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12:36 PM 7th February 2021
arts

Leeds Lit Fest 2021: Going Digital! 2nd - 7th March

Monique Roffey. Image credit Marcus Bastel
Monique Roffey. Image credit Marcus Bastel
Leeds Lit Fest is back! Returning for its third year in the face of significant challenges and uncertainty, the city’s festival of words and thought could not be more necessary.

This year, with the world pivoted to digital in the face of the pandemic, the 6 days of Leeds Lit Fest take place entirely online with all but 2 workshops run on a Pay As You Feel basis. 26 events feature more than 50 writers and performers. Monique Roffey (Saturday midday) is fresh from her 2020 Costa Book Award win for The Mermaid of Black Conch, and she talks about her distinguished career to-date with Dr Emily Zobel-Marshall. International best-selling crime fiction writer Peter James (Wednesday, 12:30pm) talks about his life, writing and the upcoming televising of his hugely popular Roy Grace series, which will appear on ITV in the Spring. We will also be celebrating the life of Andrea Levy (Thursday, 6:30pm). Journalist and broadcaster Gary Younge is joined by Andrea’s family and friends for an evening celebrating her life and work. This is a partnership event with the British Library. On Friday (7pm) LBC radio presenter, Iain Dale examines why we’ve all become so disrespectful and intolerant in ‘Why Can’t We All Just Get Along’. For those with a particular interest in sport, Gary Bloom (Thursday, 7:30pm) will be talking about his new book, Keeping Your Head in the Game.

On Sunday we will celebrating International Women’s Day. Clare Fisher (midday) will be hosting the first Leeds Lit Fest Salon. At 1pm, award winning journalist Saima Mir talks about her critically acclaimed, debut crime thriller The Khan, a gritty thriller set among the British Pakistani community in a northern city. Debut novelists Stephanie Scott and Catherine Menon (2pm) will read from their novels and talk about creating female-led narratives set in Asia and inspired by true events in a panel discussion chaired by arts journalist Yvette Huddleston. For the finale, join the UK’s leading spoken word record label Nymphs & Thugs, with an afternoon of electric spoken word poetry featuring Reece Lyons and Erin Bolens (3pm). A celebration of women and words to kick-start 2021!

Gary Younge
Gary Younge
If you want to hone your creative writing skills then join one of our workshops. Abdullah Adekola’s Dreaming Through A Nightmare (Thursday, midday) explores poems about dreams and what they can tell us about ourselves and society. On Saturday (10am-2pm) Leeds Lit Fest welcomes The Poetry Business. Ann and Peter Sansom head up the M1 from Sheffield for an online poetry writing session, featuring brilliant writing exercises, supportive feedback, and excellent company. Poet Laureate Simon Armitage called them “the most astute and effective tutors in the UK.” And finally, going through the night from midnight to 6am on Sunday, Becky Cherriman leads the innovative Adventures of the Night workshop: A group of people meet at midnight. Where do they meet, why and what happens when they do? Join in and find out.

Are you craving fresh new writing? We’ve got 4 new Leeds-born anthology launches for you to enjoy. First up is This New North (Wednesday, 8pm) featuring writers from the Northern Short Story Festival Academy published by Valley Press. On Friday (1pm) poet-theologian Hannah Stone talks about her new book, Reflections, which is the cumulation of her uplifting and empathetic weekly blog for Leeds Church Institute on the impact lockdowns have been having on the communities of Leeds. At 8pm, there’s a joint poetry reading between Leeds Irish Health and Homes and the David Oluwale Memorial Association, which features readers including Malika Booker, Kayo Chingonyi, and Ian Duhig. The event is launching LIHH’s Corona Ceoil, their book of collective Leeds Irish pandemic responses and raises money for DOMA’s campaign for a civic blue plaque for David Oluwale on Leeds Bridge. Our quartet is rounded off by Weighted Words (Saturday 4pm) from the members of Peepal Tree Press’ Inscribe Readers and Writers Group. With Jacob Ross and Khadijah Ibrahiim, celebrate this dazzling mix of poetry, short stories, confessionals and memoir where contributors with fresh perspectives interrogate race, gender, relationships with self and with family, as well as identity in contemporary Britain. Not to be missed!

We’ve something for children too. There’s a big wiggly book-gobbling adventure with Harry Heape (Saturday, 11am), or you can draw along with children’s book illustrator Liz Million (Saturday, 2pm) and bring your weird, wacky and wonderful characters and creatures to life.

Ann & Peter Sansom
Ann & Peter Sansom
As we are all missing going to the pub, cinema and theatre, we’re bringing them to you. Come and test your literature knowledge in Leeds Lit Fest's first ever quiz night (Tuesday, 8pm). It’s not quite a pub quiz atmosphere but you can definitely BYO of choice! Your quizmaster is Gary Wigglesworth, author of The Book Lover's Quiz Book. Could you be the first LLF quiz champion? We’ve a silent film screening with live piano accompaniment from Jonny Best (Saturday 7.30pm) and, as is our tradition, we close the festival with a theatre performance. Don’t Go Down to the Cellar theatre company will be performing their Strictly Sherlock (Sunday, 7.30pm).

Carl Hutton, Chair of Leeds Lit Fest said, “The format of this year’s Festival is very different, but we have still been able to present a vibrant, varied and challenging 6 days featuring events for children, author talks including a Costa Award winning author, discussion panels and writing workshops. We’re excited about bringing writers and performers from our city, our region and beyond to our audiences. There’s never been a better time to celebrate such phenomenal literary talent.”

For full information on the Festival, including programme updates and ticket information head to its website or social media pages below:

http://www.leedslitfest.co.uk| Facebook: @LeedsLitFest | Twitter: @LeedsLit | #LLF21

Leeds Lit Fest is back!