Literature Events in Manchester and the North

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor

Live literature has plenty for readers and writers alike this spring, with emerging names and established authors taking to a mic near you, along with the opportunity to perform or put pen to paper yourself. There’s lots to listen to in real life and there are still opportunities to join in to events online.

Also be sure to check out the nearby Manchester Poetry Library, where Jenny Mitchell‘s postponed appearance has been rescheduled, and Central Library, where Crime Central sees Rob Parker speak to authors Gytha Lodge, Sarah Moorhead and Stuart Turton on 26 May; meanwhile, keep an eye on the Portico Library for its Rewriting The North series, relaunched on 26 April. From libraries to art galleries, and Poets & Players is back at the Whitworth on Saturday 14 May, with Hannah Lowe, Richard Scott and Creative Tourist‘s very own Sarah-Clare Conlon; nearby, Elizabeth Gaskell’s House is worth an IRL visit for spring colour in the garden, while online they continue their series of talks as part of the North And South season. Also online, Manchester’s Carcanet Press are hosting a number of small-screen launches this May, including new books by Phoebe Power, Philip Terry and Helen Tookey.

Another senior lecturer in creative writing (but at Liverpool Hope University, rather than Liverpool John Moores), Eleanor Rees’ Liverpool launch for her new Guillemot collection, Tam Lin of the Winter Park, has the walled garden at Mossley Hill’s Sudley House as its backdrop. Also in Liverpool, various nights like Give Poetry A Chance and Liver Bards are back in real life, and A Lovely Word is taking over St James’ Gardens on 2 June while also gearing up for a festival at the Everyman in July, featuring the likes of Hollie McNish (also at HOME Mcr). Blast! (5) hits the stage at Jimmy’s on Bold Street on 25 May, with the likes of Cath Holland, and host Saint Vespaluus is also helming the popular Spoken Word night at the Mansion House on 20 May. The Reader’s headquarters is hosting regular events and their weekly Poetry Walks also continue in south Liverpool’s Calderstones Park; find out more here.

Over in Leeds, check out the line-up, including open micers alongside Ella Otomewo and Casey Bailey, at the latest Chelping at the lovely Leeds Library, hosted by Tubthumping‘s Matt Abbott.

The aforementioned Carcanet are part of the line-up of the Northern Publishers’ Fair at Central Library, while other talent showcases include Chorlton Arts Festival and the gala prize-giving event of the Manchester Writing Competition, both of which feature poetry alongside prose.

There are a number of grassroots events to check out west of the Pennines, including two brand-new nights: Speaking In Tongues is happening on 12 May, presented by Cloudwater Brewery at their new Kampus bar, the Bungalow, and featuring Zoe Lambert, Lisa O’Hare and others, and, a week later, Desert Café on 19 May at Manchester city centre’s Corbières (8.30pm start), hosted by Death Of Workers While Building Skyscrapers Publishing, and featuring Sally Barrett, Tom Branfoot, John Clifford, Kate Feld, Bonnie Hancell, Jamie Lee and Nell Osbourne. More avant-garde poetry can be sniffed out at Ditto, where Peter Barlow’s Cigarette returns on Saturday 21 May (3-5pm, free), hosting Lucy Harvest Clarke, Jeremy Hilton and Ghazal Mosadeq.

Performance poetry has returned to nearby Central Library with Word Central – the next is 31 May, featuring James Hartnell; in the burbs, Write Out Loud Sale is back 16 May, with a takeover night by the magnificent feminist collective Stirred, and Speak Easy is at Dulcimer in Chorlton every first Thursday of the month (next is 9 June, avoiding the bank holiday).

In Salford, Verbose continues to fill out the King’s Arms every last Monday of the month, with headliners Betty Doyle and Dave Viney on 30 May. Verbose is up for Best Regular Spoken Word Night in the Saboteur Awards, as is Sayin’?, which next takes place at Niamos on 16 May. Getting a special mention in the Sabs is Switchblade Society, back on 12 June with a bumper open mic of performers reading their own and each other’s work at The Peer Hat.

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. Carcanet online book launch: In The Quaker Hotel by Helen Tookey

    Poet Helen Tookey
    Poet Helen Tookey.

    In the Quaker Hotel by Helen Tookey: Carcanet Book Launch, online, 25 May 2022, from £2.00 - Book now

    Poet, writer and editor Helen Tookey will be reading from her new Carcanet Press collection, In The Quaker Hotel, and chatting about it with writer and critic Seán Hewitt online on 25 May.

  • 2. Manchester Writing Competition Gala Prize-giving Ceremony at Man Met

    Poet Malika Booker.
    Poet Malika Booker.

    Manchester Writing Competition – Gala Prize-giving Ceremony at Manchester Poetry Library, Manchester, 26 May 2022, free entry - Find Out More

    It’s our favourite time of the year! The glittering gala prize-giving ceremony celebrating and awarding the Manchester Writing Competition is back, including the announcement of the 2021 Poetry and Fiction Prize winners. Head to the new home of the Manchester Writing School on 26 May.

  • 3. Crime Central at Central Library

    Stuart Turton. Photo by Charlotte Graham
    Author Stuart Turton. Photo by Charlotte Graham.

    Crime Central at Manchester Central Library, Manchester, 26 May 2022, from £5.00 - Book now

    There’s murder and mayhem in the library! Manchester Libraries’ new monthly event Crime Central is back for a second outing on 26 May at Central Library, hosted by Rob Parker and featuring the best and brightest crime writing talent both locally and from around the country, including Costa Book Award-winning Stuart Turton.

  • 4. Chorlton Arts Festival at various venues

    Performer Keisha Thompson
    Performer Keisha Thompson. Photo by Ape Ninja.

    Chorlton Arts Festival at Chorlton Library, Chorlton, Until 29 May 2022, free entry - Visit now

    Running 29 April to 29 May, Chorlton Arts Festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a new patron in the form of former Scottish Makar Jackie Kay and a whole host of literary arts.

  • 5. 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.

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