Durham Book Festival returns in 2015, bringing established writers and new talent (plus a life-sized polar bear!) to the city. We will be supporting several events at this year’s celebration from 6th to 17th October.
Each year the Centre for Poetry and Poetics organises the Festival Laureate, who writes a specially commissioned poem inspired by Durham. This year’s laureate is the Irish poet, Sinéad Morrissey, whose five collections include the TS Eliot Prize-winning Parallax (2013). Sinéad will visit two County Durham secondary schools during her visit, and give a reading on 17th October at Palace Green Library.
We’ll also be helping to launch new poetry with Frances Leviston. Her first poetry collection, Public Dream, was one of the most acclaimed debuts of recent years and was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and the Forward Prize for First Collection. Her vivid new collection, Disinformation, addresses one of the key questions of the age: how have we come to know what we think we know?
Why are both child and adult readers so drawn to stories of magic, the supernatural and the strange?
Continuing the theme of knowledge, the Institute of Advanced Study will be hosting a debate that contests that There is No Such Thing as Hard Evidence. Crime writers Louise Welsh and Helen Cadbury will be joined by Fiona de Londras (Law) and Dan Grausam (English Studies).
And on the opposite pole to hard evidence lies fantasy and fiction. Why are both child and adult readers so drawn to stories of magic, the supernatural and the strange, set in worlds that do not exist? And what might such stories tell us about our everyday lives, and the world around us? As part of Durham Book Festival’s celebration of 2015’s Big Read, Northern Lights, a panel of researchers, chaired by Simon James, will be considering these questions. Experts from Literary Studies, History and Theology will consider Northern Lights, and other stories of the fantastic, and we welcome questions from and discussion with all readers of fantastic literature.
These are just a few of the many fantastic events taking place this year. For the full programme, head over to the Festival website – or for a taste of what to expect, here are some of our reviews from previous years’ Festivals.
- The Wind in the Willows: Durham Big Read 2014 - The adventures of Mr Toad, Badger and Ratty have attracted readers ever since Kenneth Grahame’s classic was first published in 1908. Actor Mark Benton and Professor Simon James explored the enduring fascination with The Wind in the Willows at Durham Book Festival 2014. This podcast, recorded at the Big Read event, is brought to you courtesy of... Continue Reading →
- A Tale of Two Professors, or the Unexpected John Carey - Growing from an ordinary background to become the emeritus Merton Professor of English at Oxford, John Carey has been at the forefront of Britain’s literary establishment for decades. Michael Shallcross reports on his appearance at Durham Book Festival, to launch his memoir, The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books. Having spent the week leading up to John... Continue Reading →
- Review of Kate Tempest: Hold Your Own - Performance poetry might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but as Alison McManus discovered the Mercury-nominated Kate Tempest offered something magical when she appeared at Durham Book Festival. “So you’ve got a babysitter? And we’re going out? Really out? Properly, like grownups?” “Yes,” I say, excited, but hesitant as well; this is risky. “Are we going to... Continue Reading →
- Review of William Atkins and Benjamin Myers: Lives, Landscape, Literature - Forbidding, mysterious, and dramatic, moorlands have long captured the imagination of artists and writers. In a Durham Book Festival event, William Atkins, author of The Moor: Lives, Landscape, Literature, read from his work surrounded by the images and poems of the exhibition Heathcliff Adrift, which covers Heathcliff’s “missing” three years in Wuthering Heights. Alison McManus attended this haunting evening in Durham... Continue Reading →
- Review of Carolyn Jess-Cooke: Motherhood Writing through the Woman’s Experience - Carolyn Jess-Cooke’s interactive lecture series on Motherhood reflects on the impact of maternity on the female author. Her event at Durham Book Festival was the sixth of a series of twelve lectures, touring book festivals throughout the UK, each one entirely individual, focusing on different aspects of the maternal experience through women’s writing, and exploring issues surrounding... Continue Reading →
- Poetry at Durham Book Festival - With Durham Book Festival in full swing, there are several exciting poetry events still to look forward to this week, centred around the afternoon and evening of Saturday 18th October. These readings and talks are co-organised by the Centre for Poetry and Poetics. Michael O’Neill and Jamie McKendrick Thursday, 16th October, 7.30 pm. St Chad’s... Continue Reading →
- Review of Terry Eagleton: Was Jesus a Revolutionary? - Chris Murray reviews Terry Eagleton’s appearance at Durham Book Festival at which the leading literary scholar and cultural theorist examined the politics of the New Testament. In 1945 Karl Popper argued that Jesus Christ was undoubtedly a revolutionary. Popper portrayed Christ as a proto-socialist whose teachings against family and private property – increasingly popular over the first three... Continue Reading →
- Durham Book Festival 2014 - From politics to poetry, and fiction to feminism, there’s something for everyone at this year’s Durham Book Festival, which brings over 70 writers to the city from 6th to 18th October. This year’s highlights include acclaimed actor and writer Sheila Hancock talking about her debut novel Miss Carter’s War, a panoramic portrait of post-war Britain,... Continue Reading →
- Beyond the Two Cultures: Review of “Is Great Science Great Science Fiction?” at Durham Book Festival - Could Star Trek be considered a serious attempt at scientific thinking? Are scientists akin to novelists in their interpretations of the world? Dr Peter Garratt reviews the debate “Is Great Science Great Science Fiction?” held at Durham Book Festival 2013 as part of the Hearing the Voice project. If, according to Friedrich Nietzsche, natural science affords... Continue Reading →
- Cuthbert and the Otters: Review of Paul Muldoon at Durham Book Festival - The Irish poet Paul Muldoon was Festival Laureate for Durham Book Festival 2013. Niall Hodson reviews his wide-ranging reading, which included a new poem especially commissioned for the occasion. The 2013 Durham Book Festival concluded on the evening of 29th October with a reading from this year’s Festival Laureate, poet Paul Muldoon, in the Chapter... Continue Reading →