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 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, Blast!, 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 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. 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.

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. 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 David 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 beams in Jay Gao on 24 August, launching his much-anticipated debut collection with a chat to Will Harris. Jay then joins another Carcanet poet Jee Leong Koh IRL at a special summer reading event presented by Carcanet with Peter Barlow’s Cigarette on 21 August. 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. 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.

  • 2. 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.

  • 3. 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.

  • 4. 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.

  • 5. 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.

  • 6. 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.

  • 7. 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.

  • 8. 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).

  • 9. 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.

  • 10. 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.

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