Here at Stoke Newington Literary Festival, we aren’t lazy about spreading the literary love. It’s not all about scripts, pens and plots, though: this year’s festival is jam-packed with musicians, foodies and scientists as well as fiction writers. As well as the legendary Kinks frontman Ray Davies and original dub-poet Linton Kwesi Johnson (both under a tenner!), we’ve cherry-picked a selection of events which meander off the beaten track …
In-keeping with the musical mantra, Daniel Rachel will talk on Saturday at 7pm about his interviews with more than twenty of the UK’s best living songwriters (Lily Allen, Robin Gibb and Ray Davies himself to name but a few) from his book Isle of Noises. Elsewhere, we’ve got Ben Watt from pop duo Everything But the Girl, music journalist Mark Ellen and Simon Mason, Britpop’s former go-to narcotics guy talk about their lives, their inspiration and the stories behind some of music’s biggest hits. We mustn’t forget Juke Box Fury, our slightly mad event which sees four top music writers discuss the songs that made them pick up a pen.
As with every year previously, we just love it when people discover something new with us – some of the best feedback goes along the lines of “I didn’t know those authors before but boy, were they good!” And we’re cheap, too – with nothing on the festival programme over £10, loads of stuff for the price of a pint and masses of FREE events, we’re a recession-busting way of spending the weekend. Here are our picks for Skint Londoners to guarantee that whatever your budget, you can put together your own festival experience that won’t break the bank:
On Friday, four top female crime writers will reveal why corporeal conspiracies appeal to them so much, free of charge (Killer Girls, Stoke Newington Library Gallery, 7pm). Or there’s Will Hodgkinson talking about his very funny new book ‘The House Is Full of Yogis’
Saturday sees the return of the mind-blowing Literary Death Match (Stoke Newington Town Hall, 9pm), complete with the world’s second-largest glitter ball (yep, really) and a star-studded cast to match! For only £8 you can witness this spectacular, speedy-paced soirée as authors are pitted against each other – and the clock – by reading extracts of their own work for 7 minutes or less. After often amusing judgement, the finalists compete in a vaguely literary-related game (think pin the moustache on Ernest Hemingway). Guaranteed brilliance.
Now for Sunday fun-day. Here in Stoke Newington, we like to think we’re a community – but what does that even mean in 2014? Our FREE event orchestrated by New Humanist at St Mary’s Old Church, 2pm, features a panel discussion on how this big ol’ city of ours can make “community” feel more like fiction than reality. When you’re hurrying home after being stuck the sweaty underground with a bunch of stony-faced strangers for half an hour, do you feel connected then? Can a community be created in a large city, or must it develop organically? Decide for yourself!
Sunday also welcomes local author and astrobiologist Lewis Dartnell, who’ll deliver thought-provoking ideas on something we’ve probably all imagined at some point – the practical implications for humanity in the event of an apocalypse. How would we go about making soap, for instance? Did you know about the many uses for wood and cement? Lewis will discuss ideas from his book, the Knowledge: How to Rebuild our World from Scratch. Popular science at its best.
John Barker was one of the “Stoke Newington Eight”, prosecuted and jailed in 1972 for activities as part of the Angry Brigade, a left wing radical group. His latest novel, Futures, is set in 1987 against the backdrop of the . Not to be missed.
We’ve also got the perfect proceedings to please your palate, all at our St Paul’s Church venue – join gastro-guru Claudia Roden to hear about her Italian-inspired food and drink book and pick up some FREE nibbles while you’re at it (Sunday, 3pm, £8), join some of our favourite foodies and hear about their lives and their tastes at our GastroSalon event (Sunday, 1pm, £5) or tickle any alcoholic affinities you may have at Pete Brown’s Craft Cider Revolution (Saturday, 4pm, £6) which includes FREE SAMPLES!!
If you’re seriously skint and want to learn how to become an international best-selling author, in order to afford to do more AND buy a yacht, we probably can’t help. But we CAN gently help you on your way with three events designed to encourage new writers and explore new ways of getting published: there’s a How to write for Children and Teens event for all budding kids/young adults writers at 11am Saturday (St Mary’s Old Church, £4) and a How do I get published? panel the same day at 1pm in the White Hart for only £5. Or you can get inspired with our Writers’ Workout – for £10, you’ll get put through your paces with some fun and stimulating writing exercises (Saturday, 11am, the White Hart). Writing masterclasses are usually costly, but not with us!
Check the blackboards for the most up-to-date line-up on the day, but you can expect to catch Owen Jones interviewing Seumas Milne about the miners’ strike 30 years on for £6 (Saturday, Abney Public Hall, 1pm), the brilliantly hilarious cartoonist Steven Appleby conversing with Martin Rowson (£6, Saturday, Stoke Newington Library Gallery, 4pm) and the fantastic David Adam talking about living with OCD (£4, Sunday, the White Hart, 12.30pm).
LAST BUT DEFINITELY NOT LEAST, we have the most ridiculously brilliant completely FREE venue: our Budvar Tent outside the Town Hall (Friday evening and Sat & Sun, 11am-8pmish). If you’ve got a bit of spare change, profits from drinks in our festival bars (Town Hall, Library Gallery, Budvar Tent, Abney Hall, Council Chambers) all goes directly to supporting literacy initiatives in Hackney, so with every drink you buy, you’re being AMAZING! We’ve also provided you with a string of FREE and phenomenal characters for the evening – don’t miss Never Mind the Buzzcocks’ Phill Jupitus and poet Tim Wells.
Right, we’ve got a festival to finish wrangling, so check out the rest of our amazing programme online! http://www.stokenewingtonliteraryfestival.com/the-programme/
Follow the lovely @skintlondon for year-round bargainacious love.
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