Category Archives: Manchester Literature Festival

MLF

I recently volunteered for the Manchester Literature Festival, here are 2 posts.  Check out the site for other people’s reviews of the wealth of literary talent that was on display.

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http://bit.ly/bFPJJ0


MLF: Evolving Words and six by six book launch

Two blogged in one, as I cannot remember that much.images

graphicEvolving Words was worth the trip just for the venue.  The performance took place in Manchester museum’s Animal Life gallery, so above our heads was the giant whale skeleton.

The young performers intertwined Darwin with growing up and cultural identity, I quite enjoyed the merging of Darwin with individuality, but I couldn’t help but edging towards my critical side.

To me it was an enjoyable school play, the group young identity who are in residence at the contact theatre certainly had the guts to perform so all credit to them.

graphicI loved the six by six awards, it was a lovely way for me to round off the festival attending on my own with a glass of free wine and a record bag, seated in the Lord mayor’s Parlour.

It was a fitting tribute to the great project that MMU Cheshire’s Creative writing graduates, and Stockport College’s illustration undergraduates had collaborated on together.  The short story anthology gave me a severe hankering to be back at Salford studying Creative Writing .

The book launch was of a really high standard and gave the students the credit their work deserved. images


MLF: Face to Face with Jimmy McGovern

graphicThis was an event.  An audience with Jimmy McGovern, staged at the Cornerhouse cinema.  McGovern spoke openly about his script writing career and I found out a lot about what works for him as a writer.

Before this event I had forgotten McGovern was responsible for shows such as Cracker and Brookside, I knew only of The Streets, which I have never watched.

He spoke about how undervalued script writers of TV dramas tend to be, and I admit I am first to say I don’t watch telly because of all the crap that’s out there. 

Though it’s easy to sneer TV scripts as being trite and uninspiring, McGovern reminded us all what a hard job it is to write, and in his own case, write well.

imagesHe is such a likeable chap, who has an incredibly responsive way of dealing with the world.  He’s worked hard to get where he has and doesn’t fail to recognise this.  McGovern doesn’t shy away from saying things that some would rather he didn’t, and talks openly about the TV drama he made of the Hillsborough disaster, and how much censorship came into play.

True to his spirit he seems to balance all aspects of himself remarkably, he was intelligent, witty, extremely perceptive and clued up on all aspects of the industry, he spoke honest and openly about his failures and showed us how he felt at the time, nothing screamed falseness about this man.


MLF: Northern Salt

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Ooh this was a great reading, at the beautiful Whitworth Gallery on a Sunday afternoon – perfect.

 

 

First of four, was Robert Graham, reading from his new book of short stories, The Only Living Boy

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I got him confused admittedly, but I really enjoyed his tone and pace.  On looking to get a bit more info about him on the big wide web, I see there are a lot of other Robert Graham’s that I could mistake him for also.  There is a creator of shirts, a poet and politician who is now dead, and a Canadian anarchist and historian

 

 

This is the Robert Graham that wrote the novel Holy Joe and is the co-author of creative handwriting books.  He’s a really lovely chap who grew up around Northern Ireland and is a teacher of creative writing at MMU.  You can check him out, reading at Chorlton Book Festival on Thursday 12th Nov 8pm at Lloyds Hotel. http://ow.ly/vDLy9781844717217cov_W-7%20extra

Next up was Elizabeth Baines, she speaks of a newly precarious world, which I’m not quite grasping as the world surely has always been this way.  However, I really enjoyed her reading from the new novel Too Many magpies.  I am intrigued where the book will go as she plugs a mother, special powers and uncertainty.  Elizabeth is reading locally on Monday 9th November at the Lounge Bar, Wilbraham Road, Chorlton. 7 pm. Free, as part of Chorlton Book fest, and also at Manchester Central Library (2nd Dec)

But if  you happen to be in Prague in January you could see her there.

RecitalThird a funny chap John Siddique, a poet who read from his latest collection Recital – An Almamac explores love and politics throughout a year of lunar cycles. 

His poetry was beautiful at capturing so many different strands of humanity, in an approach which wasn’t candid.

 

 

Last and certainly my favourite, Mark Illis.  He read from his latest work Tender, which is book of linked short stories. tender

He chose to read one from the perspective of a 14-year-old girl, which he portrays realistically and humourously capturing me as a fan. 

Mark surprised me with his gentle nature when he was billed as having written for Emmerdale, Eastenders and The Bill, but his writing was beautiful and so was his delivery.

I’m looking out for another reading, as I went to him in despair afterwards because all his books had sold out, he very kindly recommended I could buy one and send it to him for signing, but I said I will hunt him down.

This has been one of my highlights of the festival, in terms of the venue and quality of the writers.

 


MLF:Crocus Debuts: Maya Chowdhry & Segun Lee French

graphicAt Central Library Committee room these two poets, who are winners of commonwords 30 poems competition, did a Saturday afternoon reading.

Maya Chowdry ticks all the boxes of what allows her to interweave multiple identities, as an asian lesbian, born in Scotland who wears a purple crushed velvet outfit adorned with faux flowers and sporting a flashing coat of arms.

Her poetry tries to interweave the irony of how curry is the number one dish in Britain, and infuses modern culture with its roots, but hearing about curry made in a hurry was not for me.

Segun Lee French combined his written poetry with occasional bursts into song, which I really enjoyed. I would like to see him do just performance poetry, which he said he was better known for.

He spoke of his Nigerian mother giving birth to him and his twin brother, after 3 weeks his twin died and the mother was to care for a doll replacement, as part of the grieving process.  He played with my imagination by telling me his own truths, which really appealed to me.

All in all, I love going to central library to hear poetry, the venue’s ideal and Libby Tempest is just so lovely, I want to be her one day.


MLF:Eoin Colfer And Another Thing

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And Another Thing is the 30th anniversary sequel to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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Eoin Colfer was commissioned to do this book as the sixth of The Hitchhiker’s Guide books, after he was given permission by Douglas’ wife Jane Belson.  Being such a successful author for children, with his Artemis Fowl novels and Airman, he has the potential to give the Hitchhikers to a new generation which in my opinion is great.  Adams had intended to write another more uplifting book that would make 6 books, a better number than 5.

The reading and witty anecdotes of Colfer’s self was staged at the Contact theatre, he was received by a mixed audience, with people like myself who knew nothing about his own work. We went because we were interested in how he was going to handle the task of creating a new book out of such a phenomenally successful story and how he was going to start the novel, when the fifth book ends with the total destruction of earth.

Then there were the kids who were obviously thrilled to be there to see an author they loved, and Colfer did an excellent job of appealing to all.

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He is exceptionally funny, a bit too much so, and I was so impressed by his stamina to write solitary in his shed. I kept thinking of poor Douglas struggling to write and taking long cold baths with cups of tea, I can relate more to that approach.

The book seems to have been done with the utmost respect to Douglas and is a lovely homage done with the right reasons in place. Colfer said he could see that there being more books in the series written after this one but not by him, he’d like to have a different guest writer do each one.

He joked about his love for deadlines, whereas Douglas liked the wooshing sound they made as they went flying past.

The two writers seem to come from very different, albeit hilarious stock.  It was great to hear the enthusiasm Colfer has for books, but like I say the only thing was his enthusiasm and the way he handles everything seemed so good, it made me envy the man.

He told us of a group formed on Facebook that popped up on his status, a campaign to stop And another Thing and a slagging off of Colfer.  In what seems true to this little Irish bundle of joy’s spirit he joined the group and slagged himself off royally, the happy result ahh of course he redeemed himself to the cause.  This guy can do no wrong and if he does it is with spectacular wit.

His new book, due to a faux pas, will now be set under the sea


MLF: Transatlantic Slave Trade

graphicMy initiation to this year’s Manchester Literature festival, in the beautiful committee room of Central library.

Dorethea Smartt read from her new poetry collection Ship Shape, billed as a poet who dismantles cultural myths and ‘the kinda black woman the world ain’t seen yet’. I liked the fact that she was Brixton market’s first poet in residence.

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Taken out of context, I was confused to the background of her poetry as the setting is Lancaster, but she explains how Samboo an African slave was brought over by a sea captain as a present for his wife.  Samboo died within a few days of his arrival and is presumed to be buried at Sunderland point. Smartt imagines Samboo’s journey and paints a picture of migration in past and present terms.  I was left feeling there is so much I do not know. 

Then there was Cynthia.

images Cynthia McLeod a Dutch writer from Suriname, is the author of The free Negress Elisabeth.  Cynthia put 12 years into researching Surinamese history, and paints a wonderful picture of life there.  I want her to come home with me and tell me bed time stories, though I don’t say this to her.

Cynthia spoke about all the different cultures in Suriname that live together in harmony, and how every religion celebrates each feast.  The Surinamese Muslims, she says have the most lavish Christmas decorations, I giggle as she laughs at herself.  Her tone was beautiful and I fell in love with her there and then.

Her first novel ‘How expensive was the sugar?’ sold out in Suriname within a matter of weeks, and in 1987 she became the most famous Surinamese writer.

As for me I had no idea that Suriname even existed, and Cynthia’s telling of her home country was beautiful.  The story of Elisabeth sounds compelling to read with the underlying drive for a free negress with so much wealth trying to gain acceptance of Dutch colonial society by marrying a white man.

This was a great start to the festival and all for zero pence.


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