Monday, 6 October 2008

LitFest Line Up Announced

Lancaster's LitFest celebrates its 30th year this festival with a jam-packed four days of poetry, novels and short fiction.

The festival, at The Dukes from 29 October to 1st November, features a wide range of work, from British novels to international poetry.

Tickets for all events are available from the Dukes Box Office on 0845 344 0642.

To get hold of a full programme, call the litfest office on 01524 62166, or visit the website at to download an e-programme.

Highlights of the event include a launch event from Poet Laureate Andrew Motion, who gets the festival started with a Wednesday evening performance on October 29 at 7.30pm.

Andrew Motion, a previous guest at litfest back in the 1990s, was appointed as Poet Laureate in May 1999. Since becoming the UK's official royal poet, he has worked to give the role more general public relevance, writing verse to mark events and causes of more personal public concern, such as the Paddington rail disaster and the charity Childline. He has also embarked on a series of visits to schools and colleges to spread his enthusiasm for poetry to the younger generation.

Andrew Motion’s work has received the Arvon/Observer Prize, the John Llewelyn Rhys Prize, the De Moffart Art Prize (2006) and the Dylan Thomas Prize. In 1994 his biography of Philip Larkin was awarded the Whitbread Prize for Biography, and shortlisted for the NCR Award. The Lamberts won the Somerset Maugham Award.

His new collection of essays, Ways of Life: Places, Painters and Poets is "a book full of pleasures", according to the Daily Telegraph, while his 2007 book In The Blood A Memoir of my Childhood is described as "a strikingly good book, framed by tragedy but full of intense life" by novelist Helen Dunmore.

Fiction, Poetry and More

If you like novels, litfest also has plenty to offer - the Orange Prize shortlisted author Anne Donovan will be talking about her latest novel, Being Emily, which follows a Glasgow girl with a fascination for the Brontes as she tries to find her place in the world after a family tragedy.

Lancaster-based novelist Jo Baker brings us more about her book, The Telling, a grown-up ghost story based in modern and 19th century Lancashire, while Anna Ralph will be in Lancaster to discuss her novel Before I Knew Him, released in July, which uncovers childhood secrets buried so deep they are concealed from a man's fiance.

Stella Duffy is also a guest, talking about her novel Room of Lost Things in which her characters find hidden mysteries in the pockets of customers at their drycleaning shop.

Once again litfest offers a strong programme of short fiction. A Hallowe'en night of horror sees Booker-shortlisted novelist Gerard Woodward (author of I'll Go To Bed At Noon) joining novelist Nicholas Royle and Perrier Comedy Award-winner Matthew Holness for a night of stories from Manchester-based Comma Press's new book of horror stories, The New Uncanny.

Jackie Kay joins new short fiction writer Clare Wigfall, and there is also short fiction from the Booker-shortlisted Bernard MacLaverty, whose collection Matters of Life and Death is "bursting with reasons for praise." according to New Statesman.

For those interested in poetry, there are some fascinating events lined up, including a special afternoon of poetry in translation brought to litfest by the Poetry Translation Centre in London. This event features poets from Tajikistan, Kurdistan, Somaliland, Sudan and Pakistan reading with their UK poet-translators (Jo Shapcott, W N Herbert and Sarah Maguire) and gives audiences a chance to see behind the stereotypes to the rich poetic traditions of cultures we only hear about through dismal and tragic news reports.

There's more poetry on offer when David Morley, Michelene Wandor and Soleïman Adel Guémar give perspectives from Romany, Algerian and Jewish experiences of transcience, political exile and forced migration from history to the present day.

The festival rounds off with an exciting event created specially for litfest. Four writers chosen for their diverse approaches to poetry will spend two days in the Lanternhouse, Ulverston, working on a performance on Saturday at 7.45pm. A downloadable album will also be available from the litfest website after the festival.

For people who want to come to lots of events, litfest is repeating its popular three for the price of two events offer (cheapest ticket free) for tickets booked up to a week in advance.

This year litfest aqlso has plenty going on online at its website at, as its publishing imprint Flax books experiments with audio, film and online work as part of this year’s celebration.

There will be short films showing around the Lancaster University campus, and a fictional blog created by two writers, who will construct a character from existing blogs, take you through the quirks and obsessions of their life, introduce you to new virtual friends, and unravel a fascinating tale of identity theft.

• Visit the LitFest web site:
Download the LitFest 2008 Programme

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