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  • Articles by Carmel

    Stoke Newington Literary Festival, 6-8 June


    The fifth Stoke Newington Literary Festival kicks off this weekend, 6-8 June.  Now established as one of the most eclectic and popular programmes in the literary festival calendar, there’s something for everyone – and it’s in London. Hay is so last week! 

    Firmly rooted in the vibrant community of Stoke Newington and drawing on the wellspring of its talented local authors, the festival borrows from the area’s radical past as well as looking further afield for inspiration about subjects as diverse as maths, beer, feminism, food, as well as some of the most exciting fiction emerging this year in numerous interesting and quirky venues dotted around the compact and lively centre of ‘Stokey’.

    This year’s theme is community: over 300 years ago, Stoke Newington, then a village outside London, was full of radicals, dissenters and pamphleteers (Daniel Defoe and Mary Wollstonecraft were locals). Now in 2014, property prices are going through the roof while, down the road in Dalston, the food bank has never been busier. Against this background of poverty versus gentrification in a rapidly changing city, festival partners, New Humanist, have commissioned writers such as Thurston Moore and Ellie Mae O’Hagan to contribute to a festival pamphlet on what ‘community’ actually means. Festival goers will also be able to contribute their thoughts on what community means to them on a website and on postcards over the weekend.

    The festival will open, on Friday evening, with Mark Kermode talking about his new book, Hatchet Job: Hate Critics, Love movies before comedian, Josie Long, introduces and showcases the work of Arts Emergency, a Hackney-based charity working across the UK to mentor, encourage and support working class and low-income kids into arts degrees. Founder, Josie, will be around during the festival weekend signing people up to its ‘Alternative’ Old Boys Network.

    Festival founder Liz Vater says: “We set the festival up to help fund literacy initiatives within Hackney. Last year we ran storytelling workshops with the Turkish & Kurdish community and funded places for Stoke Newington kids to attend a residential creative writing course at Arvon. This year we hope to extend our reach and provide even more support to help adults and kids engage with and improve access to literacy.”

    Highlights of the festival will include Linton Kwesi Johnson performing his iconic dub poetry (Sat, 6.30pm); Guardian Journalist, Suzanne Moore will be interviewing legendary interviewer, Lynn Barber (Sun, 4pm); Jonathan Meades will be talking about architecture, culture, food and himself to Neil Denny of cult podcast, Little Atoms (Sun, 2pm) and Stewart Lee will be in conversation with Andy Miller about his book – The Year of Reading Dangerously – in which Andy finally gets round to reading all those books he’s lied about reading for years.    

    Laura Bates of Everyday Sexism, Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett of Vaganda talk to Safraz Manzoor about Feminism 4.0: Why Are We Still Fighting Sexism? (11am on Saturday); Lucy Inglis explores Georgian London (Sat, 3pm) and Seumas Milne (The Enemy Within: The Secret War Against the Miners) discusses the legacy of the Miners’ Strike in its 30th anniversary year with Owen Jones (Chavs) on Saturday at 1pm.

    Alex Clark’s Rising Stars (Sun, 2.30pm) introduces debut authors Harriet Lane (Alys, Always; Her), Anna Whitwham (Boxer Handsome), Tim Glencross (Barbarians) and Jessie Burton (The Miniaturist) plus both Costa Prize-winning  A L Kennedy (Sun, 6pm) and Man Booker and  Charlotte Mendelson (Sun 12.30pm) will be appearing at the festival.

    You can pop along to a Late Night Literary Salon (Fri 6th, 8pm) for a night of story-telling, drinking and music hosted by three of the best up and coming indie publishers in the UK – Influx Press, 3:AM and Galley Beggar Press with special guests. Then, on Sunday at 5pm, Philip Jones, Editor of The Bookseller invites four leading commentators to discuss The Future of the Book.

    Genre fiction is well served as MJ McGrath hosts a panel of female crime writers: Kate Rhodes, Lucy Atkins and Charlotte Williams in Killer Girls (Fri, 7pm); The Science of Star Wars is explained on Saturday at 1pm and, on Sunday, at 1pm, a dream team of Ben Aaronovitch, Stephen Hunt, Mitch Benn and Jon Wallace  discuss (clears throat!) Human and Interspecies Relationships in Science-Fiction and Fantasy.

    Perhaps you’re interested in writing about video games? Reads Like a Seven is curated and presented by games designer and former Edge editor, Ste Curran, at 8pm on Friday 6th.

    There are numerous other events on writing whether your interest is in Writing for Kids and Teens(Sat 7th, 11am); Writing History (Sat 7th, 1pm) or perhaps you need A Writer’s Workout as presented by Ambit Magazine (Sat 7th, 11am) followed by theirsession on How on Earth Do I Get Published? (Sat , 1pm).

    On Sunday at 11am children’s author, Ciaran Murtagh, of CBBC runs a story-writing workshop called Never Be Stuck For an Idea Again for ages seven and above. For the little ones, Mog, Judith Kerr’s forgetful cat will be turning up in person at Stoke Newington Library at 1pm and 2.30 on Saturday plus 2.30 and 3.30pm on Sunday. Also on Sunday, at 1pm, The Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company runs lyric-writing and performance workshops to introduce families and young people to the bard and challenge preconceptions.

    If you find that there aren’t people like you or families like yours in children’s books, come along to Books for Everyone (a diversity event for families). Sarwat Chadda and other children’s authors will help you write and draw yourself into stories and you can have a chat with the people behind Letterbox Library.

    Music always plays a big part in the Stoke Newington Literary Festival and this year is no exception. Music journalists, rock film-makers, musicians, punks, post-punks and 60s icons all have something to say and this year’s festival features some of the best music memoirs around. 

    Music writer, DJ and broadcaster, Mark Ellen discusses his eagerly anticipated book Rock Stars Stole My Life with Mark Billingham (Sun, 4pm) while Viv Albertine of The Slits chats to ex-Sonic Youth guitarist and singer, Thurston Moore about her autobiography Clothes Clothes Clothes. Music Music Music. Boys Boys Boys (Sun, 4pm).

    And the festival closes with legendary Kinks frontman, Ray Davies and rock film-maker, Julien Temple (The Filth and the Fury, Ray Davies: Imaginary Man and so much more... ) in conversation. Julien discusses his work then interviews Ray about his life, music, and new book Americana: The Kinks, the Road and the Perfect Riff (Sun, 8pm). 

    There will be live music at the Budvar Tent outside the Town Hall plus special guests, Phill Jupitus and Tim Wells, who will be spinning the decks and ‘dad dancing’. 

    Festival favourites, Literary Death Match and  Juke Box Fury with Richard Boon, the World’s Coolest Librarian TM will be at 9pm on Saturday, and 6pm on Sunday, respectively. 

    Award-winning local beer writer (and festival co-organiser), Pete Brown, updates his popular Beer & Music Matching in which you can now discover the neuroscience behind why Duvel is the only beer to drink when you’re listening to The PixiesDebaser. Or, if cider is your tipple, Pete will be discussing this most misunderstood of drinks in The Craft Cider Revolution on Saturday at 4pm.   

    Food, as well as drink, will be served, so to speak: Claudia Roden will be discussing her latest cookery book, The Food of Italy with TV chef, Valentine Warner on Sunday at 3pm. 

    If you think you know London, think again. Several events explore the hidden, mysterious London that we overlook or never get to see. You can join Gareth Rees (Marshland: Dreams and Nightmares on the edge of London) and John Rogers (This Other London: Adventures in the Overlooked City) as they talk about alternative London writing, myths and monsters (Sat, 3pm) or look in on Travis Elborough (A London Year)and Mark Mason (Walk the Lines) as they discuss their own writing about London as well as the greatest chroniclers of the capital. 

    All this and so much more! Have a look at the website where you can find full details of all the events and book tickets (unless it is a free event). Tickets are also available at the Stoke Newington Bookshop, 159 Stoke Newington High Street or at the Stoke Newington Library.

    Stokey may not be on the tube but it has its own overground rail station and is well served by buses including the 67, 73, 79, 106, 149, 243 and 476.

     


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