Reading Literature Festival 2016

Tickets for Reading Literature Festival 2016 go on sale today. Thursday 1 September

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Growing out of Reading Poetry Festival’s three successful years from 2013-15, the first Reading Literature Festival, from 4 to 13 November 2016, brings together many of the most exciting talents in contemporary writing from across the UK and abroad. Those appearing include Fleur Adcock, Kate Behrens, Justyna Bargielska, Jonathan Coe, Claire Dyer, Gill Learner, Theresa Lola, Mairi MacInnes, Jamie McKendrick, Hollie McNish, Wendy Meddour, Alice Oswald, Sudeep Sen, Dan Simpson, and Penelope Skinner. The events, taking place across the town, include discussions and readings, interviews with authors, creative writing workshops, film screenings, and a writing competition.

Directed by Sam Morrish, currently at work on her doctorate at the University of Reading, the first Reading Literature Festival is planned as a contribution to Reading’s Year of Culture, and a town and university collaboration supported by the University of Reading and its Committee for the Arts, the newly founded Heritage and Creativity Institute, the School of Literature and Languages, and the Department of English Literature.

Reading Literature Festival’s roots in the previous Poetry Festivals continue to flourish. It opens with the annual Gerald Finzi Lecture, on Friday 4 November, showcasing the celebrated poet Alice Oswald, who has links to the town, and will speak about her art and read from her work. She will also present the prizes for a local schools’ writing competition whose theme is ‘My Reading’.

Highlights include discussions of their work with the stage and screenwriter Penelope Skinner, on Wednesday 9th, and with the internationally best-selling novelist Jonathan Coe on Saturday 12th. The children’s fiction-writer Wendy Meddour, who recently took up a lectureship at the University, will lead an event for local schools, offer a creative writing workshop, and, with award-winning poet and translator Peter Robinson, judge the writing competition.

There are two events highlighting spoken word poetry, currently thriving in Reading, featuring Hollie McNish, Theresa Lola, and Dan Simpson on Friday 11 November, and a presentation of local performance poets mentored by McNish on Sunday 13th. Also on Sunday, Reading’s own poetry publisher, Two Rivers Press, whose national profile has risen recently thanks to prominent reviews in the THES and the TLS, will present new books by four of its poets published this year. The Festival also hosts a reading of new fiction writers showcased by the Newbury-based publisher Holland House Books.

The emphasis on internationalism in previous festivals continues in Saturday’s programme with a centenary celebration of the Italian writer Giorgio Bassani, the film of whose most famous novel The Garden of the Finzi-Contini is discussed and shown the previous Monday. This celebration includes accounts of his poetry and fiction, as well as his work as an editorial advisor for Feltrinelli – which included the discovery and promotion of Lampedusa’s classic, The Leopard. Jamie McKendrick, currently retranslating all Bassani’s fiction for Penguin Books, will be among the contributors.

Timely, in the light of the recent referendum result, is Saturday afternoon’s symposium on English language poetry and its relations with Europe and the world, featuring Fleur Adcock (New Zealand/UK), Justyna Bargielska (Poland) and her translator Maria Jastrzębska (Poland/UK), Jamie McKendrick (UK), and Sudeep Sen (India), in which they will discuss this urgent issue with Steven Matthews and give readings from their own work.

The Reading Literature Festival 2016 promises a great range of encounters covering writing of many kinds, and events for all ages, featuring writers from across the globe and close to home.

For updates and ticket information find us on Facebook: /Reading Literature Festival, follow us on Twitter @RdgLitFest and visit our Website:




About Cindy

Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading. Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
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