Many of the city’s institutions and organisers are taking the difficult decision to cancel or postpone events and festivals as a precaution in light of recent developments surrounding the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Not Quite Light has been rescheduled to tie in with the clocks going back on 24 October; Altrincham Word Festival has moved its third instalment to 20 September-4 October.
We’ll update the Literature Guide to reflect cancellations, but check out the previews nonetheless for news of books just out and books worth revisiting – whether you’re self-isolating or simply taking advantage of the chance to slow down a bit, it might be an opportunity to increase your reading repertoire and stock up your home library. Check out our Guide To Bookshops In Manchester; some will order your tomes for you. And follow local legend @SavidgeReads, who has instigated an indie bookshop pile-on so you can find out places that will deliver books to your door.
You might not be able to hear from Manchester writers Sarah Butler and Okechukwu Nzelualso in person this March, but you can still get hold of their new novels, Jack & Bet and The Private Joys Of Nnenna Maloney, respectively. Poetry more your bag? Man Met lecturer Jean Sprackland’s launch was rescheduled and then postponed for a second time, but her latest collection, These Silent Mansions, is still available to buy – same for Carol Ann Duffy’s guests Andrew McMillan and Ella Duffy, and Frances Leviston and Kirsty Logan.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter, too, for links to podcasts and online publications – Manchester City of Literature’s post-Poets & Players tree-planting ceremony with poets John McAuliffe and Aisha Mirza might be off, but instead we’ll be celebrating World Poetry Day on Saturday 21 March from the comfort of our own home by listening to some of the Poetry Exchange’s Poems As Friends, chosen by you on the recent International Mother Language Day organised by the UNESCO City of Literature.
The special Poets & Players commission Altered Nature with Jane Burn, Mary Jean Chan, Isaiah Hull and David Wheatley, due to take place on 21 March, will hopefully be rescheduled, as will the annual prize-giving ceremony with judge Sinead Morrissey – keep coming back and we’ll keep you posted on new dates.
Meanwhile, a fabulous new exhibition, Carcanet, all about the independent poetry publisher, is opening this week at The John Rylands Library and runs for the next six months – and the newest library in town is just around the corner in Spinningfields. The monthly secondhand book sale at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House is due on 12 April; but if it’s cancelled, it’ll be back later in the year, along with the chance to catch the Ruskin exhibition, on until July.
Don’t forget to Read More: scroll down for our More in Literature stories, information on the weekly Poetry Walk at The Reader’s recently revamped Mansion House in Liverpool’s Calderstones Park, and get more tips for trips with our literary guides to Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Cumbria.
Here are our picks
The Carcanet 50th anniversary celebrations continue with a special exhibition sneaking a peek into the archive of the Manchester-based poetry publishing house, usually behind the scenes at the magnificent John Rylands Library on Deansgate but for six months taking centre stage.
Spend An Evening with Hilary Mantel (or 80 minutes, at least) at this Manchester Literature Festival Bookend event as author Kamila Shamsie talks historical fiction and The Mirror & The Light, the concluding book in the Man Booker Prize-winning Tudor Trilogy.
Mrs Gaskell would be proud – a regular book-buying opportunity literally on her doorstep. Peruse the secondhand tomes then perambulate around the rather pleasant RHS award-winning gardens and soak up the atmosphere of the North & South author’s Plymouth Grove villa. Check out the Ruskin exhibition too – on until July 2020. The next book sale is 12 April…
Part of a worldwide movement, open now in Spinningfields the colourful Little Library gives you the chance to swap novels, collections and other books you’ve read for ones you haven’t – or you fancy revisiting – from classics to brand-new just-hitting-the-bookshelves titles.
Every Tuesday morning you’re invited to join the Poetry Walk with The Reader in Liverpool’s lovely Calderstones Park. Get into the great outdoors and escape the everyday, while exploring poetry and making the most of the beautiful surroundings.
Find a cosy corner, pull up a cushion and listen to fun stories.
Manchester Literature Festival is bringing the Little Reads storytime to Facebook every Wednesday morning. A perfect way to help children aged 2-6 develop their language skills from home.
Join The Storybarn online for classic stories, family favourites and nursery rhymes through storytelling and sing-a-longs.
Comma Press will discuss Thirteen Months of Sunrise by Rania Mamoun with translator Elisabeth Jaquette as part of their new online book club.
Leeds International Festival, the UK’s leading metropolitan festival of new ideas and innovation, is back for its third year.
Because of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, we are unable to bring you our usual recommendations for things to do in Manchester and the North. Our thoughts at this time are with our readers and with the organisations and businesses who make the North of England a great place to live and visit. We hope you stay well and look forward to sharing more unmissable events and places with you later in the year.
Here’s our guide to supporting organisations in Manchester and the North.
Please note – many of the venues on our site will be closed and events either postponed or cancelled. Please check the venue website for details.