpool One, 12 College Lane, Liverpool, L1 3DL - Visit now
The biggest bookshop in Liverpool holds regular launches with both big and small names, and both on and off site. The monthly Science Fiction & Fantasy book club meets first Monday, while Waterstone’s Book Club (recently discussing Kit de Waal and Eleanor Oliphant) takes place at curry emporium Mowgli on Water Street. The bookstore also decamps to Water Street for special events at “secret space” Oh Me Oh My – including The Girl On The Train author Paula Hawkins’ last book launch.