Literature Events in Manchester and the North

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor

There are plenty of online readings and live launches as Manchester and the North welcomes some great writers with book festival season getting underway, and there are loads of new spoken word nights and open mics to check out…

The Portico Library’s Rewriting the North series continues in October, while Central Library is the place to head for some Northern noir courtesy the monthly Crime Central hosted by Rob Parker. Meanwhile, Manchester Poetry Library celebrates its first birthday, and up the Oxford Road Corridor there’s loads going on at Contact, including poetry-theatre from Roma Havers and various Manchester Literature Festival poetry showcases. MLF also includes the annual John Rylands Poetry Reading, featuring Carcanet poet Carl Phillips, over from the States.

In Liverpool, various nights like A Lovely Word, Blast!, Give Poetry A Chance, Liver Bards and the popular Spoken Word night at the Mansion House are back for the autumn season (along with Gravity Festival), and there’s a centenary celebratory reading of T Eliot’s The Waste Land at Open Eye Gallery. Meanwhile, The Reader’s weekly Poetry Walks also continue in south Liverpool’s Calderstones Park every Thursday morning – bring a brolly and find out more here. In Lancaster, Litfest has a special Autumn Weekend taking place both in real life and online.

Over in Leeds, Chelping returns for the autumn, and its open mic compère Matt Abbott co-hosts Tubthumping with Maria Ferguson at The Constitutional in Farsley. Also in Farsley, head to Truman Books for various events and the new Ink Slinging: Farsley Literature Festival, while Leeds has a brand-new night, with its third bimonthly outing chalked up for November – Chemistry, hosted by Leeds poet Joe Williams. In Sheffield, keep an eye out for new night Resonance and also Nine Lives Poetry, in new venue John St Kitchen. In Hebden Bridge, meanwhile, get ready for this October’s inaugural Sylvia Plath Literary Festival, and, in Huddersfield, check out the new poetry night Ink Spill at The Grove.

West of the Pennines, we have a few new nights in town – or just out of town: Sour Theatre Collective’s Blah Blah Blah poetry night takes place at Café Blah in Withington, just round the corner from Beatification at Fuel. There’s also Crooked Poets hosted by John Darwin at Crooked Man Bar in Prestwich on the first Tuesday of the month, as well as Express Yourself hosted by David Scott (aka Argh Kid, BBC Radio Manchester) at Bask in Stockport on the last Wednesday of every month. Saboteur Awards Best Regular Spoken Word Night Verbose is back at the King’s Arms in Salford, and Poets & Players takes up residence in the Burgess Foundation. Word Central takes over Manchester Central Library’s events space monthly and don’t forget Speak Easy’s bumper open mic is at Dulcimer in Chorlton every first Thursday of the month.

For book purchases, flick through our Bookshops in Manchester Guide and don’t forget you still 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. Litfest Autumn Weekend 2022 at various venues and online

    Poet Kim Moore. Photo by Lorna Elizabeth
    Poet Kim Moore. Photo by Lorna Elizabeth.

    Lancaster Literature Festival - Litfest 2022 at The Storey Creative Industries Centre, Lancaster, Until 12 October 2022, from £5.00 - Book now

    Following on from Lancaster’s 43rd annual literature festival in March, now there’s a special autumnal edition of Litfest 6-12 October, in which you can take part either in person or virtually as the programme goes hybrid. With an opening event on National Poetry Festival hosted by Clare Shaw, and readings from Kim Moore, Eoghan Walls and more.

  • 2. Carl Phillips at John Rylands Library

    Carl Phillips. Photo Reston Allen
    Carl Phillips. Photo Reston Allen.

    Carl Phillips at John Rylands Research Institute and Library, City Centre, 13 October 2022, from £8.00 - Book now

    Part of Manchester Literature Festival, the annual John Rylands Poetry Reading with Manchester’s Carcanet Press is an event all in itself, and this year is no exception, welcoming “one of America’s most original, influential, and productive of lyric poets” Carl Phillips on 13 October.

  • 3. Rewriting the North online at the Portico Library

    Writer Jeff Young. Photo courtesy The Portico Library
    Writer Jeff Young. Photo courtesy The Portico Library.

    Rewriting the North: Graphic Writing, 13 October 2022, from £3.00 - Book now

    In the latest online event in The Portico Library’s 2022 Rewriting The North programme, on 13 October, writers Tabitha Lasley and Jeff Young talk about place, life writing and blurred genres to Dr David Cooper of the Centre for Place Writing.

  • 4. Poets & Players at Burgess Foundation

    Poet Kit Fan
    Poet Kit Fan.

    Poets & Players at International Anthony Burgess Foundation (IABF), Manchester, 22 October 2022, free entry - Find Out More

    Poets & Players has a new home as we edge into autumn, bringing its fabulous free afternoons of words and music townwards along the Oxford Road Corridor and into the International Anthony Burgess Foundation on 22 October.

  • 5. Manchester Literature Festival 2022

    Kamila Shamsie. Photo Alex von Tunzelman
    Poet and performer Inua Ellams.

    Manchester Literature Festival at Manchester Central Library, Manchester, 7–23 October 2022, from £5 - Book now

    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. We’re looking forward to Jon McGregor, Kit de Waal, Inua Ellams and Kayo Chingonyi, among others…

  • 6. Tubthumping at The Constitutional

    Louise Fazackerley. Photo by Richard Davis.
    Poet and performer Louise Fazackerley. Photo by Richard Davis.

    Tubthumping at The Constitutional, 3 November 2022, from £10.00 - Book now

    A rip-roaring evening featuring some of the UK’s most dynamic spoken word poets: Nymphs & Thugs present Tubthumping at The Constitutional – back on 3 November featuring Louise Fazackerley, whose new book The Pleasure Dome just just out with Burning Eye Books, and Jasmine Gardosi.

  • 7. Crime Central at Central Library

    Laure Van Rensburg
    Author Laure Van Rensburg.

    Crime Central at Manchester Central Library, Manchester, 3 November 2022, from £2.00 - Book now

    There’s blood on the carpet at Central Library, as Manchester Libraries’ Crime Central returns on 3 November to shine a spotlight on the best and brightest crime writing talent both locally and from around the country.

  • 8. Chemistry at Chemic Tavern

    Jimmy Andrex. Photo Margutte.
    Jimmy Andrex. Photo Margutte.

    Chemistry at The Chemic Tavern, Leeds, 18 November 2022, free entry - Find Out More

    Leeds’ bimonthly live literature night Chemistry promises an exciting mixture of headline guests and open mic acts, all introduced by Leeds-based poet Joe Williams. Head to the Chemic Tavern on 18 November for Chemistry 3: Li for Lithium, with guests Pamela Crowe and Sarah Wimbush.

  • 9. Forward Prizes at Contact and online

    Helen Mort. Photo by Jonathan Pow
    Helen Mort. Photo by Jonathan Pow.

    Forward Prizes at Contact Theatre, Manchester, 28 November 2022, from £15.00 - Book now

    It’s the 30th anniversary of the Forward Prizes for Poetry, the most influential awards for new poetry in the UK and Ireland, honouring fresh voices alongside internationally established names – and this year the glittering awards ceremony will take place right here in Manchester, on 28 November.

More in Literature

Literature Until 5 February 2025, FREE

The Little Library in Spinningfields

Take your pick from The Little Library’s carefully curated collection of classics and new releases, adding a recently read book of your own as a replacement.

Activity Until 25 February 2023, from £13

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House Tour

Visit the home influential Mancunian writer Elizabeth Gaskell, with expert guides and refreshments within the home it’s a truly immersive way to learn about her life.

Elizabeth Gaskell's House garden. Photo by Chris Tucker
Literature Until 11 December 2022, from £4.50

Book sale at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House and award-winning garden is a must-see, with the famous book sale every second Sunday of the month throughout 2022.

Literature Until 15 December 2022, FREE

Poetry Walk at The Reader in Liverpool

Every Thursday morning you’re invited to join the Poetry Walk with The Reader in Calderstones Park. Get into the great outdoors and escape the everyday, while exploring poetry and making the most of the beautiful surroundings in a safe and socially distanced way.

Roma Havers: LOB
Literature Until 8 October 2022, from £8.00

Roma Havers: LOB at Contact

Poetry meets tennis and live literature meets theatre in LOB, a piece that explores moving through sporting spaces as a queer body, written and performed by Roma Havers, Young Identity alumna and Learning Officer at Manchester Poetry Library.

Festivals 11 October 2022 7:00 pm, from £10.00

Inua Ellams & Yomi Sode at Contact

Inua Ellams and Yomi Sode return to MLF to share work from their acclaimed poetry collections, which take aim at the legacies of the British Empire.

Baby Bear at Z-arts
Families 23 October 2022 10:30 am, from £9.00

Baby Bear at Z-arts

Part of the Manchester Literature Festival, Baby Bear is a nature-inspired show for families.

Literature 30 October 2022 12:30 pm, from £5.00

The World of Independent Publishing at The Constitutional

Part of Ink Slingers: Farsley Literature Festival, Truman Books presents a panel with five highly respected Northern indie publishers to dive beneath the surface of what can be an opaque industry. 

Literature 17 November 2022 4:30 pm, FREE

The Waste Land at Open Eye Gallery

Open Eye Gallery invites you to join in a collective reading of TS Eliot’s seminal long poem The Waste Land, 100 years after it was first published.

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