Literature Events in Manchester and the North

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor

As June hits its midway point, Bad Language present a special one-off short-short story slam special on 18 June at Gullivers, with a great line-up, then avant poetry purveyors No Matter are back next day over the way at The Castle featuring a New Matter commission by Lisa Robertson. The following week sees the launch of flash fiction anthology Story Cities at shiny new bookshop Blackwell’s, with free readings, free wine and, possibly, free cake…

Festival season continues apace, including the first Weekend of Words at Victoria Baths, featuring creative writing workshops (and a creative writing competition seeking submissions until 4 August – see the VB website for more) with Tania Hershman (also at Didsbury Arts Festival), Mark Pajak and The Real Story, a poetry panel with Clare Shaw, Ella Duffy and Lenni Sanders, whose pamphlet Poacher is just out on Emma Press, plus an appearance by our very own Literature Editor, Sarah-Clare Conlon wearing her Victoria Baths Writer-in-Residence hat and reading a brand-new short story alongside five other special commissions from writers Kate Feld, David Gaffney, Phil Olsen, Joe Stretch and Lara Williams, whose much anticipated debut novel, Supper Club, is published this summer with a launch event at Waterstone’s on Wednesday 3 July.

Didsbury Arts Festival runs 22-30 June, and this year has a strong literature thread, with readings, book launches and talks a-go-go from the likes of Lemn Sissay, Henry Normal, Neil Campbell, Caroline England, Hilary Robinson and plenty more besides, and the official launch of Manchester indie publisher Some Roast Poet. Check out the DAF website for the full programme and details of tickets. Manchester International Festival has its first focus on literature, with the specially commissioned Studio Creole project running for three nights 12-14 July and featuring new work and performances by seven award-winning and critically acclaimed writers from around the world.

Highlights for July we’re looking forward to include the latest That’s What She Said, with poet Rebecca Tamás taking on headliner duties, another Carcanet triple bill, with Lucy Burnett, Jeremy Over and Helen Tookey chaired by Michael Schmidt at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, the summer launch of PN Review at Castlefield Gallery, and the third in the Rewriting The North reading series, organised by The Portico Library and Man Met’s Centre for Place Writing, this time with fiction writers Fiona Mozley and Andrew Michael Hurley (June welcomes Rosie Garland and Livi Michael).

Before you get back to your books, scroll down to our More in Literature stories, where you’ll find plenty about the Peterloo events – Lines on the Wall will see performances at Friends’ Meeting House on 4 July by TS Eliot Prize-winning poet Philip Gross and acclaimed short story writer, poet and Southern Cemetery Writer-in-Residence Tania Hershman, with an open mic on the theme of walls, division or borders. And don’t forget to check out our guide to the UNESCO City of Literature, where you’ll find some bookworm-friendly go-tos, including John Rylands Library (where Rosie Garland is Writer-in-Residence) and the oldest public library in the English-speaking world, Chet’s – with events including an Iris Murdoch evening on 20 June.

Our updated Guide To Bookshops In Manchester is here, and there’s a regular secondhand book sale at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House – next up, on Sunday 14 July and Sunday 11 August (11am-4pm) – and a birthday party for Emmeline Pankhurst with storytelling and more at the nearby Pankhurst Centre on the afternoon of Sunday 14 July, but if you fancy venturing further afield, then our tips for trips include must-go Literary Places in Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Cumbria.

Here are our picks

  • 1. Story Cities launch at Blackwell’s

    Sarah-Clare Conlon. Photo by Gwen Riley Jones
    Writer Sarah-Clare Conlon. Photo by Gwen Riley Jones.

    Story Cities: A City Guide for the Imagination. Manchester Book Launch at Blackwell’s Manchester, Manchester, 27 June 2019, free entry - Find Out More

    Join authors Sarah-Clare Conlon, Cath Holland, Dave Murray, Cherry Potts and Reshma Ruia as they head up the official Northern launch of the new Story Cities: A City Guide For The Imagination flash fiction anthology with readings, signings, wine and cake.

  • 2. Lemn Sissay and Dave Haslam In Conversation at Didsbury Arts Festival

    Poet Lemn Sissay. Photo by Hamish Brown.

    Lemn Sissay and Dave Haslam In Conversation, 27 June 2019, from £10 - Book now

    There’s plenty to take in live literature wise at this year’s Didsbury Arts Festival – from tours and talks at Southern Cemetery to book launches and readings in the village, including Lemn Sissay talking to prolific writer himself Dave Haslam.

  • 3. That’s What She Said featuring Rebecca Tamás at Tribeca

    Poet Rebecca Tamás at That's What She Said.
    Poet Rebecca Tamás.

    That's What She Said featuring Rebecca Tamás at Tribeca, Manchester, 4 July 2019, from £4 - Book now

    After sell-out shows in Edinburgh and London and an appearance at Altrincham Word Festival, the That’s What She Said showcase of the best new writing and performance by women and non-binary writers is back in central Manchester with poet Rebecca Tamás taking on headliner duties.

  • 4. MIF19: Studio Creole at Manchester Academy

    Studio Creole
    Writer Adam Thirlwell. Photo by Peter Marlow.

    Studio Créole at Manchester Academy, Manchester, 12–14 July 2019, from £10 - Book now

    Part of Manchester International Festival 2019 and curated by award-winning author Adam Thirlwell over three separate sessions and in a specially built set designed by The Factory architect Rem Koolhaas, Studio Creole sees seven leading writers from seven countries tell seven new stories – in seven different languages.

  • 5. PN Review Summer Launch at Castlefield Gallery

    Poet Lisa Kelly.

    PN Review Summer Launch at Castlefield Gallery, Castlefield, 24 July 2019, free entry - Find Out More

    The summer launch of Manchester-based poetry and criticism magazine PN Review, which celebrates its 46th birthday this year, features readings from contributors including Joe Carrick-Varty, Andy Croft, Jennifer Edgecombe, Lisa Kelly, Stav Poleg and John Wilkinson.

  • 6. Rewriting The North at The Portico Library

    Author Andrew Michael Hurley.
    Author Andrew Michael Hurley.

    Rewriting the North at The Portico Library, Chinatown, 25 July 2019, free entry - Find Out More

    A collaboration between The Portico Library and Man Met’s Centre for Place Writing, the third event in the Rewriting The North reading series explores the relationship between writing and place – particularly the North of England – through the eyes of prose writers Fiona Mozley and Andrew Michael Hurley.

  • 7. Kapow! Original Comic Book Art at Cooper Gallery Barnsley

    Kapow! Original Comic Book Art from Dean Ormston & Fiona Stephenson
    Artwork in Kapow!

    Kapow! Original Comic Book Art from Dean Ormston & Fiona Stephenson at The Cooper Gallery, Barnsley, Barnsley, 18 May–28 August 2019, free entry - Visit now

    Award-winning 2000AD artist Dean Ormston and internationally renowned DC Vertigo artist Fiona Stephenson curate a unique and colourful comic book art exhibition, featuring their own work alongside the likes of Charlie Adlard, Jamie Hewlett and Mike Mignola.

More in Literature

Exhibitions 7 June–18 August 2019,

Peterloo 2019

Manchester Histories prepares to launch a major programme of over 150 events to commemorate the 200-year anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre. All of the essential Peterloo events in one place.

Families 3 July 2019, FREE

Radical Read at Manchester Art Gallery

This celebration event is inspired by Peterloo and young people’s involvement in protest over the last 200 years.

Families 5–7 July 2019, from £70

Timber Festival 2019

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.

Elizabeth Gaskell House. Photo by Maddie Farris Photography
Literature 11 August 2019, from £5

Secondhand book sale at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

‘Possibly the best secondhand book sale in Manchester’ takes place every second Sunday of the month in the Servants Hall of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House on Plymouth Grove, a short walk from the city centre.

Black and British: David Olusoga in conversation with Hannah Barker – Manchester Histories – Manchester Art Gallery – Peterloo 2019
Literature 17 August 2019, FREE

Black and British: David Olusoga in conversation with Hannah Barker at Manchester Art Gallery

As part of Peterloo 2019, Manchester Histories presents an in conversartion event between David Olusoga OBE and Hannah Barker at Manchester Art Gallery.

Red Dust Road at HOME
Literature 11–21 September 2019, from £10.00

Red Dust Road at HOME

Growing up in 1970s Scotland as the adopted mixed raced child of a Scottish couple, young Jackie blossomed into an outspoken, talented poet. Then she decided to find her birth parents…

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