Monthly Archives: August 2011

Poet: Liz Bentley

Liz Bentley is a writer, poet, comedian, host, programmer, musician, mother, therapist, insomniac and brilliant. On going into psychotherapy after experiencing bulimia, drugs, abuse and MS, she discovered her creative side. She now works as a therapist in Southwark and lives in Peckham with her two children.

She’s performed at the Southbank Centre and the Edinburgh Festival, has written a couple of books (Tales in the Deep End and £500 a Line and Other Poems) and you can catch her full-length show Crash Bash Trash around town at the moment (notably The Albany in Deptford on 17th November).

Here’s a few minutes of her being laugh out loud funny at weekly stand-up poetry night Bang Said the Gun:

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Poet: Janett Plummer

As well as being a highly regarded performance poet with Apples and Snakes, among others, and winner of multiple SLAM contests, Janett is a prime mover behind the Festival’s poetry competition for young people.

That’s not surprising, since she’s already founder of Inspired Word, a charitable organisation for survivors, to promote poetry’s therapeutic qualities (appearing at Manor House Library on Tuesday 13th September) and Aspire Creativity, which delivers training, workshops and consultancy on poetry, arts, diversity and performance skills for children and adults.

Her work features in anthologies including Red (Peepal Tree Press), A storm between fingers (Flipped Eye) and Handmade Fire (Mouthmark Press) and her debut solo work is lifemarks (Flipped Eye).

This is a brief glimpse of her performing, but you’ll be able to see much more at the poetry night on Thursday 15th September:

The poetry night takes place at St Swithun’s church hall. Have a look at our events page to find out more.

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Children’s event: Sally Reeve Edwards

Go with your under 5s to Torridon Road Library for 11.30am on 10th September for a songs and rhymes session with Sally Reeve Edwards.

Sally is a trained actor who started teaching music when her children were tiny and loved it. She now teaches preschool music across the borough, in community centres such as the Limelight Family Learning Centre and in private nurseries and birthday parties. Using puppets, instruments, a parachute and LOTS of bubbles, the session will have some familiar nursery rhymes, fingerplays and songs, some funky music to boogie too and a Bear Hunt.

See the events page for more information on this and everything else happening at the Festival.

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Festival guest: Lee Rourke

A bit like his fellow event guest Joe Dunthorne, Lee Rourke is a man not content to stick to one form of writing. He’s best known for his debut novel The Canal – we’re diving into it this weekend (book, not water. Genuinely didn’t see the pun until we read this back) – which won the Guardian’s “Not The Booker Prize” in 2010 and has been one of the year’s word-of-mouth hits.

However, his first published book was a collection of short stories (Everyday) and next month sees the release of the non-fiction A Brief History of Fables. He’s written articles for the New Statesman, Guardian and Independent and is Contributing Editor at 3:AM Magazine.

The Canal and Everyday focus on one of Lee’s pet fascinations – boredom – so for the time being we’ll leave you with him chatting about that.

(Or if that doesn’t float your boat, how about him talking about pigeons? Warning: contains a swear.)

Lee Rourke and Joe Dunthorne appear at St Swithun’s on Sunday 11th September. See the events page for more information.

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There’s nothing quite like spending a morning handing out flyers at your local train station, saying “literary festival?” a thousand times in the same way that Michael Palin said “crucifixion?” in Life of Brian.

Maybe we’ll get rid of more leaflets next time if we channel Eddie Izzard’s Cake or Death?

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Book Swap guest: John Harding

It feels like about a billion years since we first told you about the Firestation Book Swap, opening the Festival. (OK, it probably doesn’t seem that long ago to you, but we’re working on a new theory that time stretches when you’re filling in all the forms needed to run an 8 day event.)

The Book Swap has two hosts – in our case, Scott Pack and Robert Hudson – and two guest authors. We’ve already told you about Evie Wyld, so now let us introduce you to John Harding.

Actually, he might not need introducing. His first novel, What We Did on Our Holiday, was a bestseller and became a one-off film on ITV with Pauline Collins and Roger Lloyd-Pack. His most recent, Florence and Giles, is narrated by a 12 year old girl at the end of the 19th century, living in a crumbling mansion, who’s convinced their new governess is bent upon doing harm. It’s regularly compared to Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, and here’s John reading from the start of the book:

In between these books came One Big Damn Puzzler, about an elderly South Pacific tribesman trying to translate Hamlet and an American lawyer with OCD; and While the Sun Shines, a tragi-comedy about a man whose life is spiralling out of control. We reckon that’s a wide enough choice to suit most people!

This isn’t our final word on the Book Swap – we’ll be blogging more about it soon…

The Firestation Book Swap comes on tour to St Swithun’s on Friday 9th September – read more on the events page.

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Poet: Jacob Sam-La Rose

Jacob has a very impressive CV (we’re kind of nervous about meeting him, even though he’s lovely). He’s developed poetry and performance programmes with the British Council, National Theatre, Roundhouse, Apples and Snakes, Tate Britain and more – including the Barbican, where he nurtured the Barbican Young Poets (head to St Swithun’s for lunchtime on Sunday 11th and you can see some of his protégés in action).

His work has been published in various anthologies and he’s got two collections of his own work: Communion, published in 2006, and Breaking Silence, due out in October.

But the best way to appreciate poets is to see them in action…

Jacob performs at the poetry night on Thursday 15th September. See the events page for more detail and online booking.

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Event: For Books’ Sake presents Karen Mcleod and Ellen Lindner

There are so many great people hosting events at the Festival (Firestation Book Swap, Skeptics in the Pub, Tall Tales) that it seems like an embarrassment of riches to mention another. We’re not embarrassed about literary riches around here, though; so we’re chuffed to say that For Books’ Sake have put together a cracking event.

FBS is a website featuring books by and for independent women, with writing by iconic and upcoming women authors, plus news, reviews and interviews. Media coverage of books and literary prizes are heavily skewed towards male writers – FBS aims to give women writers a platform.

Karen Mcleod is a Penge girl and writer-in-residence at Crystal Palace’s Bookseller Crow on the Hill. Her debut novel, In Search of the Missing Eyelash, gets under the skin of heartbreak in all its painful, grim, bitterly funny detail; she’s also a former air cabin crew member and current performance artist. And her Twitter avatar is brilliant. Plenty to talk about then…

Ellen Lindner is an American (now based in New Cross) cartoonist, writer and illustrator. She published her first graphic novel, Undertow, in 2009 and has had work featured in all kinds of publications. She’ll be taking us through some of her comics at the Festival as well as chatting about her work.

For Books’ Sake editor Jane Bradley is hosting this event, but there’ll be a chance to ask your own questions, too.

This event takes place on Saturday 10th September at 7pm, at St Swithun’s church hall. Entry: £4. Get information about all Festival events.

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Event: Ambit, Smoke and Mustard magazines

It’s not all books, books, books. We’ve put together a panel of representatives from three excellent independent magazines, who’ll be chatting about what made them dive headfirst into publishing, the highs and the absolute hells, some of the best (and worst) contributions and a few cracking anecdotes.

Alex Musson is the brain behind Mustard, an independent comedy mag filled with new comedy material and interviews with some huge names, including Graham Linehan (Father Ted, The IT Crowd), Michael Palin, Stewart Lee and Richard Herring. People who love comedy rave about Mustard – even comedians write for it.

Smoke is one of those magazines that, when you mention it in certain circles, people’s eyes tend to light up. Finding a new copy was always a highlight (You Don’t Bring Me Flowers used to stock it) but last year it went on hiatus; there was a palpable flurry of online excitement last week when editor Matt Haynes announced it was still breathing. A must-see event for anyone who wants to know ‘what’s next’ for Smoke.

Ambit started life over forty years ago and is still going strong, publishing original short stories, poetry and artwork. While it generally consists of new, unpublished writers, well-known names to have contributed include Carol Ann Duffy, JG Ballard and David Hockney. They also run regular free literary events. We’ll be joined either by Ambit’s founder Dr Martin Bax or one of Ambit’s current editors.

One Eye Grey – the 21st century penny dreadful – is on the posters for this event, but sadly they’ve had to withdraw for various reasons.

This event is happening on Saturday 10th September at 5pm; see the events page for more detail and online booking.


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Festival event: Inspired Word, Conversations with Sisters

The lovely people at Manor House library have got together with the lovely people from the local creative writing collective Inspired Word to put on a performance of their recent work.

Contributions come from Akilah Moseley, Sophia Wilson, Lucreta la Pierre, Jaki Thomas and Karen Small.

Sophia Wilson is a prolific writer and performer.  She facilitates creativity workshops and story telling to the young and not so young.  She is the chairperson of Inspired Word, a women’s writing collective in Lewisham.

Akilah Moseley is a trainer, executive coach, leadership mentor and emerging writer and poet.  Since 2007 she has been an active member of the Ispired Word  poetry collective.  Akilah has performed her poetry widely across London.  Her first anthology Thoughts from a Reasoning Mind, was compiled in 2008.  Her work has also appeared in the 2009 Inspired Word anthology Sharing Space.  Most recently Akilah collaborated with seven other authors in writing I Factor for women (2010).

Lucreta La Pierre loves writing poetry and is especially fond of writing Creole based poetry.  She started writing poetry in 2007, following a workshop on the slave trade, when she wrote her first poem Ancestors.  She was awarded an MBE in 2004 for voluntary services in Lewisham and further afield. La Pierre has also had some work published recently.

This event takes place on Tuesday 13th September at 7pm. See the events page for the full Festival programme.


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