Literature Events in Manchester and the North

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor

There are online readings and live launches as Manchester and the North welcomes some great writers – and we’re building up to book festival season, so let’s get planning…

The Portico Library’s Rewriting the North series returns in September, with Catherine Simpson and Adam Farrer talking memoir while Central Library is the place to head for some Northern noir courtesy the monthly Crime Central hosted by Rob Parker. Meanwhile, it’s all Victorian era greetings cards over at the new Manchester Poetry Library, with the free Forget Me Not exhibition… Up the Oxford Road Corridor at Blackwell’s Bookshop, there’s loads going on, including the rescheduled Life, Love and Identity showcase featuring Laura Kay, Lily Lindon and Bethany Rutter as well as Adam Farrer (him again!) launching his new creative nonfiction book, Cold Fish Soup, and chatting to Jenn Ashworth. Carry along to the Whitworth and, on 25 August, the Grand Hall plays host to an evening with novelists Torrey Peters (Detransition, Baby) and Imogen Binnie (Nevada), brought to you in conjunction with Manchester’s independent gay bookshop Queer Lit.

In Liverpool, various nights like A Lovely Word, Give Poetry A Chance, Liver Bards and the popular Spoken Word night hosted by Saint Vespaluus at the Mansion House are back in real life, while Blast! gets a new venue – head to The Old Bank Alehouse on Aigburth Road on 18 August – and The Reader’s weekly Poetry Walks also continue in south Liverpool’s Calderstones Park; find out more here.

Over in Leeds, Tubthumping – hosted by Matt Abbott and Maria Ferguson – takes place regularly at The Constitutional in Farsley. Also in Farsley, head to Truman Books for various events, while Leeds has a brand-new night, with the second taking place on 30 September – Chemistry, hosted by Leeds poet Joe Williams – as well as Leeds Poetry Festival. In Sheffield, keep an eye out for newish night Nine Lives Poetry, whose recent guests have included Forward Prizes-shortlisted Helen Mort, Kate Millington and Toria Garbutt. In Hebden Bridge, meanwhile, get ready for this October’s inaugural Sylvia Plath Literary Festival, and in Huddersfield, there’s a new poetry night called Ink Spill at The Grove on 12 August.

West of the Pennines, we have a new night in town – or just out of town: Sour Theatre Collective’s Blah Blah Blah poetry night takes place at Café Blah in Withington, and the next is at 7pm on 12 August. Saboteur Awards Best Regular Spoken Word Night Verbose continues to fill out the King’s Arms in Salford every last Monday of the month, and there’s a special pop-up at Ducie Warehouse due to be rescheduled soon. Word Central takes over Manchester Central Library’s events space monthly (next is 30 August and features Dave Viney) and don’t forget Speak Easy’s bumper open mic is at Dulcimer in Chorlton every first Thursday of the month. At Chorlton Library, the Manchester Poets line-up welcomes Carcanet-published Liverpool-based Helen Tookey on 19 August, then The Poetry Business’s Peter Sansom coincides with Chorlton Book Festival in September. More on that soon.

Online, Manchester-based publisher Carcanet welcomes Jee Leong Koh on 10 August and beams in Jay Gao on 24 August, launching his much-anticipated debut collection with a chat to Will Harris. (Both poets are also IRL at a special summer reading event presented by Carcanet with Peter Barlow’s Cigarette on 21 August.) Also online, Manchester-based writer Tania Hershman launches her latest book – this one a poetry collection, Still Life With Octopus, out with Nine Arches Press – on 17 August. And don’t forget to check out the Women Talking Place Symposium – held in conjunction with the Centre for Place Writing at Man Met, it’s online 2 September and in real life the following weekend.

Shopping wise, check out our updated Bookshops in Manchester Guide and don’t forget you need to book in advance for the monthly Elizabeth Gaskell’s House book sale. Manchester Poetry Library, Chetham’s Library, the Portico Library and the Pankhurst Centre are all welcoming visitors, so pop them on your list too. 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. Laura Kay, Lily Lindon and Bethany Rutter at Blackwell’s

    Author Bethany Rutter.
    Author Bethany Rutter.

    Laura Kay, Lily Lindon and Bethany Rutter discuss Life, Love and Identity. at Blackwell’s Manchester, Manchester and online, 11 August 2022, from £3.00 - Book now

    Rescheduled from June, this event on 11 August might be the one you need if you’re looking for some holiday reading, , as Laura Kay, Lily Lindon and Bethany Rutter pop into the Blackwell’s shop to discuss life, love and identity, and their latest books – described as “three brilliant new laugh-out-loud romantic comedies”.

  • 2. Peter Barlow’s Cigarette & Carcanet present… at The Pen & Pencil

    Poet Jee Leong Koh
    Poet Jee Leong Koh.

    Peter Barlow's Cigarette & Carcanet present ~ Jay Gao & Jee Leong Koh at The Pen and Pencil, Manchester and online, 21 August 2022, free entry - Find Out More

    Two of our favourite Manchester institutions – Peter Barlow’s Cigarette and Carcanet Press – are teaming up on 21 August to present an afternoon of alternative poetries with a summer special in the Northern Quarter welcoming two Carcanet poets Jay Gao and Jee Leong Koh, among others to be announced.

  • 3. Carcanet online book launch: Imperium by Jay Gao

    Poet Jay Gao, courtesy Tin House.
    Poet Jay Gao, courtesy Tin House.

    Imperium by Jay Gao: Carcanet Book Launch, online, 24 August 2022, from £2.00 - Book now

    Launching his first collection, Imperium, out now with Manchester’s Carcanet Press, poet Jay Gao will be chatting to Forward Prize-winning Will Harris. The online event on 24 August will feature readings of the text and discussion about it, as well as a Q&A.

  • 4. Torrey Peters and Imogen Binnie at the Whitworth

    Author Torrey Peters.
    Author Torrey Peters.

    An evening with Torrey Peters & Imogen Binnie -Hosted by Queer Lit at The Whitworth, Manchester, 25 August 2022, from £8.00 - Book now

    Manchester’s independent gay bookshop Queer Lit has teamed up with The Whitworth to bring you an evening, on 25 August, with novelists Torrey Peters and Imogen Binnie, of Detransition, Baby and Nevada, respectively.

  • 5. Crime Central at Central Library

    Author Adam Simcox
    Author Adam Simcox.

    Crime Central at Manchester Central Library, Manchester, 1 September 2022, from £0.00 - Book now

    Following a summer hiatus, fear not, murder and mayhem returns to Central Library, as Manchester Libraries’ Crime Central is back on 1 September to shine a spotlight on the best and brightest crime writing talent both locally and from around the country.

  • 6. Adam Farrer in conversation with Jenn Ashworth at Blackwell’s

    Author Adam Farrer. Photo by Simon Buckley
    Author Adam Farrer. Photo by Simon Buckley.

    COLD FISH SOUP - Adam Farrer in conversation with Jenn Ashworth at Blackwell’s Manchester, Manchester, 8 September 2022, from £3.00 - Book now

    Like place-writing, then this could be one for you, as Manchester-based writer and The Real Story co-organiser Adam Farrer launches his debut book Cold Fish Soup, winner of the 2021 NorthBound Book Award, at a reading and in conversation event with Portico Prize-shortlisted author and memoirist Jenn Ashworth on 8 September.

  • 7. Forget Me Not exhibition at Manchester Poetry Library

    Manchester Poetry Library blue
    Manchester Poetry Library

    Forget Me Not: Poetry and pictures in Victorian and Edwardian greetings cards at Manchester Poetry Library, Manchester, Until 17 September 2022, free entry - Visit now

    On daily except Sundays and Bank Holidays until 17 September, Forget Me Not is a free exhibition exploring the relationship between poetry and pictures in Victorian and Edwardian greetings cards, providing a snapshot of the Laura Seddon Collection, brimming with over 32,500 examples.

  • 8. Tubthumping at The Constitutional

    Poet and performer Sophie Sparham.
    Poet and performer Sophie Sparham.

    Tubthumping at The Constitutional, 29 September 2022, from £10.00 - Book now

    A rip-roaring evening featuring some of the UK’s most dynamic spoken word poets: Nymphs & Thugs present Tubthumping at The Constitutional – back after a summer break on 29 September, the new term kicks off with Kevin P Gilday and Sophie Sparham.

  • 9. Chemistry at Chemic Tavern

    Poet Clare Shaw

    Chemistry 1: Clare Shaw & Rachel Bower at The Chemic Tavern, Leeds, 30 September 2022, free entry - Find Out More

    Leeds’ newest live literature night Chemistry promises an exciting mixture of headline guests and open mic acts, all introduced by Leeds-based poet Joe Williams. For the second event, the headliners are Jenny Robb and Jimmy Andrex – head to the Chemic Tavern on 30 September for Chemistry 2 (He for Helium).

  • 10. 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.

  • 11. Forward Prizes at Contact and online

    Helen Mort. Photo by Jonathan Pow
    Helen Mort. Photo by Jonathan Pow.

    Forward Prizes at Contact Theatre, Manchester, 28 November 2022, from £15.00 - Book now

    It’s the 30th anniversary of the Forward Prizes for Poetry, the most influential awards for new poetry in the UK and Ireland, honouring fresh voices alongside internationally established names – and this year the glittering awards ceremony will take place right here in Manchester, on 28 November.

More in Literature

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 every second Sunday of the month throughout 2022.

Literature 10 August 2022 7:00 pm, from £2.00

Carcanet online book launch: Inspector Inspector by Jee Leong Koh

Join Carcanet Press online to celebrate the launch of Inspector Inspector by Jee Leong Koh, hosted by poet and lawyer Jerrold Yam. 

Festivals 22–25 September 2022, from £15

Leeds International Festival of Ideas 2022

Leeds International Festival, the UK’s leading metropolitan festival of new ideas and innovation, is back in 2022, with a focus on tackling some of the most crucial questions of our time.

Culture Guides


Shakespeare North Playhouse’s spectacular opening season and extraordinary outdoor performance, free and ticketed, feature in our top picks.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester and the north.

Food and Drink

Explore the best restaurants and bars in Manchester and the North this August.


Modern classics, New German Cinema and Hollywood hits all find a place in our latest guide to Cinema in Manchester and the North.


From immersive playgrounds and mythological journeys to tackling injustice, this month is filled with fresh art to see all around the North.

Power UP at the Science and Industry Museum


As summer in Manchester turns out to be a scorcher, here are our hottest picks of some of the best outdoor and indoor family-friendly events and activities happening in Manchester and the North during the summer holidays and the coming months, featuring festivals, performances, gaming fun, garden visits and so much more.


We head into August with a whole lot of musical goodness to look forward to, from massive indie gigs to inner city electronic festivals.

Tours and Activities

Break out of the old summer routines and try something different with roller skating, kite flying and more in this month’s Tours and Activities guide.