Birmingham Literature Festival
(formerly Birmingham Book Festival)
Welcome to the Birmingham Literature Festival, the new name for the Birmingham Book Festival. Run by Writing West Midlands, the Festival has been a staple of the city’s autumn calendar for fifteen years. Celebrating the opening of the new Library of Birmingham this year, the Festival has enjoyed a rebrand*, bringing you a new look and a fresh programme.
Submissions for Birmingham Literature Festival 2014 will open in January 2014. Look out for details of how to submit.
What happened at Birmingham Literature Festival 2013?
We had over forty events over ten days (3-12 October), using some of the city’s most interesting venues, including Birmingham Cathedral, Ikon Gallery and of course the wonderful new Library of Birmingham. We were delighted to be working with many partner organisations, including Ikon, Sampad, Four Colman Getty, The Institute of Creative and Critical Writing at Birmingham City University, The Asian Writer Magazine, Birmingham REP, The RSA, The Writers’ Guild, West Midlands Readers’ Network and numerous publishers, both regional and national.
Always in favour of the opportunity to introduce audiences to the voices behind the writing they are enjoying, the Festival remained a platform for this relationship, for taste making and for new work. Through commissions and bespoke projects, the Festival explored the boundaries between traditional and digital formats. We had writers in situ, video interviews and more.
Headline events in the 2013 festival included a celebration of National Poetry Day featuring UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy with Imtiaz Dharker, writers Lionel Shriver, Will Self, Catherine O’Flynn, Jonathan Coe, Germaine Greer, Robert Edric, Amanda Smyth, Jenn Ashworth and Willam Palmer. Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, delivered a specially commissioned lecture and Benjamin Zephaniah gave an ‘urban sermon’ on the subject of multiculturalism. In addition, Daljit Nagra performed extracts from his reworking of the Ramayana, beautifully illustrated by South Asian dance, the first UK Canal Laureate, Jo Bell, hosted poetry sharing events, Stuart Maconie curated and chaired an evening with literary friends and we enjoyed a rehearsed reading of Alan Bennett’s play Denmark Hill.
A Readers’ Afternoon and a new voices in fiction panel introduced us to books that just demand to be read, and world poets from Arc Publications shared a recently translated work. British Asian writers Rosie Dastgir, Sathnam Sanghera and Qaisra Shahraz discussed their experiences living in and writing about British cities.
We also had a series of writing workshops. These included writing horror, getting poetry published, translation, writing historical fact/fiction and productivity for creative writers. There was also the opportunity to meet regional publishers Nine Arches Press, Flarestack Poets and Offa’s Press as they participated in Festival events, and celebrated the launch of a new Tindal Street Fiction Group anthology.
We hope you enjoyed the Festival as much as we did.
For more about our Festival highlights and photographs from the events, click here.
There are two ways to support your literature festival. You can become a Friend of Writing West Midlands and the Birmingham Literature Festival which brings benefits and discounts year round. If you are an organisation or individual interested in a particular event, sponsorship opportunities are available. For full details, see our Sponsorship Menu.
*Why did we change our name?
The Festival was originally started in partnership with a bookshop, at a time when books were genuinely the most popular way of releasing literature. Since then, the landscapes of writing and publishing have changed enormously. Literature is now made and enjoyed through a wide variety of platforms. For many years now the Festival has brought you events that centred around excellent literature in all forms, not just books. This year, to coincide with the new Library of Birmingham and a step change in our programming, we wanted to take the opportunity to give the Festival an updated identity. We hope you like it as much as we do.
The Birmingham Literature Festival is a project of Writing West Midlands. Writing West Midlands is the literature development agency for the region. Charity no. 1147710. Supported by Arts Council England.