I’m a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester.
International festival of words
Girl reading a book / Copyright Chris Wieland
A global array of authors will arrive in the city next month for the eighth Manchester Literature Festival (MLF). Events take place in a variety of locations, both indoors and outdoors. On the agenda will be world literature, industry insights, rising stars, events for young readers, as well as a chance to hear from luminaries like Jeanette Winterson and Lionel Shriver.
Cathy Bolton, Director of MLF, says: "Once again we are making Manchester the destination choice for literature lovers this October; launching some of the hottest new books of the autumn season, and presenting an exciting series of bespoke commissions, talks and walking tours celebrating the city's rich literary heritage and inquiring spirit."
Here is a completely subjective pick of potential highlights from this year's brochure.
1) A Passion for Sport, Thursday 17th October 7.30pm, The Green.
Ian McMillan and Owen Sheers will talk about the joys and challenges of being the literary wing of a sports team. In addition to being an established poet and presenter of BBC Radio 3's The Verb, Ian McMillan is writer in residence for his home team Barnsley FC. Poet, scriptwriter and novelist, Owen Sheers, has been artist in residence for the Welsh Rugby Union, an experience which inspired his new book Calon: A Journey to the Heart of Welsh Rugby. This literary match takes place at The Green sports bar.
If you enjoy a good walk, a good read and a good excuse to visit a pub or two, this is an unmissable event. Experienced tour guide Ed Glinert will reveal which pub is named after a Walter Scott novel, as well as raising a glass to Anthony Burgess, George Orwell and other literary legends.
3) Manchester Crime Scene, Tuesday 15th October 7pm, Town Hall.
Crime writers Val McDermid, Cath Staincliffe and Tom Benn will investigate how changes in a city can affect the criminal activity that takes place within it. One of the issues to be interrogated is how an author's imagination makes use of factual incidents and real locations to inspire fictional stories. Tom Benn's Chamber Music and the Doll Princess novels document a mordant Manchester underworld.
4) The Great Gatsby Uncovered, Friday 11th October 8pm, Matt & Phreds.
A jazz club is the inspired setting for an opportunity to learn more about F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic The Great Gatsby, published in 1925. Author Sarah Churchwell, the University of East Anglia's Professor of American Literature, will share her research and insights into the world from which The Great Gatsby was born. Alligator Gumbo will provide the live soundtrack of 1920's jazz.
5) There's a Rumble in the Jungle, Monday 14th October, 10am
In an event to inspire the literary giants of the future, Manchester's Hallé orchestra will perform Steve Pickett's cantata based on the children's book Rumble in the Jungle by Giles Andreae and David Wojtowycz.
The interactive performance is suitable for families and children who are aged three and older. It will be a chance to learn about the animals in the jungle, to the accompaniment of music and poetry.
This is only a small selection of over 70 events, which will be taking place across Manchester. Some events are free, although booking is required. MLF is a wonderful opportunity to hear from writers whose books you already treasure and those whose work you will come to cherish in the future.