We can almost feel summer in the air, and summer wouldn’t be summer without a festival or two. To start with, there’s the first-ever Altrincham Word Fest, kicking off with a workshop by Kate Feld of The Real Story and running for just over a fortnight until Sunday 27 May and a workshop by flash fiction expert David Gaffney (who also crops up in our new guide to Literary Places in Cumbria here). Aiming to get you writing and not just reading, there will be performance, publishing talks and plenty of workshops – from flash fiction and poetry to blogging and scripts. From Thursday 17 to Sunday 20 May, the Not Quite Light Weekend is back, and this year includes literature event In The Half-light: the premiere of some specially commissioned stories from five award-winning women writers, including Burgess Fellow Joanna Walsh, carefully curated by connoisseurs of fine creative non-fiction The Real Story.
The Rainy City is also brought into focus as Neil Campbell launches the second novel in his ‘Manchester Trilogy’, following up Sky Hooks with Zero Hours, musing on McJobs and the changing skyline. Meanwhile, ten years on from going In Search Of the North in Pies & Prejudice, Stuart Maconie went on The Long Road From Jarrow, and will be telling more about how he followed in the footsteps of the famous protestors last year at a special event at Waterside.
Off down the busiest bus route in Europe, Man Met’s Manchester Writing School is having a special International Literature Week, when it hosts the poet Hera Lindsay Bird, over from New Zealand and one of Carol Ann Duffy’s Laureate’s Choices. She’ll also be reading from her new pamphlet Pamper Me To Hell & Back at the fourth outing of the Murmur reading series – another addition to the city’s burgeoning experimental poetry scene (No Matter joins us in June – more on that later this month).
The University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing’s Jeanette Winterson has been chatting to various guests, including former guitarist of The Slits and star of (for example) Joanna Hogg-directed artsy movie Exhibition Viv Albertine about her latest memoir To Throw Away Unopened, launched as part of Manchester Literature Festival’s special Spring Programme, while tickets are now on sale to see best-selling author Kate Atkinson at MLF when it’s back in full in October.
And don’t forget to scroll down to our More in Literature stories, where we’ve been bringing you news of a debut pamphlet from poet Amy Kinsman which launched at Kraak Gallery in Manchester and the Gardener’s Rest in Sheffield (and check out our brand-new guide to Literary Places in Sheffield here) and WoWFest 18 in Liverpool (ooh, there’s a new guide to Liverpool here). Regularly updated, keep watching this space for all the gen on the likes of Poets & Players at the Whitworth, Bad Language at Gullivers and BL co-host Fat Roland’s new one-man spoken word show at The Lowry, and Zarf at Wharf Chambers over the hills in Leeds.
Here are our picks
A twist on the usual literature festival, Altrincham Word Fest aims to kindle your own creativity by inviting some of the North West’s most talented writers to share their secrets to success in a series of hands-on workshops and events.
Writers at Manchester Met: Hera Lindsay Bird, 21 May 2018, free entry - Find Out More
Critically-acclaimed Carol Ann Duffy favourite Hera Lindsay Bird is over from New Zealand to launch new Laureate’s Choice pamphlet Pamper Me To Hell & Back. Catch her at Murmur #4 or at the Manchester Writing School International Literature Week.
The broadcaster and writer walked the route of the famous Jarrow March to find similarities with Brexit Britain and material for his latest tome and the show that accompanies it.
Join the multi-award-winning author behind the Case Histories crime series as she chats to Guardian critic Alex Clark about her tenth novel, Transcriptions, out in September on Transworld. Part of Manchester Literature Festival 2018.
Inspired by Conrad Gessner’s 16th century encyclopaedia of actual and imaginary animals, Beautiful Monsters at The Portico examines the idea of the monstrous within the context of history, mythology and 21st century life.
The language of the natural world is brought to life in the world premiere of the outdoor theatre companion to the bestselling book The Lost Words.
One of the country’s leading poets, Benjamin Zephaniah visits the RNCM as part of his first tour in eight years, to mark the publication of his autobiography. Expect insightful stories from throughout his remarkable life, as well as a selection of his favourite poetry.
The revolutionary fervour of the May ’68 Paris uprising, the seismic impact of the Dutch Golden Age on western art history, and notions of ‘the monstrous’ in 21st century life are just some of the themes explored within this month’s hand-picked selection of must-see exhibitions from across the north.