What’s On: North East Literature and Book Events in March 2020

Edit: In light of current circumstances, events on this page are obviously subject to change and cancellation. For the weeks ahead, we’re thinking about ways to continue to promote activity from the region – where it is still going ahead in person or happening virtually. If you have ideas for what we can do to support, comment below or Tweet us.

With apologies for the late landing, due to industrial action at the university, we are pleased to bring you March’s North East Book Events listing, featuring literary talks and readings in Durham, Sunderland, Newcastle, Teesside and beyond. If you’re an event organiser please share with us so we can help promote. And if you’re reading this, get out and support some of these activities and the excellent cultural scene we have in our region.

Appropriate to the start of spring, this March seems a month of new beginnings – particularly with poetry. New poetry book launches include Jo Colley’s Sleeper and George Jowett’s The Gypsy and the Candy Floss Queen, and Jo Clement’s debut pamphlet Moveable Type, while Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts will be releasing the 2020 Newcastle Poetry Festival programme.

We are also reminded of how literature and literary studies has an activist strand, engaging closely with the politics and realities of the world around us. A workshop on nineteenth-century violences will consider the history of violence in literature and society, connecting it to contemporary discussions; Dr Sharae Deckard will be talking about the water crisis and the climate emergency, and the role literature plays in mediating it; anthropologist Erica Lagalisse will explore the occult worlds of anarchism; and, for International Women’s Day, Florianne Humphrey invites you to Write Your Feminism.

Finally, there’s a forensic look at crime fiction, as the fascinating Crime Story season continues.

These are just a few of the highlights in the North East literary scene this March. Be sure to subscribe to the newsletter or follow us here, on Twitter, or Facebook, to get the first word on next month’s events.


Fri 06
16:30 in St Chad’s College, St Chad’s CollegeDurham
‘Bricks, blocks and board games’ and ‘Border Landscapes and Romantic Fiction’
with Barbara Gribling and David Stewart
Link to event We run a regular series of across the year. All are welcome, so please come along! Organised by The North East Forum in Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Studies.

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Fri 06
17:30 in Hallgarth House, Hallgarth HouseDurham
Logics of European Romanticism
with Professor Paul Hamilton
Link to event There are problems, still, about producing a unified field theory of European Romanticism. It does not sit in front of us, un-problematically available for inspection. It has to be thought up, speculated about, and any description of European Romanticism must take its place amongst rivals. In fact, the problem gets worse and worse, since, to keep the analogy going, the microscopic study of Romanticism seems increasingly less and less translatable into the larger, macroscopic understanding. Different parts of the field of study no longer seem to belong to each other or share the same values and priorities, but, perhaps, to displace each other. Those displacements, though, perhaps share a common figurative energy originating in an inalienable rhetorical energy as Romanticism, in Nietzsche’s phrase, keeps ‘becoming what it is’. Organised by Inventions of the Text.

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Fri 06
19:00 in Earthbeat Centre, Earthbeat CentreSaltburn
Diverse #24
with Katie Metcalfe, Sarah Crutwell, Adele Duffield, Patience Ezinwoke
Link to event A monthly spoken word night for unheard and under-represented voices in Teesside.

DiVerse features special guests and open mic performers who are womxn, LGBTQIA+, visibly and invisibly disabled, refugee and artists of colour. Organised by Apples and Snakes.

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Mon 09
19:00 in Lit and Phil, Lit and PhilNewcastle
Smokestack Poetry Launch
with Jo Colley and George Jowett
Link to event Jo Colley’s previous books are As If, Punchdrunk, Weeping for the Lovely Phantoms, and Bones of Birds. She was poet in residence for the Northern Poetry Library, 2016-18, and helped to create the Poem of the North website. George Jowett worked in Social Services for nearly forty years. His previous publications include the pamphlets Blow by Blow, The Old Campaigners and Thatcher’s Folly. Organised by The Lit and Phil.

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Mon 09
19:00 in Forum Books, Forum BooksCorbridge
Black River
with Will Dean and Ann Cleeves
Link to event An electrifying return for our favourite small-town reporter; author Will Deans latest Scandi noir sees relentless protagonist Tuva in search of missing best friend Tammy Yamnim, whose suspicious kidnapping sparks an investigation that introduces us to the dark claustrophobic forests and the sinister secretive residents of Snake River. Organised by Forum Books.

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Wed 11
19:00 in Forum Books, Forum BooksCorbridge
The Mercies
with Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Link to event Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1621 witch trials; with sparse beautiful prose and an ethereal atmosphere, Kiran explores witchcraft, superstition and religion in a powerful female-fronted historical fiction and her first adult novel. Organised by Forum Books.

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Thu 12
17:00 in Alington House, Alington HouseDurham
Writing Your Feminism
with Florianne Humphrey
Link to event Explore the diverse world of feminist fiction, learn craft techniques, and practice short writing activities to incorporate into your day-to-day life.

Understand what it means to write feminist fiction, why writing is an important tool for women, and how writers of any gender can authentically narrate the female experience – from finding your voice to reversing stereotypes.

For those who’ve never written before to writers who’ve penned their own pieces, this workshop will help you learn new writing skills, share ideas, meet like-minded people, and fully appreciate the importance of feminist fiction.

An event to celebrate the month of International Women’s Day, this workshop is open to all genders and for writers of both prose, poetry and drama. Organised by Florianne Humphrey, for International Women’s Day.

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Thu 12
17:30 in Hallgarth House, Hallgarth HouseDurham
J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World
Link to event The mid-century reading group is open to postgraduate research students, early-career researchers, and academics. Refreshments provided. Organised by Mid-Century Reading Group.

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Fri 13
14:00 in Hartlepool Central Library, Hartlepool Central LibraryHartlepool
O Man of Clay
with Eliza Mood
Link to event Set partly in a future Hartlepool, Eliza Mood’s novel O Man of Clay brings the realities of a global climate crisis back to the North East, a historical centre of the industrial revolution. Organised by Stairwell Books.

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Sat 14
10:00 in Waterstones, WaterstonesDurham
The Unexpected Elephant of Inspector Chopra
with Vaseem Khan
Link to event We are super pleased to welcome Vaseem Khan to our crime book group, hoping he doesn’t bring the elephant though! Do pop in and listen to him chat, no tickets required – just turn up! Organised by Waterstones.

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Tue 17
19:15 in Frederick Douglass Centre, Frederick Douglass CentreNewcastle
Launch of Newcastle Poetry Festival 2020 Programme
with John McAuliffe and Karen Solie
Link to event John McAuliffe’s new book The Kabul Olympics will be published by The Gallery Press in April 2020. Described by the PBS as ‘one of the most gifted and versatile poets of his generation’. Karen Solie was born in Moose Jaw and grew up in southwest Saskatchewan, Canada. Her fifth collection of poetry, The Caiplie Caves (Picador, 2019), was published in Canada and the UK in 2019, and shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize. Organised by Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts.

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Wed 18
16:30 in Armstrong Building, Armstrong BuildingNewcastle
Nineteenth-Century Violences
with Jennifer Aston, Sophie Franklin, Gary Hutchinson
Link to event You’re invited to join us for a research conversation, for scholars of all disciplines at any career stage, to think about different forms of violence in the nineteenth century. Three colleagues will share the ways they have conceptualised and researched violence in their own work, leading a conversation in which all attendees are invited to discuss how this is – or might be – a theme for their own project. The aim is to encourage the broadest possible discussion across disciplines, institutions, and geographies, for anybody studying any aspect of the nineteenth century. Organised by Durham University Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies.

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Wed 18
17:00 in Elvet Riverside 142, Elvet Riverside 142Durham
Water Crisis, Hydropolitics and World Literature
with Dr Sharae Deckard
Link to event The talk will examine water crisis in the era of climate emergency, exploring the cultural patterning and representations corresponding to the socio-ecological relations organizing the extraction, production, and consumption of water both as commodity and as energy in the neoliberal regime of the capitalist world-ecology. Organised by Durham University Centre for Culture and Ecology.

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Wed 18
19:00 in Waterstones, WaterstonesNewcastle
Moveable Type
with Jo Clement
Link to event Join us for the launch of Moveable Type, poet Jo Clement’s debut pamphlet, which draws on the rich heritage of her working-class Gypsy upbringing and marks an exciting new voice in contemporary poetry. Organised by Waterstones.

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Thu 19
19:00 in Pop Recs, Pop RecsSunderland
Occult Features of Anarchism
with Erica Lagalisse
Link to event Pop Recs and PM Press are teaming up to host anthropologist Erica Lagalisse as she discusses her book – “Occult Features of Anarchism”.

Come along to explore anarchist history, gender and intersectionality, secret societies, the occult, and conspiracy… Organised by PM Press.

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Thu 19
19:00 in Forum Books, Forum BooksCorbridge
The Man on the Street and Blood Orange
with Trevor Wood & Harriet Tyce
Link to event We are beyond thrilled to be joined by debut authors Trevor Wood and Harriet Tyce to talk us through their electrifying new crime thrillers, The Man on the Street and Blood Orange. Organised by Forum Books.

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Thu 26 to Fri 27
09:00 in Hatfield College, Hatfield CollegeDurham
Bibliophilia and Bibliophobia: The Inaugural Durham History of the Book Conference
with Deborah McGrady and Ada Palmer
Link to event This 2-day conference on ‘Bibliophilia and bibliophobia’ in the medieval and early modern history of the book will feature papers on the following themes: books and the emotions (books as objects or expressions of fear, hate, love, friendship, enmity…); books and devotion or obsession; book acquisition, book collecting and libraries; book burning and the destruction of books and the banning of books and censorship. Organised by Durham University Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies.

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Sat 28
14:00 in The Word, The WordSouth Shields
Eileen: The Making of George Orwell
with Richard Blair and Sylvia Topp
Link to event Sylvia will be launching and discussing her book which is the never before told story of George Orwell’s first wife, Eileen O’Shaughnessy, a woman born in South Shields who shaped, supported and even saved the life of one of the 20th century’s greatest writers. The event will also include Jarrow-born Tom Kelly ‘in conversation’ with Richard Blair and there will be an opportunity for the audience to ask their questions. There will also be a showing of Gary Wilkinson’s ‘Wildflower’ film, about Eileen O’Shaughnessy. Organised by The Word.

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Sat 28
14:00 in Alphabetti Theatre, Alphabetti TheatreNewcastle
The Crime Scene
with Oliver Harris, Judith O’Reilly, Professor Lars Holmquist
Link to event Increasingly, technology provides both the materials and the setting for criminal activity. Together, these three speakers will discuss the opportunities for digital technology as the setting for a very modern crime scene. Organised by New Writing North.

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