There are plenty of writerly launches, open mics, literature festivals, pre-Christmas book fairs and festive readings to pop into your diary, some online, some in person – and some both.
Manchester indie Carcanet Press are continuing to run their book launches by the magic of Zoom (we’re looking forward to hearing from Vahni Capildeo‘s new Poetry Book Society Winter Choice collection Like a Tree, Walking on 1 December), while Comma Press sees Sarah Schofield continue to tour her new collection, Safely Gathered In, and she joins the line-up for Ghosts At The Talleyrand on 18 December.
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. Bagsy your places now or how about bagsying places for someone else for Christmas…
For a showcase of independent presses of the region – and a great opportunity to pick up Christmas presents in the shape of books – head to Central Library on 27 November (tickets are free, but do bagsy a time slot in advance) for the Northern Publishers’ Fair. There will be readings from the likes of Gerry Potter and David Gaffney, whose latest novel, Out Of The Dark, is published by Manchester-based Confingo in the new year. On 10 December, meanwhile, NPF organisers Fly On The Wall Press are hosting the final launch of the 2021 Shorts Season with an online event to welcome into the world Clare Reddaway’s The Guts Of A Mackerel.
Back in real life in Manchester, and Speak Easy returns to Dulcimer in Chorlton on 2 December, while new “variety performance” showcase Talley-Ho takes the reins at The Talleyrand in Levenshulme the same night. Word Central welcoms Ben Willems as special guest on 14 December, beat poetry night Beatification rocks up at Fuel café on 15 December and Verbose will return to the King’s Arms after its 29 November outing with Flo Cornall and Ruth Awolola, with a Christmas special on 13 December, featuring Dave Haslam. In the new year, the avant-garde Peter Barlow’s Cigarette will be making a comeback (more soon on that). In Wigan, the Open Mic Poetry (the longest-running open mic poetry night in Wigan, in fact) returns to The Old Courts on 9 December, hot on the heels of its online version on 25 November, while in Liverpool A Lovely Word rocks up at the Bistro at the Everyman on Hope Street on 2 December, hosted by Alex Ferguson and Mary Olive, and featuring poet Amerah Saleh.
Also in Liverpool, The Reader’s Spoken Word evenings are back at the Mansion House, with a programme running into the new year. There’s also the Shared Reading groups and weekly Poetry Walks in Calderstones Park, plus a new interactive map to follow either the Literature Trail or the Heritage Trail (or indeed both!), so if you like your literature served with a side order of inspiring surroundings, 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 26 November and 28 January next year.
On the festival front, Manchester Literature Festival returns from its in real life sellouts with events online – MLF Digital runs from 1 to 30 November, with Novel Voices as well as Postcards From Oxford Road worth checking out. Also on Oxford Road, Anthony Joseph introduces poetry on vinyl, alongside music, and Jenny Mitchell reads her award-winning poems at the newly opened Manchester Poetry Library.
The Elizabeth Gaskell’s House book sale is running monthly, so get your place booked as soon as possible – and don’t forget to check out our Guide To Bookshops In Manchester. Guided tours are back at Chetham’s Library, the Portico is the place to go to see the Refloresta! exhibition by world-renowned Brazilian artist Maria Nepomuceno (on until 22 November), and the Pankhurst Centre has reopened. And don’t forget to scroll down for more events and activities, or see our literary guides to Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Cumbria if you’re venturing further afield.
Here are our picks
The Reader’s Spoken Word evenings at the Mansion House in south Liverpool’s Calderstones Park are back inside, with a packed line-up running into the New Year, including acclaimed performer Toria Garbutt in November and David Gaffney in the spring.
Novel Voices: Femi Kayode in Conversation with Ellah P. Wakatama (ONLINE), 6 December 2021, from £3.00 - Book now
Novel Voices, the online series featuring Ellah P Wakatama in conversation with debut authors helping to shape the literary landscape today, comes to a close on 6 December as she welcomes her seventh guest of the 2021 season, award-winning novelist and screenwriter Femi Kayode.
Award-winning poet Jenny Mitchell heads to Manchester Poetry Library in real life on 16 December to read her work and discuss her series of poems re-telling the story of Jane Eyre from the perspective of a free woman of colour in the 19th century.
The Talleyrand in Levenshulme presents a one-off festive reading on 18 December, featuring ghost stories for Christmas performed in near-total darkness by some of the North West’s best authors, Andrew Michael Hurley, Nicholas Royle, Sarah Schofield, Melissa Wan and Richard V Hirst, who is curating the evening.
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, complete with plenty of memorable, magical verse and lots and lots of laughs from the CBeebies Rhyme Rocket poet.
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 and award-winning garden is a must-see, with the famous book sale back on 18 April and scheduled thereafter for 9 May, 13 June, 11 July, 8 August, 12 September, 10 October, 14 November and 12 December 2021, 11am-4pm.
Every second Saturday of the month, Leeds Record & Book Fair is indoors at Kirkgate Market, one of Europe’s largest indoor markets. Next dates are 14 August, 11 September, 9 October, 13 November and 11 December.
Live theatre returns to The Edge this September and the opening season promises to be one to remember when its doors open for the first time in 18 months, and to a completely refurbished building.
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.
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.