Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Chester Literature Festival was born 20 years ago when a small band of creative folk joined together and forged their dream.
Thanks initially to those caring and hardworking folk, it's now a well known and well respected Festival (led by an equally devoted team) and now attracting visitors from far and wide.
And this year should be no exception.
It's particularly exciting as the Festival gains a new element. The innovation for 2008 is a Performance W/End: Chester Oyez! ( And yes, we DO have a town crier... because we're a striking medieval city with river, Rows, Cathedral, Cross, Walls...all worth seeing!)
Chester Oyez ! takes place Saturday Oct 18th/Sunday 19th. It celebrates the spoken word in lots of ways, in lots of places tucked away throughout the city.
Places include the famous old Rows, a huge Storytelling tent set up on Cathedral Green and also various fascinating spooky black/white pubs (!)....
And there's Open Mic at the Bull and Stirrup, flash fiction for adults as well as stuff for children, there are poets who'll pop up and surprise you! (Adam Khan, Ben Crystal, amongst others) and drama and poetry workshops. One will be run by ex Cheshire Poet Laureate John Lindley in Alexander's Juice Bar, also regular home to Gill McEvoy's " Zest!" who have their own special session on the Sunday evening.
There's Shakespeare on Toast, Spell Binding Tales for Teens, Dead Good Poets Society ( fabled Liverpudlians) a showcase for Cinnamon Press, and there's Bangladeshi Poetry...I could go on, but best to look at www.chesterfestivals.co.uk/literature for a fuller picture.
But just to tempt you further: Participants for the w/end include Lemn Sissay, Luke Wright, Rose Lugosi, Mandy Coe, David Bateman...
And NB NB NB: ( as in oyez! oyez! oyez!) The main festival includes this year: Kate Long, Russell Bowes, Chris Patten, David Owen, Martin Bell, Esther Rantzen, Michael Morpurgo, Anne Stevenson, Ffion Hague...and more celebrities, plus welcome inclusion of local groups, Chester Poets and Chester Writers.
See the above link again for full details on both Programme/Booking.


Blogger Debs said...

Your literary festival sounds as if it's going to be great fun, I wish I could go too.

12:48 pm  
Blogger Sarah Laurence said...

Jan, the festival sounds fun. I love that you have a town crier. Enjoy!

12:34 am  
Blogger Catherine said...

It sounds terrific, maybe one day I will be able to visit Chester at festival time.
We have a Town Crier in Christchurch, too. We also had a wizard, though I think he's pretty much retired now.

9:42 am  
Blogger Rob Hopcott said...

An interesting post :-)

Although I'm an avid visitor of music festivals (folk), I have never found an incentive to go to any literary festivals.

The thought of mixing with fellow writers the way I mix with fellow musicians, of course, is exciting but I wonder to what extent can it be participative. (I prefer to play my instruments in open pub sessions rather than go to concerts at the music festivals.)

As an extremely active online writer who rarely meets other authors except across cyberspace, I would welcome the opportunity for more face to face contact.

My question is would literary festivals achieve this?

9:55 am  
Blogger apprentice said...

I'm so jealous about Anne Stevenson being there, I really love her work.

And my friend saw David Owen in Edinburgh and enjoyed his piece on people in power and ill health, I think Kennedy is one of the figures he features.

It doesn't seem a year since you blogged on this festival, another sign of old age, hey ho!

12:17 pm  
Blogger dinzie said...

That town crier looks very different (and slimmer) from the one I remember all thoseyears back :O)

Those cats travel a lot don't they - We often see Him in pictures around the world :O)


12:25 pm  
Blogger Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Wow, that sounds amazing, Jan - I'm sure it's going to be great fun.
I love it that you have a town crier! In a coastal village an hour away from here they have a whale crier - who announces the arrival of whales in the bay!

3:07 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Not forgetting Alan Wall, Caroline Smailes, Gee Williams, David Whitley, Nick Crane and Paul Parsons ...

You make it sound wonderful, Jan!

5:37 pm  
Blogger herhimnbryn said...

Sigh. Sounds wonderful and isn't he a handsome Town Fellow in all his garb?

12:17 am  
Blogger Jan said...

Wish you could!

Sarah L:
Your posting ( cricket pavilion) brilliant.
I hope other folk reading this will have a look.

Hope you do visit Chester.
I've heard Christchurch NZ bears a little resemblance??

I think some festivals would. Of course ( as in everything) much depends on the personalities/characters of organisers and participants themselves ( some writers are quiet/reserved, others...one could say.. ebullient in the extreme!)
Some writers ( in their talks, performances) fully engage audience ( through participation, questions etc) and that's great...others merely give much food for thought in a more tranquil way and I suppose that's equally valuable.
Some writers,too, hang about informally to talk with folk ( before/after events) and that can be useful/interesting.
Workshops are excellent too. The group engage with each other just as much as the "tutor" and that's valuable as it leads to exchanging not just ideas/knowledge but also enthusiasm!!
This year Chester includes its Spoken Word element and this Hopefully will achieve exactly what you would like to see.
And you mention music festivals...where the instruments do the talking/make the links....hopefully WORDS themselves will do this equally well... at a literary festival with performance, workshops etc..

Thanks for this.
I would love to see/hear A Stevenson.
Thankyou for whetting appetites for David Owen's visit!

My cats are elderly 13 yr old tabby sisters.
Their garden is their world these days!

Can Chester borrow your whale crier for next year please!?

Thanks Dr D.
There are so many names of excellent stature so thankyou for even more!

Bet he'd look great in YOUR socks though!!

3:34 pm  
Blogger Kay said...

We have an Arts festival coming up - I feel exhausted just thinking about it! I admire your energy ... I know you will enjoy every minute. I am going to see a local production of 'Cats' tonight - maybe that will be my lot. (If I sound tired, it's probabaly because I am!)

4:19 am  
Blogger Kay said...

Not sure if a comment I made on this made it through so please forgive any repeats. Enjoy your festival! I admire your energy - I feel tired and with an arts festival coming to our city next month, am finding it hard to rustle up as much enthusiasm as you have for yours (shame on me!)

4:23 am  
Blogger Jan said...

Oh Dear!
Hope you're more energised by the time you're reading this Kay!
Your postings certainly belie your tiredness...you always sound wonderful.
Hope you enjoyed CATS.
I loved it ( being a Cat Person)
...We once had our very own Magical Mr Mistoffeleees ( sp???)
who was actually a sleekly elegant black cat called Claud.

9:33 am  
Blogger Minx said...

Every county should have its own lit fest - I am only ever a little disheartened when it comes to price (Port Eliot, Cornwall, was £139 for the weekend) - don't they know writers are skint?

7:06 pm  
Anonymous marly said...

Oh, I loved my three days in Chester. Long ago. I'd like to be there for this and meet you and Clare...

2:33 am  
Blogger carole said...

Glad to see you're still blogging and that the Arts are flourishing in Chester.I'm just getting back into blogging after a three month's break.

I might come up to Manchester for the Literature Festival there as my younger son now lives there...and I have a six month old grandson there.

4:54 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

When one of my sons lived in Cornwall, we intended going to the Port Elliot Festival.
Am I right in thinking it has strong emphasis on supporting new/young/emerging writers?

When were you here?
Was it passing through?
What did you think?
Very different from your roots...

LOvely to hear from you and hope to keep in touch.

8:55 pm  

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