The leaves are changing hue and Poets & Players is well into its autumn season at the Whitworth overlooking the park, just welcoming Deryn Rees-Jones and Sean O’Brien (also at The Portico on 11 October) to its MLF special. Next to come, on 17 November, is newly Forward Prized-up Liz Berry, performing in the afternoon and running a creative writing workshop in the morning. The Black Country poet is joined by Sophie Herxheimer, Kapka Kassobova and Tariq Latif, each performing specially commissioned work on the subject of ‘Migrations’, plus musicians Archipelago playing live in the South Gallery.
Be sure to leg it into town afterwards for an “afternoon of alternative poetries” with Peter Barlow’s Cigarette in the secret room upstairs at Waterstone’s – the most recent Saturday showcase featured Richard Barrett and Steve Hanson presenting Dostoyevsky Wannabe-published The Acts. If you missed them, they’ll be popping up at Dulcimer (Chorlton), launching brand-new Hanson and Adrian Slatcher-edited publication Some Roast Poet on 27 October (3pm, free entry), supplemented with readings from Mid Life Crisis zine, edited by Sally Barrett. Also in Chorlton is new spoken word night Big Words, which kicked off in September – next one is 18 October (7.30pm, free entry, Vinyl Fiction), then onwards as the months pass. Now confirmed for September’s gig is David Gaffney, reading from the Confingo-published Joy Division anthology We Were Strangers: Stories Inspired by Unknown Pleasures. Another We Were Strangers contributor Eley Williams, meanwhile, is delivering the keynote speech at this year’s National Creative Writing Graduate Fair.
Following a stint at Fred’s Ale House in Levenshulme with a stellar line-up of Emily Morris (whose My Shitty Twenties has just been picked up for a TV adaptation), Emma Jane Unsworth (her own Animals coming out as a feature film in the spring, starring Holliday Grainger and Alia “Search Party” Shawkat) and Nicola Mostyn (The Gods of Love) in September, Verbose is back in its old Fallowfield home on Monday 29 October, at the newly named HAUS on Landcross Road. In the meantime, head to Night & Day on Sunday 21 October (7.30pm) for the Verbose Spoken Word Showcase as part of Dave Haslam’s four-day WAM (Words and Music) Festival, featuring a plethora of readers, including James Friel, Maz Hedgehog and Rosie Fleeshman, fresh from the Fringe.
Also in October, there’s “a new writing night like no other brought to you by Powder Keg” called My Uncle Who Works For Nintendo (25 October, 7.30pm, £2 unwaged, £5 waged, £10 solidarity, The Peer Hat NQ). No Matter nipped over the street to Gullivers for its Halloween special with Nat Raha, Alice Tarbuck and more (it’ll be back at The Castle next time round), lazy Sunday evening outing Murmur returns to Common on 28 October, with readings from Alan Fielden, Honor Gavin and Aurelia Guo, and last but of course by no means least, Bad Language brings the month to a close at Gullivers NQ, with a special guest… before November gets underway with an All Saints’ Day one-off from First Draft and That’s What She Said back at Tribeca, featuring poet Louise Fazackerley.
On the festival front, Dunham Massey has hosted its first-ever weekend-long poetry festival, Women In Words, showcasing a whole host of female talents from Kate Fox to Kim Moore, Ryedale Book Festival delved into romance, true crime and witch hunts, Vital Signs checked your pulse for poetry and performance, dance and movement style, and the internationally renowned Lakes International Comic Art Festival returned to Kendal for a sixth year. Manchester Literature Festival is back for a 13th – including performances by Beth Underdown of her specially commissioned ghost stories from her residency at Quarry Bank Mill and a celebration of Ted Hughes’ poetry to close proceedings, with readings from, among others, Zaffar Kunial, newly shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. There’s also this year’s Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival, which revisits Charlotte Brontë and reappraises Emily Brontë in a Saraband special featuring Sophie Franklin and Claire O’Callaghan, and which rounds off with Simon Armitage reading from his recent Yorkshire Sculpture Park-inspired collection, among other things. The first-ever Radość Pisania: Manchester Polish Poetry Festival takes place, celebrating ours and Kraków’s UNESCO City of Literature status, and including a walking tour of Southern Cemetery with Tania Hershman; another walking tour, with Rosie Garland, takes place in the Northern Quarter. Tickets are also on sale for next month’s Chester Literature Festival.
Finally, be sure to check out our guide to the UNESCO City of Literature, our “More in Literature” stories at the bottom of the main guide, plus our must-go Literary Places in Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Cumbria.
Here are our picks
For its thirteenth outing, it’s lucky for all, as MLF18 brings over 80 events to venues across the city. From literary walks and spoken word to discussions and debates, there’s bound to be something in this year’s programme to pop in your diary. Read our general round-up here and keep popping back for our picks of poetry and prose.
Featuring internationally acclaimed poets, award-winning authors, crime novelists, script writers and theatre makers, the sixth annual Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival thinks outside the books, exploring philosophical and political threads, alongside plenty of fun events for all the family.
The witching hour is upon us, and First Draft will be haunting the atmospheric Portico Library for one night only, with a special All Hallow’s Day showcase of spooky stories and sketches. Be sure to catch the Spirited exhibition while you’re there.
The fourth National Creative Writing Graduate Fair is the perfect place for up-and-coming writers to pick up top tips and inspiration from literary agents, editors, authors and other publishing industry experts – think panels, workshops and networking opportunities, pitching sessions and a keynote speech by Eley Williams.
Happy Halloween – we’ve clocked two walking tours perfect for scaring you silly! First up, tour guide Emma Fox and writer Tania Hershman take a spooky spin of Southern Cemetery as part of Manchester Polish Poetry Festival on 30 October, then Anne Beswick hotfoots it round a Victorian Northern Quarter inspired by Rosie Garland’s novel The Night Brother on 3 November.
A bigger and better than ever Chester Literature Festival runs for three weeks from 10 November to 1 December, with Horatio Clare, Vanessa Gebbie, Laura Robertson and Lemn Sissay on our “Spotter’s Guide”, and plenty more events besides.
The Poets & Players poetry and musical compositions series is back at The Whitworth on Saturday 17 November, with Forward Prize winner Liz Berry performing her work and leading a creative writing workshop, alongside three fellow poets and Archipelago performing live. Not to be missed.
Manchester Literature Festival and Northern commissioned poet Helen Mort to write about the journey from Manchester to Hebden Bridge. Courtesy MLF and Northern, you can explore the Calder Valley’s rich literary heritage with a special trail and map.
Get up close to this much-loved stripey tale in a new interactive exhibition of Judith Kerr’s life and work.
The Bluecoat’s popular Baby Book Club returns with a course of 10 weekly sessions for parents and carers with babies aged from 3 to 12 months.
A new show from Elmi Ali, one of the most exciting artists to emerge from Manchester’s vibrant and diverse spoken word scene.
The New Uncanny: Tales of Unease, is a new anthology of horror fiction featuring some of the best British horror authors. Matthew Holness, writer of one of the short stories Possum, will join us for a book signing before the screening.
Young Identity are holding a special evening of spoken word and poetry as part of the Festival of Leaving which runs at the Manchester Jewish Museum in November.
The brainchild of Manchester’s resident critically-acclaimed author and prize-winning peace activist, Qaisra Shahraz; MACFEST is a new 10-day celebration of art, literature, music, film, food and heritage relating to the Muslim diaspora, which will open in venues across the city this November.
An extraordinary new festival where music, art, philosophy and sustainability weave together into an exhilarating weekend in the heart of the National Forest, one of Britain’s boldest environmental projects.