Durham Book Festival 2013

DBF-rgb-twitter-305The Durham Book Festival 2013 programme has just been announced. This year the Festival is bigger than ever, with more than 60 readings, activities and workshops. The Department of English Studies is contributing at various festival events.

This year Durham Book Festival plays hosts to guests including Linwood Barclay, Simon Armitage, Lucy Worsley, Alan Johnson, Mark Watson, Rachel Joyce, Jeremy Vine and Lynda La Plante. The festival will feature new commissions from writers, filmmakers and musicians, events especially for schools and, on the final weekend, the Big Book Swap. Academics from the Department of English Studies will be joining in several discussions with authors, and hosting debates and readings.

The Durham Centre for Poetry and Poetics has brought numerous poets to Durham over the years. This year it will be hosting the T.S. Eliot Prize 2013 on its tour of the UK. Three of the world-class poets who have been shortlisted in recent years, Philip Gross, Sinead Morrissey and Deryn Rees-Jones, will be reading their work alongside a well-known local poet.

The co-director of the Centre for Poetry and Poetics, Stephen Regan, will be chairing a celebration of Sylvia Plath’s autobiographical novel The Bell Jar, alongside her biographer Andrew Wilson and singer/songwriter Kathryn Williams. Williams will premiere songs specially commissioned by Durham Book Festival to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first publication of The Bell Jar. 

One of our own poets will also take to the stage. Gareth Reeves‘ collection Nuncle Music consists of monologues from beyond the grave by Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. Gareth will read his Nuncle Music poems in the beautiful setting of Durham Cathedral, where he will be joined by pianist Edward Cheesman and painter Barrie Ormsby. To get a preview of what this event will be like, you can download a podcast of Gareth reading some of his poems here.

Headlining poetry at the festival is the festival’s Poet Laureate. This year, the Northern Irish poet Paul Muldoon will be coming to Durham, and reading from his award-winning poetry plus a new work specially commissioned for the festival. He will be introduced by Stephen Regan.

Turning from poetry to psychology, Hearing the Voice is a major interdisciplinary project that brings together participants from disciplines such as psychology, medicine, and English to explore the phenomenon of hearing a voice no one else can hear (known as auditory verbal hallucinations). Such experiences are frequently associated with creative minds, especially artists and writers. As part of this project, Angela Woods will join the author Iain Sinclair, pioneer of British psychogeography, who will read from his contribution to a new collection of Voicewalks, descriptions of hearing voices whilst walking through a city.

Later in the Festival, Patricia Waugh will discuss the idea of hallucination and memory with Carolyn Jess-Cooke, author of The Boy Who Could See Demons and The Guardian Angel’s Journal.

In another event that demonstrates the way literature and science can teach us about the other discipline, Patricia Waugh will again be joining a panel of physicists and novelists in Is Great Science Great Science Fiction? From God particles to embryonic stem-cell research, our scientific discoveries are saturated with wonder and the downright weird. But do we create scientific facts or do scientists simply discover what’s already there? This debate aims to explore these fascinating questions.

Finally, there will be a chance to find out about new insights emerging from English at the Meet the Academic Authors session, run by the Institute of Advanced Study.

These are just some of the many events running at Durham Book Festival this year. READ bloggers will be attending several readings and events and will be posting reviews and insights into the festival’s authors and books, so keep following us for the latest news. We will also be using our Twitter feed and Facebook pages to issue event reminders. Finally, if you’re going to miss your literary fix once the festival is finished, do subscribe to our English Events newsletter for monthly listings of future literary activities in the North East.

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