e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Archive for the tag “literary festival”

Cancellation! Cancellation! Cancellation!


Edinburgh Boook Festival

Harrogate Festivals


Guernsey Literary Festival





All over the world events are cancelled. People who worked hard to put together a programme see it torn to nothing by a creature that is so small it’s invisible.

Those of us who were looking forward to a dose of culture, in my case particularly literature, must give up for this year.

Online is wonderful, and I congratulate and thank anyone who has created an online festival. But it’s not a substitute for the buzz of a real poetry reading, the joy of anticipating a panel of famous writers in the flesh, the pleasure of going through a hard-copy programme and ticking off the events to see.

However, there’s another side to this. So many festivals cancelled! Yes, but let us remember that there were ‘so many’ to cancel. So many organisers, who are often volunteers, so many eager audiences.

In years past and to come we live in a time of celebrating the arts and sciences like never before in history.


From festival to festival

search-logoBrowsing around the web, as I do from time to time, I stumbled on the site of a magazine called Stylist. I’ve never heard of them before and style type things are not really my style, but one of their articles caught my eye.

It gives a list of what they consider the seven best literary festivals. The events they list are spread all over the country and through the summer. A quick google indicated there are many more festivals. If one had the time, the money and the stamina one could spend weeks on end festivalling – maybe with the odd music event in between.

Back to the seven best. How did they decide?

I imagine some exhausted junior reporter rushing, by bus, between events, staying in horrible b&bs, listening for hours to authors they don’t read, and then scribbling a brief report at 3:00 am to catch a deadline.

Or maybe a senior reporter samples the most interesting talks by authors s/he has read while sipping cocktails in the best hotels. The quality of the cocktails affects the report s/he dictates to the secretary.

Or maybe the editor calls the staff together in their coffee break and demands they each name a festival they’ve enjoyed in the past.

The method of info gathering affects the final list, which affects who attends which events and buys whose books, which affects the authors’ income and popularity with their publisher, which affects whose work gets published, promoted and read at next year’s festivals, and so on into the foreseeable future.

The programme is finalised… ta-dah !

An interesting literary festival in a lovely setting. I’d never heard of either the village or the festival before stumbling onto this blog. It just shows what can be found if one looks around.

A new literary festival

In Hawarden, in a lovely part of North Wales, is Gladstone’s Library. This is an unusual place: a residential library where one can go to study, to write, to use the collections or just to rest.

I stayed there some years ago when studying for an Open University exam.  Most of the other residents at the time were doing the same thing. In coffee and meal breaks we shared exam woe stories and encouraged each other to think positive. In between we found it a great place to really get stuck into the revision, while someone else did the cooking and cleaning.

Over the years it has also become a place for writers and often has a writer in residence.

whats-on-gladfestNow the staff are branching out with a literary festival – called Gladfest (a bit of an unfortunate name as there seem to be other festivals with the same one). This year is its first year. It runs from 6th to 8th September and if it’s a success will become an annual event. For a small place like Hawarden it will be a major cultural happening.

Hay Festivals

What do Hay-on-Wye and Beirut have in common? I would have said ‘not much’ until I came across a mention of Hay Festival Beirut on the British Council website.

Checking further I found that the Hay Festivals are international with events as far apart as Xalapa, Mexico and Nairobi, Kenya. Fabulous – peoples of the world united through a love of literature.

Of course, I’ve long known of the Hay Festival, and long intended to go. Now I can really pig out on festivals everywhere. Around the world in 80 bookfests. Yummy.

Crimefest 2012

Crimefest, a convention devoted to crime fiction, takes place every year in Bristol. This year it’s on 24-27 May.

I have so much on that I may not make it this year, but so far it’s still in my diary. Having been several times I now know some of the other regulars, and it’s good to see them again and catch up with their news.

I love being able to wallow in a favourite type of fiction, to meet authors and to listen to a range of panel discussions covering everything from ancient Rome gritty to modern cosy.

I also end up buying more books than I intend to – but isn’t that something we all do?

The event is a meeting between the unreal world of fiction and the real one of the book business, and gives us the best of both.

Festivals – literary, musical, etc – represent a peaceable and friendly sharing of ideas, knowledge and skills. Here are people getting together for civilised learning and discussion on high and popular art and other interests they have in common. The proliferation of such events is surely one of the best things about our culture.

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