Birmingham Literature Festival returns to the city this autumn with an exciting line up of novelists, poets, food writers, cartoonists, journalists, philosophers and performers.
The ten-day festival runs from 4th to 14th October, in venues across the city, including the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
Audiences can look forward to journalist and writer Caitlin Moran in conversation with beauty journalist and commentator Sali Hughes, a live broadcast of BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions? with Jonathan Dimbleby, an exclusive preview of novelist Jonathan Coe’s new book, Middle England, and cook and writer Nigel Slater chatting to fellow chef Ravinder Bhogal.
As the festival kicks off on National Poetry Day on Thursday 4 October, local poets Liz Berry, Roy McFarlane and Jane Commane headline the Birmingham celebration of the day, where the new Poet Laureate and Young Poet Laureate for Birmingham will also be announced.
There will be events in Martineau Gardens and Cannon Hill Park on nature writing and urban bird-watching, and you can also board a narrowboat for a special event about canals and waterways which criss-cross the UK.
Performance plays a huge part in this year’s festival, with events which fuse theatre, storytelling and literature, and combine poetry, music and even cooking live on stage. There will also be a chance to explore the darker side of writing with events on Frankenstein, ghost stories and gothic storytelling.
Festival Director Antonia Beck says:
“We are delighted to present 10 days of inspiring, thought-provoking and entertaining events celebrating writing, books and ideas in many forms. Our October festival includes some of the most exciting up and coming writers alongside well-established names, such as leading women’s rights activist Helen Pankhurst, punk legend and memoirist Viv Albertine and an evening with the ‘Godfather of Alternative Comedy’ Alexei Sayle. We hope you feel as excited by this programme as we are.”
For the first time, Festival Director Antonia Beck has also been working with a Guest Curator, The Times journalist and writer Sathnam Sanghera, who wanted to reflect his love and knowledge of the West Midlands (he grew up in Wolverhampton) in the events he has helped create.
Guest Curator Sathnam Sanghera says:
“I drew up a dream list of authors with direct links to the region, emotionally blackmailed them all individually, and I’m delighted that most of them have agreed to come.
“Caitlin Moran is one of Britain’s most successful authors and one of the world’s most influential feminist voices, but for me she’s also one of Wolverhampton’s finest exports.
“Nigel Slater is best known for his work as a TV cook, but I think he is also one of our most brilliant writers. His memoir, Toast, describes a very different Black Country childhood to mine, but the book had a very profound effect on me.
“Finally, Jonathan Coe has, in my view, written some of the best books ever set in the Midlands, and it’s so exciting we’ll get a world-exclusive preview of his latest novel, Middle England, at this event.
"It feels like Birmingham is going through an exciting time in the run up to the Commonwealth Games, and I hope we can show we have a lot to offer culturally as well as sporting-wise."
The Birmingham Literature Festival runs 4-14 October 2018. For tickets and full details of events, see www.birminghamliteraturefestival.org.
For more information, to request images or to arrange an interview, please contact Olivia Chapman on 0121 246 2770 or 0778 605 1892 or Olivia@writingwestmidlands.org.
Notes to editors:
Birmingham Literature Festival was established in 1998 to bring literature to the city and beyond. It is a project of Writing West Midlands, which is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.
Writing West Midlands is the literature development agency for the West Midlands, supporting creative writers and creative writing. It offers support to help writers establish their writing careers. It supports young writers as they develop their interest in creative writing. It runs festivals and events, including the Birmingham Literature Festival and the annual National Writers’ Conference. It exists to champion the West Midlands region as a great place to be a writer.