FEATURE: Durham Book Festival | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Kate Fox

Last year saw Durham Book Festival entice their widest audience yet, pulling in 39,000 people with over 100 events. 2018 looks set to follow in style, running across various venues from Friday 5th-Sunday 14th October. This year’s programme is fit to burst with household names, local talent and plentiful opportunities to discover something new. Highlights are, as usual, too abundant to list, but here’s just a snippet of our favourites.

The intriguing Poetry Exchange (Saturday 6th & Sunday 7th, St Chad’s Chapel) offers people the chance to choose a poem meaningful to them and discuss it over a cuppa. There’s more verse from door-to-door poet Rowan McCabe (Saturday 6th, Palace Green Library Café) and Kate Fox, who brings her acclaimed Where There’s Muck, There’s Bras show to Durham Town Hall (Sunday 14th); also at the venue, Andrew McMillan looks at the poetry of North in a live podcast recording of his series, Rich Seams (Saturday 13th).

Renowned writers will discuss their work, with highlights including (on Saturday 13th) former Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Fingersmith author Sarah Waters (both at Gala Theatre), thrilling historical fiction writers Kate Mosse and Pat Barker (both at Durham Town Hall) and journalist Cathy Newman, who talks about her exploration into the unsung heroines of 20th Century Britain (also at Durham Town Hall, Sunday 14th).

There is a glut of events both headed by and geared towards creative women. Graphic novelist Una presents her book Cree, which takes inspiration from the people of Durham and the local landscape (Friday 5th, Waterstones); there’s a zine-making workshop as well as a live recording of the Virago podcast which gathers contributors from Virago’s latest anthology Can We All Be Feminists? (both Sunday 14th, Durham Town Hall).

Durham Book Festival seeks to be a celebration of outspoken and bold creativity

In addition to the female-centred creativity there are events such as David Olusoga’s Black And British: Growing Up In The North East which was commissioned by the Festival (Sunday 14th, Durham Town Hall); and Neal Pike and Matt Miller’s play Five Years which premieres at the Gala Theatre Studio on Sunday 14th. Penned by Nottinghamshire-based poet Neal Pike and directed by Gateshead poet and theatre-maker Matt Miller, Five Years depicts Pike’s experience of attending a Special Educational Needs school in the 1990s. Pike, who runs the UK’s first disability writers’ collective called Tentacles, uses humour and poetry to delve into those tumultuous years of adolescence.

Also of note is My First Gig with Field Music, the Mercury Prize nominated musicians will be playing a set inspired by children’s books and some recognisable TV theme tunes (Saturday 6th, Gala Studio); there’s political shenanigans from Chris Mullin, who talks about Great Political Disasters I Have Known (And Some That I Haven’t) – we’re betting Brexit comes up once or twice – and Guardian political cartoonist Steve Bell talks about his new collection charting the career of Jeremy Corbyn (both Saturday 13th, at Durham Town Hall and Palace Green Library respectively).

Inside The Archives events focus on topics such as votes for women, dangerous books and witchcraft (Saturday 6th, Sunday 7th & Saturday 13th respectively, at Barker Research Library), and the winner of the Gordon Burn Prize will be revealed on Thursday 11th at Durham Town Hall along with a celebration of the shortlisted titles.

Durham Book Festival seeks to be a celebration of outspoken and bold creativity, an unmissable event for people of all ages and interests.

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