Sunday, 7 February 2016

Ken Livingstone's new book - 8 March

This is one of a series of previews for the forthcoming LitFest, which begins on 29 February at Salvo's Salumeria and ends on 22 March at Lawnswood School. Online version of the brochure is now here.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

John Spurling - Thursday 10 March

This is one of a series of previews for the forthcoming LitFest, which begins on 29 February at Salvo's Salumeria and ends on 22 March at Lawnswood School. Online version of the brochure is now here.

John Spurling
Novelist, playwright and critic John Spurling’s book The Ten Thousand Things won the 2015 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. The novelset in Imperial China, is the story of Wang Meng, one of the fourteenth century’s great painters, and was acclaimed by the chair of the judging panel as “a book which deserves enormous credit”.

In his presentation and reading, which he titles with a metaphorical reference to croquet, John will talk about the difficulties of writing The Ten Thousand Things and of getting it published.

John Spurling has written some thirty-five plays, twenty-nine of which have been produced on stage, radio or TV.  He has published three other novels, The Ragged End , After Zenda , A Book of Liszts and also a retelling of Greek myths in Arcadian Nights: Greek Myths Reimagined.  He has written two critical books: on Samuel Beckett’s plays (with John Fletcher) and Graham Greene’s novels and is a former art critic of the New Statesman.  

7.15pm  Headingley Library

Monday, 1 February 2016

A Pair of Sandles Plus

This event, hosted by Doug Sandle and organised in partnership with Beck Arts, took place in the Meanwood Institute, Green road, Meanwood on the afternoon of Sunday 31 February. Songs were sung, poems and extracts from novels were read and cakes were consumed.

Audience comments:
  1. Dear folks – thank you so much for your singing, poetry and beautiful guitar music – it was very moving and also lots of fun + the wonderful tea and cakes.
  2. Great variety of song and words. A thoroughly entertaining afternoon with a mix of humour and sadness. Really memorable stuff! Please hold more events like this.
  3. A real treat for Sunday afternoon (wet outside but ‘warm’ inside with interesting people). Enjoyed the variety and different talents. Perhaps a little too long - but wouldn’t know who to cut time with!
  4. Very enjoyable, casual atmosphere with plenty of talent for a wet Sunday afternoon.
  5. A lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon. A wonderful mix of songs, poetry and socializing. Tea and
    cakes in the interval – a perfect addition.
  6. A wonderful assortment of song ’n’ rhyme with a jovial chorus at the end to make it a fitting finale.
    Time to go with a smile ...
  7. A nice pleasant and warm Sunday afternoon for community and friends with music, poetry and
    lovely tea and cakes. Cheerful indeed. Thanks.
  8. Very good mix of poetry and music, wonderful cake and refreshments. An enjoyable Sunday
  9. Funny, moving, talented, generous, friendly, heartfelt ... a thoroughly great event.
  10. An excellent way to spend a wet Sunday afternoon. Such good local talent and a fine audience.
  11. Very good event thoroughly enjoyable.
  12. Enhanced by the music. A couple of ‘acts’ went on too long. On balance – great!
  13. An eclectic mix of poetry and song. A very pleasant afternoon. I really enjoyed it. Thank you.
  14. A splendidly eclectic mixture of poetry, song and story. An excellent, entertaining performance.
  15. A great way to spend Sunday. Thank you for the wonderful entertainment.
  16. Really excellent. Lovely combination of poetry and song.
  17. Loved the singing and the poetry.
  18. Wonderful to hear all this local talent.
  19. That was great today -thank you-brilliant as usual
  20. I really enjoyed that afternoon. Good mix of entertainment and I thought the final singalong was great 

Friday, 29 January 2016

Eat With Adonis

This is one of a series of previews for the forthcoming LitFest, which begins on 29 February and ends on 22 March. The printed brochure is on its way.

Ali Ahmad Said Esber, also known by the pen-name Adonis or Adunis (Arabic: أدونيس), is a Syrian poet, essayist and translator considered one of the most influential and dominant Arab poets of the modern era. He led a modernist revolution in the second half of the twentieth century, exerting a great influence on Arabic poetry comparable to T.S. Eliot's in the anglophone world. His dozen books of translation include the first complete Arabic version of Ovid’s Metamorphoses (2002). He lives in Paris, aged 86.

Hear some of his poems (in English), listen to music from the Arab world and  and sit down for a Lebanese meal. Mint's shawarmas are exceptionally good!

Listen to the poems in Arabic - -  الاستماع إلى قصائد بالعربية

£10 Mint Café, North Lane

Adonis wall poem in Leiden, Netherlands

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Superheroes at Spring Bank - with Poem Powers!

Sally Bavage writes:
James Nash and Jo Ward      Photo by Sally Bavage
Well, I could be describing the staff and visitors who worked so hard with a class of six-year-olds to get the Headingley LitFest poetry workshops and final performance assembly ready for the whole school, staff and a fantastic turnout from 40 visiting parents/grandparents to enjoy.

James Nash, local poet, has a superpower himself – the ability to get strong commitment, enthusiasm and joy from children in schools all over Leeds. Here, he was supported by Rachel Harkess, LitFest volunteer, both working with an age group new to LitFest. They got each of 27 young children, nervous and excited, to use a microphone with confidence to read out excerpts – or micropoems - from their original writing. Which they had typed out themselves to make reading out loud easier. At six. Crumbs. As James said: “I have loved working with my youngest-ever group. Their writing is less developed at this age, so the work involved more discussion and the ideas really flowed.”

Headteacher Michael Brawley was delighted that the poetry workshops “engage children with their learning and give them a love of poetry.” A sentiment heartily supported by the office staff, including office manager Miss Bonner: “Such a good thing; it inspires their creative writing which we then see them tackle more and more.” Lunchtime supervisor Juliette James agreed “it was lovely to see the poems they produced.” And as Margaret Ellis, on reception, commented: “We see the mundane every day, it's so good to see their imagination and confidence take off.”

Jo Ward, class 2 teacher, was also really really positive about the effect of the work that takes off way beyond the classroom. Like a superhero. Many of her class now wanted to be writers or poets, and they had felt privileged to be working with “a real writer” who taught them something about the process of writing.

Supermarket Trolley Man. Popcorn man. Diamond Girl. Chuckleman. Wolf Girl. And these superheroes had intriguing superpowers – shooting biscuits into milk, microwaving their enemies, capes that give you superspeed. Some funny, some beautiful, some expressive but all highly imaginative writing.

“This has inspired my son to use poetry and language; we have spent the past week writing limericks every day at home.” “This has made the children really interested in poem power. And, oh, the confidence with using the microphone!”

And to the children: “Best bit?” “Writing my own poem.” “Reading in front of the whole school.” “I enjoyed it all.”

Now that really IS super.

Spring Bank Primary School, Spring Road, Headingley, Leeds LS6 1AD

Friendly Fire on Saturday 5 March

This is one of a series of previews for the forthcoming LitFest, which begins on 29 February and ends on 22 March. Look out for the printed brochure, which is coming soon.

Bill Dean, recently married, along with his mates, decides to join a local Pals Regiment.  “All pals together”.  The lads go through basic training, ship off to France and find themselves in the hell of battle at the Somme. In the chaos Bill gets lost, or does he desert? And if he did, who will execute him?

Sound Company are seven men from the Lawnswood School Community Choir.  They tell the story script in hand, with songs from the First World War. Friendly Fire is based on a 1970 play, Killed July 17 1916 by the once-renowned Coventry Theatre in Education Company.  The performance will be followed by a discussion of the issues.

8pm  St Michael's Church Hall, St Michael's Road

Monday, 18 January 2016

A Song for my Father - Ian Clayton Tuesday 8 March

This is one of a series of previews for the coming LitFest, which begins on 29 February and ends on 22 March. Printed brochure is on its way!

Tuesday 8 March
Ian Clayton
A Song for my Father 
Partnership event with Leeds Libraries
                             Photo by Richard Kenworthy

What happens when you only know your dad when you're a young boy and then, one day, when you are middle-aged, he phones to say he'd like to see you again before he dies? In the space of one year, Ian Clayton makes a voyage around China, America and his father to ponder the familiar questions: Is blood thicker than water? Does it matter who teaches us so long as we learn? How do we let go of something that we never really had in the first place? With characteristic storytelling, wit and good humour, Ian Clayton reflects on a lifelong search for a father figure, skipping across the generations to weave a tale of how we relate, what we do with what we've got and what happens when some things just don't work out the way we want them to

Ian Clayton has written on subjects as varied as the environment, homelessness, jazz and rugby league. His stories are about making sense of where we come from. He is a keen advocate of local libraries and often writes and speaks in support of the important role they play in community life. In his spare time, Ian likes the odd pint or two in tap rooms. Join us to hear Ian talk about his book A Song for my Father.

6.30pm  Headingley Library