Literature Events in Manchester and the North

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor

We may be living in the online world for live literature still, but there’s plenty to fill your diary with this April thanks to a whole host of virtual festival events, digital book launches, small screen spoken word showcases and socially distanced reading series…

Liverpool’s A Lovely Word kicks off the month with British/Ghanaian writer and spoken word artist Miss Yankey on 1 April, while Liver Bards’ latest event, ‘Self-Portrait’ featuring Elspeth McLean, airs on 6 April. Manchester’s Word Central returns to our Zoom rooms on 15 April, welcoming poet Louise Fazackerley; slightly later than usual in the month as the week earlier, on 7 April, WC MC Tony Curry is launching a new book with Flapjack Press, We Kid Ourselves. Virtual Verbose is back on 19 April, featuring an open mic alongside guests poet Natalie Ann Holborow and former Verbose host Zena Barrie.

Manchester publisher Carcanet Press hosts launches – with, first up, Victoria Kennefick’s “daring” debut full collection Eat Or We Both Starve then Victoria’s host Martina Evans launches her own book, American Mules, on 21 April, more on both here – while Comma Press and Manchester Metropolitan University take their Publishing Conference 2021 online on 24 and 25 April.

The literary series of Novel Voices events, from Creative Manchester and Blackwell’s Bookshop, sees Ellah Wakatama in conversation with 10 debut authors over the run, and continues with Cherie Jones and Nekesa Afia on 12 April followed by Natasha Brown and Jarred McGinnis on 26 April. Creative Manchester also teams up with the Centre for New Writing on 20 April when creative writing lecturer Beth Underdown talks to acclaimed travel and nature writer, memoirist, broadcaster and children’s author Horatio Clare about his recovery from a mental breakdown, as told in his latest book, Heavy Light. More here.

We’ve been hearing good things about Klara And The Sun, and its author Kazuo Ishiguro is in conversation with Jackie Kay on 19 April as part of the Manchester Literature Festival spring programme, which also features a series of brand-new commissions, in association with Centre for New Writing and Creative Manchester. First was Roger Robinson hosted by Malika Booker, then, on 8 April, rising star on the British poetry scene Caleb Femi chats to writer and performer Vanessa Kisuule, and on 22 April, Natalie Diaz presents her new work and talks about it with Costa winner Mary Jean Chan. All MLF spring events will be captioned and available to watch for seven days after they are first broadcast.

The month comes to a close with another festival as Queer Contact takes place 28 April until 1 May, featuring various writers including Young Identity’s Roma Havers and Ella Otomewo, who will be curating the Outspoken showcase of poets and performers, and Dean Atta, who will be reading from his debut novel The Black Flamingo and chatting about it with the UK’s LGBT History Month Poet Laureate Adam Lowe.

Don’t forget to scroll down for more events and activities. Check out our Guide To Bookshops In Manchester – many of the indies will order books for you and deliver locally while the libraries are shut – plus our literary guides to LiverpoolLeeds, Sheffield and Cumbria.

We are so grateful to National Lottery players, The National Lottery, DCMS and Arts Council England for supporting our freelance writers during this crisis. This means that, although venues remain shut and campaigns cancelled, our writers can be reengaged to help arts organisations and artists across the North of England share their online content with our culture-hungry readers.

Here are our picks

  • 1. Carcanet online book launches: Victoria Kennefick & Martina Evans

    Victoria Kennefick poet
    Poet Victoria Kennefick.

    Victoria Kennefick: Eat or We Both Starve: Online Book Launch, online, Until 21 April 2021, from £2 - Book now

    Join Victoria Kennefick as she talks to The Irish Times critic Martina Evans about her first full poetry collection, Eat Or We Both Starve, described as “daring” and out with Manchester’s Carcanet Press on 31 March, while Martina Evans launches her own American Mules on 21 April, the follow-up to her 2018 book-length sequence Now We Can Talk Openly About Men.

  • 2. Novel Voices online with Ellah Wakatama

    Author Jarred McGinnis
    Author Jarred McGinnis.

    Novel Voices- Natasha Brown and Jarred McGinnis in Conversation with Ellah Wakatama, online, Until 26 April 2021, from £3 - Book now

    Novel Voices, the five-part online series featuring Ellah Wakatama in conversation with 10 debut authors helping to shape 2021’s literary landscape, continues afoot: Cherie Jones and Nekesa Afia are in the hot seat on 12 April followed by Natasha Brown and Jarred McGinnis on 26 April.

  • 3. Natalie Diaz and Mary Jean Chan online at Manchester Literature Festival

    Natalie Diaz
    Poet Natalie Diaz.

    Natalie Diaz NEW COMMISSION Hosted by Mary Jean Chan, online, 22–29 April 2021, free entry - Find Out More

    For the very first time, American poet Natalie Diaz presents Radixes and Formations, a brand-new commission written especially for Manchester Literature Festival, talking about the work to Costa Book Award for Poetry winner Mary Jean Chan. Showing for the first time on 22 April, the captioned performance will be available to view online for seven days afterwards.

  • 4. Dean Atta online at Queer Contact 2021

    Poet Dean Atta. Photo by Hussina Raja.
    Writer Dean Atta. Photo by Hussina Raja.

    Queer Contact 2021: Dean Atta: Black Flamingo, online, 1 May 2021, from £3.75 - Book now

    Hear Dean Atta read some excerpts from his award-winning novel The Black Flamingo and discuss his works with Adam Lowe in this Queer Contact 2021 live online event on 1 May, followed by a free poetry workshop led by him on Zoom.

  • 5. WoWFEST 2021

    Salena Godden. Photo © Olivia Rutherford

    WoWFEST 2021, online, 1–31 May 2021 - Book now

    WoWFEST, Liverpool’s longest-running writing and literary festival, is running throughout May with a packed programme of online events, welcoming the likes of author of international bestseller My Name Is Leon Kit de Waal, poet, performer and now novelist Salena Godden, writer and editor Nikesh Shukla, local poetry face Roger McGough, children’s author Michael Rosen and Booker Prize-winner Ben Okri.

  • 6. Suzannah V Evans online book launch with Eleanor Rees

    Poet Eleanor Rees. Photo by Elly Lucas.

    Book Launch - Suzannah V Evans, with Eleanor Rees, online, 6 May 2021, free entry - Find Out More

    On 6 May, Liverpool-based Eleanor Rees is the guest poet reading at the online launch of Suzannah V Evans’ brand-new pamphlet Brightwork, out with Guillemot Press, who are publishing Eleanor’s own next collection in 2022.

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