Monday, 17 September 2012

Wakefield Literature Festival

Wakefield Literature Festival
22-30 September 2012

The people of Wakefield are rather overlooked when it comes to literature, whether that be inspirational hero figures or simply places to meet and talk about reading and writing. Perhaps this is due to the fact that reading is generally considered a solitary experience. But a story is there to be shared, right? Either way, a brand new festival which takes place over nine days is seeking to remedy these oversights and misconceptions.

Taking place mainly at The Orangery in the centre of town, an impressive range of events are taking place that aim to entertain, inspire and provoke discussion. And thankfully, it is not some highbrow impression of literature; the focus is language as part of our everyday lives and how important and exciting that can be. They are even letting Rhubarb Bomb play a small part and you’ve seen how bad are grammar is, right?

The best thing to do is take a look at their programme. However, as a quick preview, and example of the range of stuff they have, read on.

There are numerous standouts across the nine days. Sept 28th will see Simon Armitage read from his recent book Walking Home as well as a selection of his poems. Taking place in the beautiful Unitarian Chapel (opposite The Orangery) this is a rare opportunity to see someone of Armitage’s reputation and standing performing in our city.

Sunday 23rd sees a range of poets, including Ian McMillan perform. Poetry readings are pretty alien to me, I have to admit. But with seven performing in the delicate surroundings of The Orangery, it’ll be hard to pass up the opportunity to at least give it a go. It’s an example of the care that has gone into this programming to read the  range of backgrounds and experience of the poets performing. I think this will be a real eye opener.

Elsewhere in the schedule there are more unexpected treats; a screening of We Are Poets, an incredibly well received film about a group of teenage poets that breaks down any preconceptions you may have as to what a poet should or could be. There are writing and performance workshops for 14-19 year olds with Yew Tree Theatre, and also with local author Ian Clayton for those a little older, aswell as a Literary Pub Quiz.

On the Wednesday (26th), which is also the usual Wakefield Artwalk, Rhubarb Bomb (i.e. me!) will be doing a short talk about self-publication and the importance of zines, whilst also reading from it’s recent book The City Consumes Us. This evening is free, as part of the Artwalk.

The festival closes with a rehearsed reading of a brand new play by John Godber, The Duck Stranglers of Janada, a satire on the importance of theatre and the changes enforced by cuts in the arts sector – again, another rare and unique treat for us Wakefieldians.

Some of these events are free, whilst others have a small charge. It is a chance to see and do something different, get those cogs in your brain turning. It’s incredibly accessible too. Even as a supposed aspiring writer, I still find ideas of ‘proper’ literature slightly daunting. Plays and poetry; it can all seem very serious. Whilst Wakefield Literature Festival clearly takes this event very seriously, the open and inviting nature of these events mean there’s nothing exclusive about them. Trite as it can sound, there is something here for everyone.

Take a look at the programme now and see what takes your fancy. Take a chance on something new and support Wakefield culture!

Dean Freeman

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