Books are most definitely back, with a whole host of live events by writers local as well as international, from pop-up performances to regular reading series, plus some hybrid festival specials and online launches allowing access wherever you happen to be.
Manchester Literature Festival presents another spring event in the form of an evening with Douglas Stuart, hosted by Helen Mort at Central Library, and Huddersfield Literature Festival runs into April, with Linton Kwesi Johnson on Saturday 1 April – he pops up again at Litfest in Lancaster, both in person and online, on 20 April.
Blackwell’s bookshop has an increasingly packed programme of in-person events, including, Livi Michael’s launch of her new Salt title Reservoir on 26 April. On 17 April, H Gareth Gavin of the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing is in conversation with Andrew McMillan of Man Met’s Manchester Writing School, then on 14 April, the very same H Gareth Gavin is talking to Jen Calleja about her debut novel Vehicle, out with Prototype (also back at Blackwell’s on 24 April to launch Lori & Joe by Amy Arnold) – read more here. Check out Poets & Players at the Burgess Foundation on 22 April, featuring Katrina Naomi, Nick Makoha and Sammy Weaver as guests, then a week later, head to Peste in Ancoats, for a one-off afternoon of Oulipo-inspired words as our own Lit Ed Sarah-Clare Conlon launches her latest poetry book, bringing Philip Terry to town to read alongside Jazmine Linklater.
Online, and Manchester’s Carcanet Press hosts the launch of Lisa Kelly’s latest collection, The House Of The Interpreter, on 12 April then, on 19 April, Kit Fan’s third collection Ink Cloud Reader. Meanwhile, the Mary Barton season of talks continues to beam out of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House and the Portico Library is running a hybrid season related to walking and the right to roam – you can join their rambler-in-residence Anita Sethi on some wanders to encourage writing, reading and wellbeing.
On to the regulars… purveyor of fine avant-garde poetry Peter Barlow’s Cigarette is celebrating 10 years in 2023 and back at the Carlton Club in May, Speak Easy’s bumper open mic is every first Thursday of the month at Dulcimer in Chorlton, Crooked Poets in Prestwich is now going strong and Punk In Drublic marks its sixth birthday on 27 April, with poets including Lou Machen. Verbose takes place on the fourth Monday of the month in Salford’s King’s Arms theatre space and Salford-based publisher Flapjack’s Word Central can be found in Central Library’s events space (also host to Crime Central), back on 25 April with Louise Fazackerley headlining. They also host the launch of Gerry Potter’s latest tome of pomes, on 18 April.
The University of Bolton’s Creative Writing department has a new spring programme worth a look-see, welcoming Helen Mort on 18 April, while Natter Bolton, hosted by Romina Ramos and Stuart Beveridge, has just celebrated its first birthday. Also be sure to keep those peepers peeled for incoming events from The Door’s Open, a new Bolton-based project courtesy Natter’s Romina and Will Stevenson of the Northern Quarter’s Switchblade Society.
In Bradford City of Culture 2025, newcomer More Song promises to showcase innovative writing from the North at The Record Café. Back on 5 April – with headliner Joe Carrick-Varty (Anthony Burgess Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of Manchester), and readings by Emily Oldfield, Nicola Singh and Charlotte Shevchenko-Knight – More Song is hosted by the new Manchester Cathedral Writer-in-Residence, Tom Branfoot.
Also over the Pennines, keep an eye out for Resonance and Nine Lives Poetry in Sheffield (and, en route, Glossop Bookfest’s monthly open mic); in Huddersfield, try Ink Spill (now at The Head Of Steam) and monthly Attic Stories at Lawrence Batley Theatre, hosted by the talented Rose Condo; head to Headingley for the monthly Soundbites open mic with guest poet at the Enterprise & Arts Centre, and stay more city centre Leeds for Chemistry each month, with headliners and an open mic, and the Radical Reading Book Group at Left Bank.
Out west, and in Liverpool, don’t forget to look up the regulars like A Lovely Word, Blast!, dead good poets society (new details: the third Thursday at MerseyMade cafe on Paradise Street), Give Poetry A Chance, Liver Bards and Speakeasy. The Dreaming is now a fixture at The Reader’s new city-centre venue The Reader Bar & Restaurant, and head to its Mansion House HQ in south Liverpool’s Calderstones Park for the weekly Poetry Walk. Across the water, there’s Limoncello and The River Poets in Birkenhead, and Testify continues apace in Chester.
For borrowing and browsing books, check out the Manchester Poetry Library, plus Deansgate’s John Rylands Library, the Portico Library, Chetham’s Library, and the Working Class Movement Library in Salford. For buying books, check out the next Northern Publishers’ Fair, visit Elizabeth Gaskell’s House for the monthly book sale and flick through our Bookshops in Manchester Guide. If you’re venturing further afield from Manchester – now officially an “excellent” UNESCO city of Literature – see our literary guides to Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Cumbria, and don’t forget to scroll down for more events and activities in the land of Literature.
Here are our picks
Huddersfield Literature Festival, online, Until 2 April 2023, free entry - Visit now
Huddersfield Literature Festival is a celebration of poetry, prose and performance, spanning venues across the town and streamed online. This year, the Festival welcomes Helen Mort and Linton Kwesi Johnson as part of the extensive line-up running 23 March to 2 April.
The House of the Interpreter by Lisa Kelly: Carcanet Online Book Launch , online, 12 April 2023, from £2.00 - Book now
Lisa Kelly launches her second collection, The House of the Interpreter, with an online reading and discussion on 12 April, hosted by fellow Carcanet poet Jason Allen-Paisant.
Vehicle Launch: Jen Calleja with H Gareth Gavin at Grapefruit, Sale, 14 April 2023, free entry - Find Out More
Hop on the tour bus as Jen Calleja rolls into Sale on 14 April to launch her debut novel Vehicle, published by Prototype, reading from the work and in conversation with fellow writer H Gareth Gavin.
NEVER WAS Book launch: H. Gareth Gavin in conversation with Andrew McMillan at Blackwell’s Manchester, Manchester, 17 April 2023, from £3.00 - Book now
Head to Blackwells bookshop on 17 April for the latest event in the Centre for New Writing live programme as Honor Gareth Gavin launches his debut novel, Never Was, reading an extract and chatting about the work with Andrew McMillan, presented in association with the University of Manchester’s CfNW and Centre for the Study of Sexuality and Culture.
An Evening with Douglas Stuart hosted by poet Helen Mort at Manchester Central Library, Manchester, 21 April 2023, from £10.00 - Book now
Manchester Literature Festival welcomes back bestselling author Douglas Stuart for an intimate evening at Central Library on 21 April, when he’ll be in conversation with award-winning poet Helen Mort.
Poets & Players at International Anthony Burgess Foundation (IABF), Manchester, 22 April 2023, free entry - Find Out More
Poets & Players presents performers both established and emerging, and the latest readers, on Saturday 22 April, are Katrina Naomi, Nick Makoha and Sammy Weaver, with players this month harpist (among other things) Rachael Gladwin and P&P sound technician Chris Davies.
A Walk Write-Shop with Anita Sethi at The Portico Library, Chinatown, 22 April 2023, from £10 - Book now
The Portico Library is running a series of Walk Write Workshops until June with its Rambler in Residence Anita Sethi, who has curated a season of events exploring protest, the right to roam, wellbeing and access to nature; the latest – on 22 April – celebrates Earth Day, and looks at our effect on the environment and Manchester’s role in the climate crisis.
Northern Publishers' Fair at Manchester Central Library, Manchester, 29 April 2023, free entry - Find Out More
Various independent publishing houses will be setting out their stalls at Manchester Central Library on 29 April 2023 for the latest Northern Publishers’ Fair, organised by Manchester’s own Fly On The Wall Press.
Mary Barton Season, online, Until 13 December 2023, from £5.00 - Book now
The team at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House on Plymouth Grove has already celebrated the author’s famous novels Cranford and North And South, and in 2023 it’s the turn of Mary Barton: A Tale Of Manchester Life. The special season of events and online talks runs throughout the year.
THEY at John Rylands Research Institute and Library, City Centre, 5–9 July 2023, from £10.00 - Book now
The band’s back together. Regular MIF collaborators Maxine Peake, Sarah Frankcom and Imogen Knight unveil a brand-new production – a chilling adaptation of a lost dystopian masterpiece turned cult classic. Part of Manchester International Festival, performances take place 5 to 9 July.
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.
Join the Radical Reading Book Group every six weeks to discuss a book from The Reading Room Library – which you can find at Left Bank Leeds in collaboration with London-based independent radical publishers Pluto Press.
Head to Elizabeth Gaskell’s House this April for some special family craft activities inspired by Victorian cards and Easter bonnets.
Every Thursday morning you’re invited to join the Poetry Walk with The Reader in Calderstones Park. Get into the great outdoors and escape the everyday, while exploring poetry and making the most of the beautiful surroundings in a safe and socially distanced way.
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