Jo Shapcott, Red Ladder, Dommy B, Jasper Fforde, Nicolette Jones, the cream of Yorkshire crime writers, Peter Spafford, Richard Ormrod, Juliet Barker, Trio Literati... but why name-drop when you can easily get a good idea of everything that is going to take place by clicking here. Currently, there are still a few small updates, but most things are in place. You can start pencilling messages for yourself into your diary.
We're working on the brochure at the moment: it will be as beautifully comprehensive as ever.
Lemn Sissay MBE is now definitely booked for the next LitFest!
He'll be appearing at Leeds City Academy on Friday 20 March in the evening (you are all invited!) and will also speak at a masterclass for school students at Lawnswood on the same day.
Here is a selection of facts:
He is the author of several books of poetry alongside articles, records, public art and plays. He was an official poet for the London Olympics. His Landmark Poems are installed throughout Manchester and London, in venues such as The Royal Festival Hall and The Olympic Park. He is associate artist at Southbank Centre, patron of The Letterbox CLub and The Reader Organisation and inaugural trustee of World Book Night.
Write this into your new diary now! Tickets available nearer the date.
Sally Bavage writes: Two dynamic teachers at Ralph Thoresby School, Kate
Wolstenholme and Tom Stubbs, have got a great group of young people together in
a poetry club they named Own Your Words. This started earlier this
year and is growing week by week.
They are working towards a poetry slam on 2 April at the
end of the main programme of LitFest 2015: Something Else.
Kate said, “Several of the group took part in the
Ilkley Literature Festival this year, performing at Otley Courthouse alongside pupils from
Leeds Grammar School, Fulneck and Gateways. The group all started off feeling
uncomfortable on stage; it's so brilliant to see those
same pupils transformed into seasoned performers who own the stage
and their words!”
Kate has now secured support
for Own Your Words to go on a week-long residential course for young writers run by the Arvon Foundation. Guests include Tiffany Murray and Marcus Sedgwick,
both established authors of children’s fiction.
Thanks to a grant from the Outer
North West Activities Fund,
negotiated as part of the Headingley LitFest community programme of work with at least eight local schools, next term
there will also be poetry performance coaching available on alternative
Thursdays from 3.05 to 4.30 pm.
Established local poet performers like Michelle Scally Clarke will work with young people in the area who wish to
come along and explore techniques for releasing their inner poet, using Ralph
Thoresby as a hub venue.
of the original members of Own Your Words, Nida Naqvi, is now in year 11 and helps run the class as part
of her Duke of Edinburgh Award. “I
am very grateful for the opportunity to write poetry; it stimulates my creative
mind and helps you grow as a person,” she said. She is a member of Leeds Young
and a fantastic role model for other young people who now “have gained so much
self-knowledge and self-confidence they even volunteer to speak in assemblies.” Emma Blaneagreed,
adding that the poetry sessions
“Are really fun, it gets your imagination going.”
Sally Bavage writes 'I Robot' at Spring Bank. Apologies to Isaac Asimov. Wednesday 3r December, and the assembly hall has
thirty visitors and parents waiting with happy anticipation for the latest in
Headingley LitFest’s poetry assemblies tutored and coached by James Nash, local
writer and poet. “Child: We’ve got someone really important in
the class today. Daddy: Who? The
Prime Minister? An Olympic gold
medallist? Child: No, A
Writer. A Real Writer!”
James Nash with Luke Wrankmore Photo: Sally Bavage
Once again, James had worked
with all of Year 4 on their ideas, initiated by their science work on circuits
and switches, but taken to whole new levels by their originality and perceptive
writing. James: “Think
writing. Find inspiration.” They did, in spades. A robot is certainly Something Else in
their world, and words, shared in front of the whole school.
“I dream of finding another
robot to play with”
“I am building my
“I nip someone’s finger as
an alarm clock”
“I am a very lonely robot, I
don’t have a friend to play with but I’m not a bad robot”
“My magic single eye can
give you a shock”
“I try to fit into your
family but I don’t have any feelings or emotions”
“I am made of enchantment.”
Class teacher Luke
Wrankmore said, “James works so successfully to bring out the creative talent
in all our children.” A sentiment echoed by the deputy
headteacher Amy Houldsworth, who added how delightful it was to “See the whole
class very much inspired.”
one girl, the best bit was “Reading my poem out,” and her parent wrote that she
“was inspired to write independently at home – this is a first! Thank you.”
The many parents there were
fulsome in their praise for the way the work had developed both writing skills
and confidence: “..he [James] has been
inspiring and leading the class for weeks.It seems to me that with his additional leadership all the
students have been particularly engaged in the process, where normally perhaps
the ones with stronger literary skills might engage with activities like this
more than some others.Our
daughter benefited and loved it, and so did we.”
From so many other
expressions of enjoyment, perhaps this parent’s words stand as a testament to
the value of what James produces: “One of the best assemblies I’ve seen at this
school. The children’s poetry was
fantastic. I hope they get to do
And the last word goes to
the children themselves.
Question: What have you
learned in this project? “Poems
are brilliant!” “It increases your
confidence.” “Sharing others’
poems is fun.” “So you can inspire
people with your work.” “You grow
James Nash with Josh Annis-Brown Photo: Sally Bavage
Sally Bavage writes:
Year 5 were once again thrilled to be able to work with
James Nash, as part of the Headingley LitFest community programme of work with
schools, and read out their poems on Something Else to a packed assembly of
classmates, Stage 2 peers, teachers and a throng of parents.
“An amazing opportunity to read out their poems and write
about their feelings,” said Josh Annis-Brown, classteacher. James has done “A fantastic job,” said
headteacher Tarsem Wyatt and cheers rippled round the audience. The
youngsters wrote from a caterpillar’s perspective about metamorphosing into
something else, producing some prosaic truths and some delightful lines of
Think back to when you were nine years old and trying to
hold a microphone at the correct distance to pick up your words as well as your
carefully crafted poem on a sheet of paper. It takes the mastery needed for an adult to drink and eat at
a buffet. But mastery was indeed
on show and delight and pride too in the performances.
“I have learnt how epic James is!” and “The awesome James
Nash “ whilst “Poetry can be fun and if you work hard you can do
anything,” “Being and working with
James” and “I have met, wrote and spoken to a famous poet” were two more of
many highly positive opinions that class 5 offered. “You build up confidence in
yourself,” and “The best thing is sharing my poem with my classmates and
hearing their poems.” Out of the
mouths of …
Not just the babes but parents are equally supportive:
“An excellent opportunity to hear the work of a group of
pupils. The pupils have obviously
been inspired and produced some beautiful pieces of work.”
“Great to see the children perform their poetry as well as
having an insight into what they have been doing in school. I know from my son
that having a ‘real life’ poet has inspired him and encouraged his own writing.
Fabulous, thank you.”
Richard Woolley was founding Head of the Northern School of Film and
Television at Leeds Metropolitan University (now Leeds Beckett University) as
well as founding Dean of Film and TV at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing
Arts, all part of an illustrious CV. You could describe him as a musician and
composer. Or filmmaker. Or scriptwriter. Morphing into a serious novelist. Speaking at a LitFest 'Between the Lines' event in the intimate surroundings of the Heart centre's café yesterday evening, he told his audience that he was first set thinking about
the premise for this novel after watching Chris Patten in tears on the eve of
the handover of Hong Kong, a place where the British tried out political,
social and economic experiments which disturbed the watching Chinese. And still disturb the present Hong Kong
imaginative teller of tales has written his third novel, Sekabo, strongly
influenced by close to two decades living in Leeds and a decade living in Hong
Kong. It has two time frames –
1990 and 2097 – and two key locations – England and Sekabo. It has two parallel plots that
gradually interweave in sometimes expected, sometimes surprising ways, leaving
you uncertain as to your powers of prediction. Plots and sub-plots abound in a tale that is as much about
entertaining contexts as it is about the fates of our heroine and hero.
Cover graphics designed by Daniel Reeve
The book is
a lively “mix of research, imagination and personal experience”, clearly
written by a writer employing strong visual imagery; it intercuts the plotting to
maintain the suspense with the immersion in another timeframe. Vonnegut undertones and many subliminal
sci-fi references fuse into a book that really is Something Else.
to be surprised, drawn in, perhaps slightly shocked - there are a few raunchy
episodes. Most of all, enjoy the
many references to local places around the North Yorkshire Moors. You have probably walked there. Prescient comparisons - political,
social and technical - are referenced more obliquely but give many pauses for
wry thought. Utopia on
denouement?Ah, you’ll have to buy
the book - or download it to an early prototype reading device that by 2097
will be viewed as a museum piece.