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Image: Martin Longstaff, who runs a songwriting workshop as part of the festival

If you haven’t noticed already, the autumn is a bountiful time for literature lovers, so it’s only right that the hopeful City of Culture 2021 gets in on the act, with the Sunderland Literature and Creative Writing Festival taking place across the city and its surrounds throughout October.

The real meat of the festival comes in the form of some superb author events which have Wearside at their very heart. North East author Fiona Veitch Smith discusses her crime novel The Jazz Files (Monday 3rd, City Library); Witchcraft And Wearside is an intriguing look into the city’s folklore tales (Tuesday 4th, Washington Old Hall); and SAFC fanzine author Martyn McFadden and editor Paul Swinney talk about the newly launched Mackem Dictionary (Saturday 15th, City Library).

Elsewhere, Dr Kevin Yuill, senior lecturer in American History at University of Sunderland looks at the impact of the Civil Rights Movement in Of Kings And Black Panthers (Sunday 9th, City Library) and culture lecturer Geoff Nash asks how the terrorist figure in literature has changed over the last 100 years (Thursday 13th, City Library).

There’s plenty of musical connections too, including an intriguing presentation from retired superintendent Stephanie Yearnshire who looks at The Other Side of Elvis (Saturday 8th, Elephant Tea Rooms). Plus there’s performance poetry courtesy of Apples & Snakes (Sunday 9th, University of Sunderland); and leading stand-up poet Scott Tyrrell performs (Saturday 22nd, Elephant Tea Rooms).

Sunderland’s MAC Trust are delivering the creative writing element of the programme, with highlights including workshops on writing for audio (Sunday 8th, NGCA); how to write flash fiction (Wednesday 12th, City Library); songwriting workshops with Cuckoo Young Writers, including a performance from The Lake Poets’ Martin Longstaff (Saturday 15th, Pop Recs); storytelling in the digital age (Monday 17th, Pop Recs); self-publishing (Thursday 20th, Holmeside Coffee); poetry writing (Saturday 22nd, National Glass Centre), screenwriting for TV (Wednesday 26th, Holmeside Coffee) and comedy writing (Wednesday 2nd, Independent).

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