FEATURE: Words Weekend | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Candice Carty-Williams by Lily Richards

Fane Productions, the team behind new festival series Words Weekend, recognise the unique way in which stories can cross boundaries and bring people together. Harnessing this, the inaugural Words Weekend festival descends on Sage Gateshead between Friday 6th-Sunday 8th December, where more than 60 events will feature a host of literary luminaires and rising stars from across the globe.

Among a line-up studded with star turns, highlights include Bernardine Evaristo, who became the first black woman to win the Booker Prize for Girl, Woman, Other, and will be discussing her work and British identity with historian and Words Weekend ambassador David Olusoga (Friday 6th). Evaristo shared the Booker with Margaret Atwood, with whom there’s a second chance to see in conversation during a screening from the National Theatre’s stage the same day. Elif Shafak was also nominated for this year’s Booker for her unflinching work 10 Minutes 38 Seconds In This Strange World, which she discusses alongside the power of words to unite communities (Saturday 7th). Elsewhere, previous Booker winner Ben Okri presents his latest work The Freedom Artist (and a new short story collection to boot), while Candice Carty-Williams chats about her acclaimed debut novel Queenie and forging your own path (both on Sunday 8th).

If you’re more into non-fiction, you’re equally well-served. Through musical interludes and scientific analysis, Trevor Cox looks into the power of the human voice (Saturday 7th); while food critic Jay Rayner is dishing up an insight into our fascination with last meals, and presenter Stacey Dooley draws on her first book about brave women across the globe to explore issues at the heart of the female experience (both Sunday 8th). Also on Sunday, Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry makes his first appearance in Gateshead to dive into the country’s fashions, foibles and prejudices.

Diverse, boundary-breaking and inclusive, Words Weekend will undoubtedly expand literary horizons

A wealth of local talent will also be representing the region. Poet and host of the Gong Fu Poets spoken word events Tony Gadd performs on the Concourse, while Apples and Snakes and Newcastle-based collective Born Lippy bring a high-energy trio of Kema Kay, Salena Godden and Testament for a celebratory fusion of spoken word styles (both Saturday 7th). Newcastle-born Roisin Crowley Linton is set to deliver a blistering mix of stand-up storytelling and poetry (Saturday 7th), while Lisette Auton will set out to make the invisible visible in a passionate performance (Sunday 8th). Rounding off the Sunday is a NARC. takeover on the Concourse featuring ‘barely-rapper’ Faithful Johannes, cinematic electronica from The Black Sheep Frederick Dickens and folk-inspired pop from Me Lost Me.

Committed to encouraging as many people as possible to experience the weekend, each event will be fully accessible and BSL interpreted, and 40% of the events are completely free. Not only that, but there’s plenty of chances to get even more involved by noting your favourite Geordie or family phrase for the British Library’s Travelling Word Bank, take part in one-to-one sessions with the Curtis Brown agency, or gain an insight into how to make a living as a poet with the Society of Authors, not to mention learning about review writing with our very own editor Claire Dupree.

Diverse, boundary-breaking and inclusive, Words Weekend will undoubtedly expand literary horizons.

Words Weekend takes place between Friday 6th-Sunday 8th December at Sage Gateshead

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