Literature Events in Manchester and the North

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor

As we dive headlong into our reading and writing events for 2022, there’s plenty lined up – some online, some in person and some incorporating a bit of both.

In response to the ongoing pandemic, please note that mask-wearing and lateral flow tests may be required at events in real life, and be sure to check the social media accounts of organisers and venues before travelling in case of cancellations.

Speak Easy has returned to Dulcimer in Chorlton (every first Thursday of the month) and Peter Barlow’s Cigarette has found a new home in Ditto Coffee on Albert Square. We’re hoping to see Beatification return to Fuel in Withington after its December cancellation and new “variety performance” showcase Talley-Ho should be picking up the reins again soon at The Talleyrand in Levenshulme; Word Central has 25 January chalked up for Ben Willems’s rescheduled appearance, then 22 February. Verbose is back at the King’s Arms on 31 January, featuring headliners David Gaffney and Scraps author Carla Mellor alongside the open mic talent; David Gaffney then officially launches his brand-new novel on 17 February at Central Library, with Melissa Wan also reading.

Beth Underdown launches her new historical gothic novel The Key In The Lock – already receiving rave reviews – at Blackwell’s bookshop on 13 January, when she’ll be reading from the book and chatting about it with fellow writer Kate Feld. Just up the road, the first event of the year for Manchester Poetry Library is on 27 January and the launch of Why I Write Poetry: Essays on Becoming a Poet, Keeping Going and Advice for the Writing Life, featuring editor Ian Humphreys and contributors Jane Commane of Nine Arches Press, poet and disability rights activist Daniel Sluman, Rachel Mann, an Anglican Priest, poet, writer and broadcaster, and Manchester Writing School’s Jean Sprackland. Please note: this event is online.

Online, and Elizabeth Gaskell’s House are running a series of talks as part of their North And South season for 2022, celebrating the classic novel set (albeit anonymously) in Manchester, the Portico Prize sees readings of the shortlisted tomes taking place on Zoom on 19 January followed by a virtual prize-giving ceremony the next evening, and Carcanet kick off the year with the small-screen launch of Padraig Regan‘s much anticipated debut collection, Some Integrity. Meanwhile, Book Jive Live, the quarterly virtual spoken word event dedicated to children’s and YA literature welcomes BAFTA-winning Ciaran Murtagh as its first guest in 2022.

The return of poetry shows brings Dommy B to Waterside in Sale (for the little’uns) and Rose Condo to the Old Courts in Wigan, while the official UNESCO day of recognition for International Mother Language Day is 21 February, with happenings around the Greater Manchester region chalked up for 19, 20 and 21 February, including the launch of a brand-new City Poet programme.

Over in Liverpool, Give Poetry A Chance makes its twentieth appearance on 26 January and A Lovely Word on 3 February, with Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, and 3 March, with Gerry Potter. The Reader’s Spoken Word evenings are back at the Mansion House, with singer-songwriter Nick Ellis taking to the stage alongside the readers on 20 January, and on 17 February it’s Chris Jones and more. Online, Poet Laureate Simon Armitage joins the Shared Reading group on 27 January, while outdoors sees the weekly Poetry Walks continue, with an interactive Literature Trail in Calderstones Park to put a spring in your step; find out more here.

Over Leeds way, keep an eye out for Tales of Whatever (formerly of this manor), who have dates chalked up for 28 January.

If one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to put pen to paper more yourself, then Comma are running a short-story course with Manchester author Karline Smith guiding you through her top tips, while Creative Industries Trafford rekindle the CIT Writers’ Group in the new year, with poet Jazmine Linklater offering assistance, however you fancy getting your words on the page. There are also courses with Write Like a Grrrl and Young Identity, and Poetry For Beginners sessions in Leeds.

Shopping wise, our Bookshops in Manchester Guide is freshly updated and dates for the monthly Elizabeth Gaskell’s House book sale have been announced for the next year, so get your place booked as soon as possible. Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out Chetham’s Library, the Portico Library and the Pankhurst Centre. Scroll down for more events and activities, or see our literary guides to LiverpoolLeeds, Sheffield and Cumbria if you’re venturing further afield.

Here are our picks

  • 1. Dommy B’s Best Adventure Ever! at Waterside

    Poet and performer Dommy B.

    Dommy B's Best Adventure Ever at Waterside Arts, Manchester, 5 February 2022, from £7.50 - Book now

    From the illustrated book for young readers of the same name, out with Salford-based Flapjack Press, the story of Dommy B’s Best Adventure Ever! hits the stage on 5 February, complete with plenty of memorable, magical verse and lots and lots of laughs from the CBeebies Rhyme Rocket poet.

  • 2. Poets & Players at the Whitworth

    Poet Anthony Anaxagorou. Photo by Alessandro Furchino Capria

    Poets & Players at The Whitworth, Manchester, 12 February 2022, free entry - Find Out More

    We are so happy to be welcoming back Poets & Players to the Whitworth Art Gallery after such a long absence, with a poetry and music line-up well worth the wait. The first event for two years features the poets Julia Copus, Anthony Anaxagorou and Rob Miles, and takes place on Saturday 12 February.

  • 3. David Gaffney Out Of The Dark book launch at Central Library

    Author David Gaffney.

    David Gaffney Out Of The Dark book launch at Manchester Central Library, Manchester, 17 February 2022, free entry - Find Out More

    David Gaffney officially launches his third novel, Out Of The Dark, published by Manchester’s independent press Confingo, with a reading, chat and guest appearance by short story writer Melissa Wan, on Thursday 17 February at Central Library.

  • 4. Spoken Word at the Mansion House

    Toria Garbutt
    Poet Toria Garbutt. Photo by Emma Aylett.

    Spoken Word at the Mansion House at The Mansion House Calderstones Park, Calderstones Park, Until 17 February 2022, from £10 - Book now

    The Reader’s Spoken Word evenings at the Mansion House in south Liverpool’s Calderstones Park are back inside, with a packed autumn/winter line-up running into the New Year, including acclaimed performer Toria Garbutt. The next date is 17 February.

  • 5. Book Jive Live online with Ciaran Murtagh

    Ciaran Murtagh
    Children's author Ciaran Murtagh.

    Book Jive Live, online, 18 February 2022, from £5.50 - Book now

    The quarterly virtual spoken word event dedicated to children’s and YA literature welcomes BAFTA-winning Ciaran Murtagh as its first guest in 2022, alongside open mic performers, on 18 February.

  • 6. International Mother Language Day 2022

    Poet Lemn Sissay.
    Poet Lemn Sissay.

    International Mother Language Day, online, 19–21 February 2022, free entry - Find Out More

    Manchester City of Literature marks this year’s International Mother Language Day through a number of exciting events taking place in real life and online 19 to 21 February.

  • 7. Manchester Literature Festival 2022

    Poet Zaffar Kunial.
    Poet Zaffar Kunial

    Manchester Literature Festival at Manchester Central Library, Manchester, 7–23 October 2022, from £5 - Book now

    Save the date! Manchester Literature Festival takes place 7 to 23 October 2022, showcasing a range of poetry, prose and more from both household names as well as up-and-coming talent.

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Literature Until 5 February 2025, FREE

The Little Library in Spinningfields

Take your pick from The Little Library’s carefully curated collection of classics and new releases, adding a recently read book of your own as a replacement.

Elizabeth Gaskell's House garden. Photo by Chris Tucker
Literature Until 11 December 2022, from £4.50

Book sale at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House and award-winning garden is a must-see, with the famous book sale back on 12 December 2021, 11am-4pm, and thereafter every second Sunday of the month throughout 2022.

Exhibitions Until 21 March 2022, FREE

Sit Down & Get Out! at the Portico Library

This free exhibition delves into the “polite literature” slogan that greets visitors to the Portico Library, bringing together contemporary artworks and research with 18th-century prints by satirist William Hogarth and books from the Library’s historic collection.

Literature Until 11 May 2022, from £100.00

Comma Press Short Story Course with Karline Smith at Hope Mill

Organised by Comma Press, one of the UK’s leading publishers of short fiction, this course of six workshops, led by Manchester author Karline Smith, will help you get a handle on short story writing.

Literature Until 20 July 2022, FREE

The Reader in Withington Library

The Reader are running a new Shared Reading Group for adults in Withington Library, fortnightly on a Wednesday evening.

Literature Until 23 March 2022, from £5.00

Poetry For Beginners online

If you’re new to writing poems, or would like to give a new direction a go, this online class offers an engaging and inspiring journey through the delights of poetry.

Jazmine Linklater
Literature Until 21 March 2022, from £5.00

CIT Writers’ Group at Waterside

Led by poet Jazmine Linklater as part of Creative Industries Trafford’s ongoing artist development activity, these creative writing workshops are open to all and will be taking place in person at Waterside Arts in Sale.

Activity 10 February–17 March 2022, from £99.99

Write Like A Grrrl: Ignite at Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre

Write Like a Grrrl is a short, affordable and intensive writing course for gender minorities of all abilities and interests.

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