Tuesday, 16 December 2008

An Domhan eile

And here's another addition:

Using their unique Celtic blend of poetry, music and song Lucht Focail (the award winning Irish writers’ group) explores Irish myth and legend. This will be at The Bowery on the corner of Shaw Lane on the evening of Saturday 21 March. It's in association with Irish History Month 2009. The title An Domhan eile means The Other Earth or The Other World.

Gurning in the library

Latest addition to the LitFest programme - for the morning of Saturday 21 March - are The Blahs. They are based at the West Park Centre in Spen Lane, which is near enough to Headingley. This is what they say about themselves:

We are a group of theatre makers who are on a quest to find stories which resonate and have meaning for us and our audiences. We know that the longer we live with a story the more it can reveal about ourselves and the world. By taking our time to explore stories with our audience we have come to understand how to engage with children and adolescents.

Their show, for five and six year-olds, will be in Headingley library. Title is When the Wind Changed……

Blahs director Pavla Beier sends the following on it:

We will make this story up with the children by tapping into their natural ability and desire to make faces, a skill which is known to professionals like us as GURNING. We will make up the story together step by step or gurn by gurn:

> a face to frighten your own reflection
> a face which is all smiles
> a face which has never been seen in these parts before

But the story really begins when the wind starts to blow, the one that sweeps through the City about this time of year, the one that can stick your face if you happen to be gurning at the time. What happens to our person whose face is stuck? We will make that bit up with the children using participative drama techniques.

Two performances, 10.30 - 11am and 11.30 - 12. Maximum number in each session twenty.

Below, the performers:

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Headingley Life Calendar

Thanks to Headingley Life - in particular, to Carole Carey-Campbell, for putting in the key weekends (crucial weekends? crux weekends? focus weekends?) for the Headingley LitFest. So, if you flip through this handsome beast of a calendar, you will be able to poke your finger at our name printed on March 21 and March 28.

At the moment, amongst others, we have Ian Clayton down for the first date and Beryl Bainbridge for the second.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Magazine Week at Borders

This Thursday - October 2 - issue 42 of The North will be launched in the Leeds branch of Borders as part of Magazine Week. There will be a day of writers' workshops and poetry readings. We're telling you this because if you are reading this, having come to the blog to find out about local happenings, you're sure to be interested. Borders is just down the road a little from Headingley, after all.

Peter and Ann Sansom, editors of The North- and directors of The Poetry Business- will be running two writing workshops during the day - just bring a pen - and there’ll be entertaining short readings in the evening. The workshops are at 12.30-1.30pm and 5.30-6.30pm. The readings by brilliant North poets Rosie Blagg, Kath McKay and Ed Reiss are at 7 - 8pm. There will also be magazine readings from the floor, so bring a poem or back issue of the North to read from.

Free entry and free wine - and, in line with the nationwide Borders magazine promotion, copies of the magazine will be 'Buy one get one half price'.

Click HERE for Poetry Business or ring 0114 3464038 if you want to know the fine details.

OR, look at what Rony Robinson from Radio Sheffield said about it all by clicking HERE.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Bringing it all back home

Richard Wilcocks writes:

Latest news is that Ian Clayton has been signed up for a talk and a workshop on Saturday 21 March 2009.  Ian is usually described as a "writer and broadcaster", but he is surely a lot more than just that. I think of him as a terrific raconteur after hearing him holding forth on the Luddites and reading from various chapters in Charlotte Brontë's Shirley in a hotel restaurant in Gomersal a couple of years ago. He created a fair amount of sympathy in his audience for those machine-breakers of a couple of centuries ago, often crudely depicted as mindless thugs, and spoke movingly  about his Featherstone childhood too.

He didn't read all that much out of Shirley, a good thing because he is at his best when simply holding forth. The book he will deal with next March is Bringing It All Back Home (Route Publishing, 2007 (Hardback) ISBN 978-1901927337 (Paperback) ISBN 978-1901927351). It is all about popular music, so it is quite likely that some popular musicians will be around at the same time Ian is talking.

It is also quite likely that the venue for all this (and a preliminary workshop) will be the Banqueting Suite at Headingley Stadium, and that an as yet unspecified sports personality will be on the bill as well.

Thanks to Mary Francis for contacting Ian.

Below, Ian and his book cover:

Wednesday, 24 September 2008


The wines went down well after being expertly tasted at the Bowery, Bassa Bassa was thrilling at the Supporters Club and the sun shone down on the annual al fresco barbecue at the New Headingley Club. Partners were happily taken during the ceilidh and most Headingley restaurants offered set meals for a tenner. Last Sunday came the finale, accompanied by fine weather: hundreds milled about in the Cardigan Triangle (mainly Chapel Lane), sat around eating home-made courgette cakes in an impromptu cafe in a back garden and tramped into each other's houses to look at works of art.

It was Celebrate Headingley - a superb eighth one. And although the Headingley LitFest was not on everyone's lips, because it is next year, in March, it was certainly talked about. "There's a real thirst for that sort of thing," I was told at the barbecue. Below, some of the more musical celebrants:

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Have we got news for you!

Richard Wilcocks writes:

A packed out, slightly steamy Café Lento last night heard most of the details of the line-up for the LitFest 'proper' in March 2009 - but you, dear readers, must be a little tantalised. This is because we are saving our official news releases until after the summer, probably at around the time when Celebrate Headingley will be in full swing, in September.

This is when citizens listen to music, eat and drink in the open air outside the New Headingley Club and tap dance on table tops. It's a good time to talk about the events in store for them in the following spring. For now, let it be known that there will be a link with Leeds Rugby, that Bob Barnard will be returning to talk about crime fiction, that there will be something for very young children and that another Poetry Slam will take place. In addition, there will be big names - very big names.........

The Big Summer short story evening at the Lento went extremely well, I thought, judging from audience comments, but then I am biased because I was one of the contributors. Ted Marriott delivered an enthrallingly spooky story about a man who became a nobody, mine involved a tourist from Whitby who listened to vampire stories in Croatia and Doug Sandle read a story set on the Isle of Man from a published anthology. John Jones spoke to us from a tape - really interesting reminiscences from his autobiography - we travelled from London to Buenos Aires to Leeds.

Richard Lindley, the owner, a natural compere, made sure everything went smoothly and that all wheels were lubricated. He reckons he'll do it all again soon - that is before and during the LitFest proper. Improper too, maybe.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Rory McTurk

Headingley resident Rory McTurk has agreed to speak at the next Headingley LitFest in March 2009. He is Emeritus Professor of Icelandic Studies at Leeds University and a recent recipient (2007) of the Order of the Falcon (Hin íslenska fálkaorða) which is awarded by the Icelandic government for outstanding achievement.

The focus of his talk will not be particularly academic, he says. The subject (and the exact date and venue) have yet to be fixed, but it might be something to do with the Vikings in Yorkshire – their stories, their poetry, literary shenanigans at the court of Erik Bloodaxe, something like that – or it might have something to do with the Sagas

We shall see, but be assured that a treat is in store for us: perhaps hawk-sharp observations on part of our local history, insights into the literature of a millennium ago or news of the scene in modern Reykyavik.....

Tuesday, 17 June 2008


Keep it bubbling. That's the expression. Let's keep it bubbling. The LitFest will take place in March 2009 - last two weeks. Lots of stuff in the pipeline......Beryl Bainbridge says she wants to come (she spoke to Richard Wilcocks after a reading in Haworth recently).....Colm Toibin has been invited but hasn't replied yet.....Bob Barnard (crime writer as well as Brontë expert) will definitely come, with a talk entitled 'Making Crime Pay' (he used that title when he toured prisons in an educational capacity) and there will be puppets for the very young......all still in transit but will exit into the real world soon.

In the meantime, the bubbles. On Wednesday 16 July at Café Lento on North Lane at 7pm (come early to avoid squeezing in at the last moment) there will be an INTERIM EVENT entitled BIG SUMMER.

That should cover most things....horror....romance....politics....humour....and it will be a SHORT STORY EVENING. These tend to take up a lot more time than snappy poems, so the audience is expected to be sober and patient. Patient anyway. Plenty of coffee.

Ted Marriott and Richard Wilcocks (me) are the booked readers of their short stories. If you have got one, you'll be better off telling people beforehand - contact the blog or come into the cafe to chat with Richard Lindley. It's all free.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

A modest proposal

Doug Sandle writes:

Leeds Rugby Arts Steering Group and Headingley LitFest 2009

Proposal for Creative Writing Competition as a partnership project between the Rugby Arts Steering Group (Leeds Rugby Foundation) and the Headingley LitFest.

As part of its future programme, the Rugby Arts Steering Group has earmarked a creative writing competition as a possible event to be organised in the 2009 season*. The intention was to promote a creative writing competition among the fans and general rugby constituency, which might feature children’s and adult categories and be open to submissions in poetry, short story , short film script, or a personal account / reminiscence on the theme of rugby.

While details have not been finalised the competition could concern both rugby codes and the two clubs, Leeds Rhinos and Leeds Carnegie. It was also envisaged that this proposal would facilitate some education / community work around creative writing, particularly given the facilities and experience of the Leeds Rugby Foundation’s educational work and also given that the Director of Leeds Arts Forms (Education Leeds) is a member of the Rugby Arts Steering Group.

Given the further development of the Headingley LitFest and its plans for a second event during the spring of 2009, there is an obvious opportunity for a cooperative partnership among the Rugby Arts Steering Group, the Leeds Rugby Foundation and the Headingley LitFest to incorporate the Rugby Creative Writing Competition into the festival, with mutual benefit.

Promoted as part of the Headingley LitFest, the work of the Rugby Arts Steering Group would have greater reach and contact with the local area and community, while the HLF would have the opportunity to reach the many thousands of people that are associated with Leeds Rugby and its activities. There is also potential opportunity for greater publicity and marketing for the festival through the involvement of the marketing and PR arm of Leeds Rugby. The close partnership association between Leeds Metropolitan University and Leeds Rugby would also potentially enable the project to reach out to many of the local Leeds student population. The possibility of using the stadium as a venue for some of the festival’s events is also seen as a potential benefit to both organisations.

It is proposed that initial discussion should take place involving Richard Wilcocks (Representative HLF), Doug Sandle (Chair LRASG) and Chris Rostron, (Manager of the Leeds Rugby Foundation), and then formal proposals discussed by the respective committees.


*Successful projects so far have been commissioning the composer Carl Davis to create a (7 minute) orchestral anthem to the Leeds Rhinos (Hold On), sponsored by Leeds Met, which has been recorded by the Orchestra of Opera North, a one year artist in residence project supported by the Arts Council of England, Yorkshire, and the ongoing commissioning and production of a contemporary dance to the music of Hold On.

Below, Doug Sandle (photo by James Heartfield) at a Leeds Met symposium:

Monday, 12 May 2008

Put it in your diary

Don't forget the meeting next Tuesday (20 May) from 7.30pm at the New Headingley Club in St Michael's Road. It will be an informal mingle rather than a meeting, beginning in the bar area.

Your suggestions, comments and involvement will be welcome. Use the email on the right as well, clearly marking your message LITFEST so that it is not deleted along with all those spammers who have secret bank accounts in Nigeria.

Best wishes from Richard Wilcocks

Monday, 21 April 2008

Raw Inquest

Blog readers are very likely to be interested in this event at Seven. Here is the flyer.

Michelle Scally Clarke proudly presents: Raw Inquest

A tribute to Daniel Nelson by Michelle Scally Clarke working alongside the Bassment Poets collective.

Special guests on the night:

Sula Jules

Music by George and the Champion Swimmers

Open mic spot

Venue: Seven Arts Space 31a Harrogate Road Chapel Allerton
Date: 8th May
Time: Doors open 7.30pm
Ticket prices: Entry £7 (£5 Concessions & Pre-booking)
For further information please contact:info@sevenleeds.co.uk

Daniel Nelson, my nephew, died in prison aged 18. He was on remand for allegedly dealing drugs: three weeks and six suicide attempts later, he was found dead in his cell.

My family learned of Daniel's death from Sky News on 20 September 2005. Daniel went into prison a confident young man. Three weeks later he was a shadow of his former self. Toxicology reports showed that he was clean - apart from the psychotic drugs fed to him in prison.

Raw Inquest is my family's story. It describes the failings of the justice system and uncovers the scab of negligence that affects children and whole families who have been placed in the care system. This is our inquest, the forgotten story.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Any suggestions?

The small committee which got the wheels rolling for the first LitFest met recently. It was agreed that all went well and that there should be a second LitFest at about the same time of year in 2009 - no exact dates yet.

We are now 'looking at possibilities' - noting what other festivals do and finding out who might be available and affordable. A novelist? More for children? What do you think?

Please get in touch with your suggestions, for example through the email address on the right. Put LITFEST in the subject line so it is easily distinguishable from the spam. You don't even have to be a Headingley resident to give us advice.

There will be an open meeting at the New Headingley Club in St Michael's Road on Tuesday 20 May at 7.30pm.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Dave is Duncan

David Robertson has moved on from Captain Speedy (see below) to become King Duncan with Opera North. Full story is here.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Alamayou and Arthur

Richard Wilcocks writes:

Its rare - and perhaps unwise - to try and stage a piece that's written for radio. But the style, scope and subject matter of Peter's play made us risk the attempt.
That's a quote from the programme for I was a stranger by Peter Spafford, the first of the double bill from Theatre of the Dales which was performed on Saturday and Sunday evenings in the studio at the Yorkshire College of Music and Drama in Shire Oak Road. The studio was full to overflowing on both occasions. The programme continues:

We hope you'll enjoy this curious hybrid, where actors carry scripts as in a broadcast, at the same time as telling the story visually.

We did enjoy it. We loved it. During the post-performance discussion yesterday (Sunday) the director, David Robertson, who also played Captain Speedy, seemed a little uneasy, wondering whether the show had really worked, because actors wandering about with scripts was unusual, like a rehearsal.

If he was fishing for compliments, he caught fat trout, glistening and beautiful. The play is the story of Prince Alamayou of Abyssinia, captured at the age of seven as a kind of afterthought after the British had defeated his father, King Tewedros, and indulged in extensive looting of ancient treasures. The play traces his journey from Africa to India to Rugby School to Sandhurst to Headingley, where he lived with Cyril Ransome, father of Arthur.

The play has plenty of local references, of course. Alamayou, in search of his lost identity and breathing industrial air, walks about in Headingley in the middle of the night, which is not really advisable even today unless you are with friends and dressed as a bumblebee. He visits the menagerie in the zoological gardens, the very solid wall of which can still be seen in Chapel Lane, and he is holed up in Hollin Lane, which is very much still there, just a little changed since the time when a prince was dying of pneumonia, bombarded by telegrams from Queen Victoria, deeply concerned about the impending death of one of her little pets, a pretty black boy with a winning smile.

Jamal Rahman was a superb Alamayou. He's in the foreground of the photo below watched by - not in this order - Danny and Jessica Neale, Arif Javid, David Robertson, Jane Oakshott, Maggie Mash, Richard Rastall and Stuart Fortey.

Stuart Fortey was in his own short play, Duffers, which followed, playing Cyril Ransome, as he had in the previous one. It illustrated this 1930 quote on Swallows and Amazons from Arthur Ransome:

The children in it have no firm dividing line between make-believe and reality, but slip in and out again and again, exactly as I had done when I was a child and I fancy we all of us do in grown-up life.....In a way we were making the best of both worlds.
Stuart was playing dead when he was on stage looming behind David Robertson's entirely convincing Arthur on the banks of a Cumbrian river, a black-tied spectre with a sour voice. Jessica Neale playing Ransome's rather neglected daughter Tabitha is, incredibly, still at school - Notre Dame Sixth Form College - where she is doing Theatre Studies. She was terrific. We'll be hearing more about her in the future.

The Arthur Ransome Society was represented by Margaret and Joe Ratcliffe (that's them down below) who came with relevant books and who contributed to the discussion afterwards.

So, an excellent last evening of the LitFest. We've not really finished though.

                                                 Photo by Richard Wilcocks

                                               Photo by Richard Wilcocks

Underground poetry

The trouble with poetry in cafés is the noises off - in this case a mildly irritating air conditioning unit and (for a few minutes) a vacuum cleaner upstairs. It didn't really matter, though. We were warm.

James Nash is such a kind and amiable compere that everyone present ended up feeling kind and amiable too. The Sunday afternoon session began with James reading a few of his best-known published pieces and that set the tone for the next two hours.

He made humorous references to timings, threatening to gag performers who strayed past the five minute limit with his own hand. It worked. This must be the most worrying thing about being a poetry compere - people just going on and on indulgently. Well they didn't. In one or two cases, the audience would have loved them to go on and on, but they stuck to the limits. James's yoke is easy.

As in the Café Lento the previous day, it was little things, small incidents, large musings. There seemed to be more published volumes about - slim tomes lovingly produced. The poets' places of origin seemed more important as well......Belfast, South Carolina, Liverpool......formative influences. Now here they all were in a cellar in Headingley.

"We should do this more often," was heard as a happy audience, pogged-out on poetry, climbed the stairs to brave the cold wind outside. We should.

Below, James Nash, Sheila Chapman from Irish poets' group Lucht Focail, the audience.

A piacere

Saturday evening in Café Lento. Closed sign on the door. Twenty nine sundry poetic souls packed inside. Through the steamy window, a typical Saturday street for Headingley: passing cars, a siren, the odd scream of laughter, two girls dressed as bumblebees...

Richard Lindley, who runs the café, runs the poetry, and it's a little bit like a Quaker meeting, with people standing to read as the spirit moves them and as Richard beckons (mostly they read, but one of them quotes from the Hebrew scriptures which are in her head) and everyone else glowing with encouragement and appreciation. Richard is gentle but businesslike.

He dispenses free coffee and quiz papers (where do these lines come from and so on) for the interval. He chats and jokes with everyone. He's in a long line of literary hosts stretching back to the one at the Tabard in Southwark. Cafés, he knows, go well with poetry. Short stories too - but that's for the future.

The poems are usually very personal (no surprise), and often have a focus on small incidents, tiny happenings with great significance. Start with the cosmos and you'll fall like a brick. Start with a brick and you'll end up with the cosmos.

Below, Cosmos:

Saturday, 15 March 2008

The Brontës and their circles

Robert Barnard gave a talk entitled People the Brontës Knew this afternoon, to a large and appreciative audience sitting at tables in the New Headingley Club, fortified with home-made cake and Yorkshire tea. It was connected to A Brontë Encyclopedia: the indefinite article signifying academic modesty is officially favoured, but this major (definitive?)work (published a few months ago) should soon be up there with the likes of Juliet Barker's The Brontës. Up there with Clement Shorter too.

Magazine editor Shorter produced
Charlotte Brontë and her Circle in the 1890s, and it was his title which provided Dr Barnard with the talk's structure. "Some might think that she didn't have a circle....but everyone has one....although you would be hard-pressed to find one for Emily.

"I am going to talk about two or three circles. The first is the one which Patrick and Maria gathered around themselves at Thornton."

Thornton was described as a place where the gentry (which included the clergy) was "not really impressive" but where it was more numerous than in Haworth. Thanks to Miss Elizabeth Firth of Kipping House, who welcomed the Brontës there in 1815, we know about most of the social engagements of the time. Less than three months after Maria's death, "Patrick contacted Elizabeth, then aged about twenty-one, and must have proposed marriage, because she records that she wrote back to him telling him that it was her last letter to him."

She probably considered him to be of too lowly an origin. And he was Irish, too: "Attitudes to the Irish were perhaps a little similar to some present-day attitudes to groups like the Poles.....It was not usual for people of a humble Irish origin to espouse English conservatism."

Quoting from Dudley Green's
The Letters of the Reverend Patrick Brontë, Dr Barnard showed how Patrick, "although he cringed to the gentry he met at Thornton", and although he wrote that "a warmer or truer friend to Church and State" could not be found, nevertheless found himself bound to "advocate the cause of temperate reform".

The end of Patrick's association with "extreme conservatism" and the Thornton Circle was marked by his letter to Dr Outhwaite of 20 September 1844:

I thank You for your Laconic Letter - I will try to abide by your - prescription for in good sooth, I have much need of patience, especially, when under affliction, such as may arise from Old Age, and Old Friends. - But that God to whom you refer, will judge You and [me], on the day of Doom, when we shall be more on a Level than we are now are - You have in times past done me [and mine]good for which I shall ever be thankful, whatever you now do, or may do, in time to come -

I remain, Sir
Your most obedient Servant, P. Brontë

The second group of people which Dr Barnard selected was the clergy - part of Charlotte's circle. "We can guess her opinions from reading the opening chapter of
Shirley in which clergymen are ridiculed." Clergymen were the only ones who could be regarded as matrimonial prospects, and Charlotte did not think much of most of them - for example the one who absconded with charity money (Smith), the one with profligate habits (Collins) who was physically cruel to his wife and children, infecting her with syphilis, and her father's close friend William Morgan, referred to as a boring "fat Welshman", and whose visits she detested.

"For Charlotte, the majority of clergymen were stupid and mediocre, with few prospects. All they did was to pass the time between meals quarreling. They lacked any zest for life.

"So what an eruption of vigour it must have been when William Weightman arrived! He was exceptionally lively and outgoing, with a wonderful warmth emanating from him......such a contrast with her brother Branwell, always looking in on himself.....Weightman had a sense of love, of humanity.....all the Brontës were in love with him.....he sent them all Valentines, including Ellen Nussey."

The third circle selected was Charlotte's society of her equals. "This was the sort of society which she had been aiming for all her life. The evidence is in the Juvenilia, which is full of literary controversies."

Most of the members of this circle were connected with London, a place of "venomous literary quarrels" which Charlotte had long been aware of before her visits. She knew about disputes surrounding MacPherson (alleged Ossian translator) and Byron, and the vicious denigration of John Keats and Leigh Hunt in Blackwoods magazine ("the Cockney School of English Poets"), so she was well-primed when she met a collection of in-the-flesh critics at a dinner organised by George Smith. She found, unsurprisingly, that critics were more presumptuous and domineering than the actual writers.

In London, she met people she would never have been allowed to see previously, and her attitudes and opinions were suitably amended. Thackeray "fell off his plinth" after her earlier infatuation with him. She became disillusioned with him "and his duchesses". She also stayed in Ambleside with Harriet Martineau - an atheist. "Of course she was lucky to have such friends and guides as George Smith and W S Williams."

"I cut down on the Juvenilia in the Encyclopedia. Some characters are referred to only fleetingly, and they are all covered by Christine Alexander."

Here are the details if you (or your library) want a copy.

Europe / Rest of World £55.00
Australia / New Zealand A$198.00
ISBN13: 9781405151191
ISBN10: 1405151196

Publication Dates

USA: Aug 2007
Rest of World: Jul 2007
Australia: Sep 2007

Format : 246 x 171 mm , 6.75 x 9.75 in

Details : 416 pages, 50 illustrations.

Robert and Louise Barnard's A Brontë Encyclopedia is an A- Z encyclopedia of the most notable literary family of the 19th century highlighting original literary insights and the significant people and places that influenced the Brontes' lives.
• Comprises approximately 2,000 alphabetically arranged entries
• Defines and describes the Brontes' fictional characters and settings
• Incorporates original literary judgements and analyses of characters and motives
• Includes coverage of Charlotte's unfinished novels and her and Branwell's juvenile writings
• Features over 60 illustrations

Friday, 14 March 2008

Another great evening

Another packed audience at the library, this time including a number of children......all the spare seats were in use.

Joe Williams in role as Olaudah Equiano made a deep impression as he related his amazing life story, and Janet Douglas proved to be a walking encyclopedia as she talked about the composition of anti-slavery societies and the visit to Leeds of Harriet Beecher Stowe, who called in at the grand house in Headingley of Edward Baines, editor of the Leeds Mercury.

The interest and involvement of the audience in the question and answer sessions was evidence, if it was needed, of the great success of the evening.

Below, Janet and Joe:

Thursday, 13 March 2008

These children can fly!

About three hundred people – students, parents, friends, visitors – were in the main hall of Lawnswood School this evening (Thursday 13 March) for the school’s first Poetry Slam.

It was also the first one in the short history of the Headingley LitFest, which promoted the event.

A Slam is a sort of competition, but it’s a lot more than that. It’s a loud, musical, happy and infectiously fervent happening, where individuals and groups – in this case young students – can display their talents and build up their confidence.

The Slammers, 12 and 13 year-olds from Lawnswood’s Year 8, had been encouraged, stimulated and nurtured by performance poet Michelle Scally-Clarke in a series of rehearsals. She performed herself, all too briefly, in the second half of the show.

At the beginning, she was introduced by the main organising teacher, Amanda Stevenson, along with the school's Senior Dancers, who set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Performances were mostly well-rehearsed and fluent, and were all characterised by driving energy and enthusiasm. Based on personal experience, they were about identity, self-pride, hopes for the future, belief in social diversity and opposition to racism.

The judges were teachers Donna Cartwright and Richard Raftery (himself a performance poet), and Richard Wilcocks, representing the LitFest, who commented, “What’s a festival without terrific young people like this? We must do more of this sort of thing next year.”

The winning group (from Class 8AGH) consisted of Lyndon Leonard and David Shutt, who scored highly in the three categories of Confidence, Content and Performance.

The winning individual was Prya Lota.

“These children can fly!” was Michelle Scally-Clarke’s comment.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Good old Samuel Plimsoll

Nicolette Jones talked to a large audience to open the LitFest in Headingley Library this evening. All seats were taken.

With a Power Point screen behind her showing Victorian illustrations from Vanity Fair, The London Sketch Book and Harper's Weekly, she brought Samuel Plimsoll to life - and all of those present probably agreed that his memory has been far too neglected.

Jones's account is entirely worthy of its deserving subject....Plimsoll emerges as a great reformer wrote Sarah Burton in the Independent at the time of its publication in 2006 - and that just about sums it up.

Although she now lives in London (in Plimsoll Road of course) she was originally a native of Headingley, having been brought up in Rochester Terrace.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

More launch pics

Below, Jane Oakshott and Mary Francis, Richard Wilcocks.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Well and truly launched!

The well-attended LitFest launch party happened on Sunday evening: by all accounts it was a tremendous success.

Richard Wilcocks thanked the owner of the house where the party took place - June Diamond - and other members of the small committee which has been behind LitFest preparation - Mary Francis, Rachel Harkess and Vivian Lister. Poetry followed - from Trio Literati, Murray Edscer and Michelle Scally-Clarke.

Then came the auction of various donated items, which included a device for making newspaper into burnable logs, a bottle of Irish whiskey and a silver necklace from Azendi. Auctioneer was Trevor Bavage, total raised was £204.50

Music and chatting continued long into the evening, in the house and under the gazebo in the garden. Now for Nicolette Jones on Wednesday.......

Below, Trevor Bavage auctions the log maker and Michelle Scally-Clarke reads from her most recent collection She is:

Friday, 15 February 2008