FEATURE: DURHAM BOOK FESTIVAL | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

Narc. Magazine Online

Reliably informed

Image: Willy Vlautin by Dan Eccles

If the move to largely digital programming last year taught us anything, it’s that with the world wide web comes greater accessibility and wider opportunities. For those who have the wherewithal to think a little outside the box, the possibilities for creativity are endless. Take Durham Book Festival, which takes place from Saturday 9th-Sunday 17th October – the usually packed programme is supplemented even further with a glut of podcasts, digital events, talks and provocations, making it an exceedingly meaty prospect.

The New Writing North-produced programme is too packed to go into at length here. A Digital Weekend kicks off proceedings (Saturday 9th-Sunday 10th October), with more than 20 events accessible from your sofa. Highlights include Pointless co-host turned crime writer Richard Osman; Durham’s own Booker-prize winning author Pat Barker; festival laureate Fiona Benson, whose new poetry is inspired by the history of witchcraft in Durham; author of thriller sensation The Last House On Needless Street, Catriona Ward; and a commissioned collaboration between sound artist Christo Wallers and poet Linda France will make its debut. Also of note is an online screening of Counter Culture, a film from Louise Powell which tells of working-class people, places and voices and filmed among the East Durham coalfield communities (Monday 11th) and there’s a series of podcasts inspired by the theme of sleep.

the usually packed programme is supplemented even further with a glut of podcasts, digital events, talks and provocations, making it an exceedingly meaty prospect

In-person events take place at Gala Theatre (Thursday 14th-Sunday 17th October) and kick off with the announcement of the winner of this year’s Gordon Burn Prize which celebrates bold works of fiction and non-fiction. Other in-person highlights include readings from politician, Strictly star and author Ed Balls; crime writer extraordinaire Val McDermid; YA author David Almond; the launch of a booklet which celebrates the history of Black lives in Northern England; a North East poetry showcase featuring John Challis, Jo Clement and Jake Morris-Campbell; and Door-to-Door poet Rowan McCabe presents brand new material.

Of particular note and highly recommended are events including North East disability activist and author Lisette Auton, who chairs a discussion with poet Jen Hadfield and writer Joanne Limburg which touches on themes of neurodiversity, feminism and disability rights (Sunday 10th, online); writer Kit de Waal chats with author and poet Lemn Sissay about his memoir My Name Is Why, which delves into his quest for identity and belonging after a childhood in the care system (Saturday 16th, Gala Theatre); acclaimed author and songwriter Willy Vlautin talks about his newest novel The Night Always Comes, which reflects on American society with his usual empathy and grit (Sunday 10th, online); Anita Sethi talks about her extraordinary novel I Belong Here, which reflects on the author’s journey through the natural landscapes of the North after becoming the victim of a hate-crime (Sunday 10th, online); Disability and the Politics of Visibility is a series of punchy and powerful ten-minute talks by disabled artists, which has been curated by Little Cog’s Vici Wreford-Sinnott (Monday 11th-Friday 15th, online), and Vici has also written and directed The Unsung, a sci-fi/historic genre mash-up radio performance about four extraordinary disabled women thrust together (Saturday 9th, online).

For this hybrid festival accessibility is paramount, with Stagetext captioning in place for all in-person events, and all digital content will be captioned or transcribed.

For much more, and to buy tickets, check out the festival website.

Durham Book Festival takes place from Saturday 9th-Sunday 17th October

Like this story? Share it!

Subscribe to our mailout