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WoWFEST21


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This year WoWFEST celebrated it’s 21st birthday with a month of inspirational writing, debate and discussion? We treated ourselves to the thoughts and ideas of some of the best minds, activists, writers and creatives in the UK and internationally today.

Though the year had been filled with Lockdowns and restrictions, our 21st-anniversary festival offered a window into another world.  One that entertained, let us reflect on the events of the past year, and looked outside to seek answers. It questioned powers, the structural disparities, endemic poverty, institutional racism and sexism, and, most importantly, demanded change.

WoWFest: 21 Years of Radical Writing, was a celebration of what we had achieved over the years, and all we stand for now and what we hope to achieve in the future – a world-class festival with community, creativity, diversity and social justice emblazoned on our banner.

We couldn’t have celebrated without you, our amazing audience and supporters and you rose to the occasion. You joined us for a dynamic festival of guests and events offering the best writing around, with a roster of brilliant high-profile guests, including leading, iconic film-makers, Booker Prize winners, legendary legal minds, musicians, spoken word artists, campaigners and activists and we are so thankful for that.

WoWFEST 21 featured over forty events featuring Ken Loach, Jon Snow, Elif Shafak, Lady Phyll, Michael Rosen, Walter Mosley, Ben Okri, Laura Bates, Douglas Stuart, Kit de Wall, Nikesh Shukla, Hassan Blasim, Maxine Hong Kingston, and many more. We tackled issues like decolonising the curriculum, systematic sexism,  LGBTQ+ rights, prison writing and prison rights. Books were launched from national and local authors– Littlewoods Pools Girls, The Rise and Fall of Princes Park Health Centre, and lots of discussions were had!  We even had

the pleasure of being joined by writers from the acclaimed Small Axe TV series as well as competitions and events for children with Michael Rosen there was lots to get involved with.

All of the books at WoWFest are still available to purchase from our fantastic Independent Liverpool Bookstore News From Nowhere. You’ll be able to find all of the books listed in this year’s lineup with our featured book page through their website here

So thank you all so much for joining us this year it was a festival we will never forget and we couldn’t have done it without you. Now we have to plan what’s next? The Writer’s Bloc returning? Black History Month? Unbeatable projects?…

Proudly supported by The Institute of Creative Enterprise at Edge Hill University’s MA in International Creative Enterprise.

This year WoWFEST celebrated it’s 21st birthday with a month of inspirational writing, debate and discussion? We treated ourselves to the thoughts and ideas of some of the best minds, activists, writers and creatives in the UK and internationally today.

Though the year had been filled with Lockdowns and restrictions, our 21st-anniversary festival offered a window into another world.  One that entertained, let us reflect on the events of the past year, and looked outside to seek answers. It questioned powers, the structural disparities, endemic poverty, institutional racism and sexism, and, most importantly, demanded change.

WoWFest: 21 Years of Radical Writing, was a celebration of what we had achieved over the years, and all we stand for now and what we hope to achieve in the future – a world-class festival with community, creativity, diversity and social justice emblazoned on our banner.

We couldn’t have celebrated without you, our amazing audience and supporters and you rose to the occasion. You joined us for a dynamic festival of guests and events offering the best writing around, with a roster of brilliant high-profile guests, including leading, iconic film-makers, Booker Prize winners, legendary legal minds, musicians, spoken word artists, campaigners and activists and we are so thankful for that.

WoWFEST 21 featured over forty events featuring Ken Loach, Jon Snow, Elif Shafak, Lady Phyll, Michael Rosen, Walter Mosley, Ben Okri, Laura Bates, Douglas Stuart, Kit de Wall, Nikesh Shukla, Hassan Blasim, Maxine Hong Kingston, and many more. We tackled issues like decolonising the curriculum, systematic sexism,  LGBTQ+ rights, prison writing and prison rights. Books were launched from national and local authors– Littlewoods Pools Girls, The Rise and Fall of Princes Park Health Centre, and lots of discussions were had!  We even had the pleasure of being joined by writers from the acclaimed Small Axe TV series as well as competitions and events for children with Michael Rosen there was lots to get involved with.

All of the books at WoWFest are still available to purchase from our fantastic Independent Liverpool Bookstore News From Nowhere. You’ll be able to find all of the books listed in this year’s lineup with our featured book page through their website here

So thank you all so much for joining us this year it was a festival we will never forget and we couldn’t have done it without you. Now we have to plan what’s next? The Writer’s Bloc returning? Black History Month? Unbeatable projects?…

Proudly supported by The Institute of Creative Enterprise at Edge Hill University’s MA in International Creative Enterprise.

Headliners Include

Laura Bates

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Clare Shaw

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Ghada Karmi

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Hannah Stone

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Maxine Hong Kingston

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Lady Phyll

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Ken Loach

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Jon Snow

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Thank You For Joining Us

Starting in

Schedule

Bloc Party with Toria Garbutt

Date: Friday, September 24, 2021

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Open House with Toria Garbutt

Date: Wednesday, September 22, 2021

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Watch Now – Storytimes

Date: Saturday, May 1, 2021

2pm

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Listen Now – Bartleby: A Tale of Wall Street

One Hour Theatre Company presents: Bartleby: A Tale of Wall Street is the first completed recording in an ongoing original audio drama project premiering at WoWFest; a unique artistic collaboration between playwright, Tom Hall, former Head of Drama at LJMU, actor David Llewellyn, composer and sound designer Andy Frizell and director and dramaturg Victor Merriman.

Date: Saturday, May 1, 2021

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Watch Now – The Sound Recordist

The Sound Recordist is the latest poetry collection from Seán Street, a sequence of work based on a life’s work in radio and a fascinating insight into British broadcasting. Join Seán and poet and editor Hannah Stone to discuss sound, silence and the power of words in contemporary society.

Date: Saturday, May 1, 2021

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Speakers

Broadcaster and journalist Jon Snow.

Jon Snow

We are delighted to welcome Jon Snow to the festival this year. As a veteran broadcaster, we can’t wait to see him deliver this urgent keynote speech about the role of the media in our lives. He’ll talk expertly about the future of broadcast journalism and how we can move…

April 5, 2021

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Writer Anne Enright

Anne Enright

Anne Enright lives and works in Dublin, where she was born. She has written two collections of stories, published together as Yesterday’s Weather, one book of non-fiction, Making Babies, and six novels, including The Gathering, which won the 2007 Man Booker Prize, The Forgotten Waltz, which was awarded the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, and The…

April 5, 2021

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Ben Okri

Ben Okri was born in Minna, Nigeria. His childhood was divided between Nigeria, where he saw first-hand the consequences of war, and London. He has won many prizes over the years for his fiction, and is also an acclaimed essayist, playwright, and poet. In 2019 Astonishing the Gods was named as one of the BBC's '100 Novels That…

April 5, 2021

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Victoria Brittain

Victoria Brittain lived and worked in Washington, Saigon, Algiers and Nairobi as a correspondent for several news media, including latterly The Guardian, where she became Associate Foreign Editor after some years based in London on the foreign desk and travelling frequently in Africa and the Middle East. After leaving the…

April 5, 2021

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Award-winning British-Turkish novelist, Elif Shafak.

Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published 18 books, 11 of which are novels. Her work has been translated into 54 languages. Her latest novel 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and RSL Ondaatje Prize;…

April 5, 2021

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Jack Byrne

Jack was born and raised in Speke Liverpool to Irish immigrant parents and knows Mersyside like the back of his hand. His debut novel Under the Bridge follows reporter Anne and student Vinny, as they become involved in a story of unions, crime, and police corruption after human remains are…

April 5, 2021

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Author Ken Loach

Ken Loach

Ken Loach was born in 1936 in Nuneaton. He attended King Edward VI Grammar School and went on to study law at St. Peter's Hall, Oxford. After a brief spell in the theatre, Loach was recruited by the BBC in 1963 as a television director. This launched a long career…

April 5, 2021

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Kit de Waal

Kit de Waal, born to an Irish mother and Caribbean father, was brought up among the Irish community of Birmingham in the 60's and 70's. Her debut novel My Name Is Leon was an international bestseller, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and…

April 5, 2021

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Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, widely known as Lady Phyll.

Lady Phyll

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah is the nucleus of the award-winning celebration and protest that is UK Black Pride. Widely known as Lady Phyll – partly due to her decision to reject an MBE in the New Year’s Honours' list to protest Britain’s role in formulating anti-LGBTQ penal codes across its empire –…

April 5, 2021

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Maxine Hong Kingston, Senior Lecturer for Creative Writing at the University of California.

Maxine Hong Kingston

Maxine Hong Kingston is Emerita Senior Lecturer for Creative Writing at the University of California, Berkeley.   For her memoirs, fiction, and poetry, The Fifth Book of Peace, The Woman Warrior, China Men, Tripmaster Monkey, I Love a Broad Margin to My Life, and Hawai’i One Summer, she has earned numerous…

April 5, 2021

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Michael Mansfield

Michael Mansfield QC was called to the Bar in 1967. He then established Tooks Chambers in 1984 and became Queen’s Counsel in 1989. Michael has represented defendants in criminal trials, appeals and inquiries in some of the most controversial legal cases the country has seen, particularly where issues of Civil…

April 5, 2021

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Michael Rosen

Michael Rosen is one of the most popular contemporary poets and authors of books for children. His titles include We're Going on a Bear Hunt which was the winner of the Smarties Book Prize (9780744523232), Michael Rosen's Sad Book (9781406313616) and Totally Wonderful Miss Plumberry (9781406305500). The presenter of "Word of Mouth"…

April 5, 2021

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Gary Younge

Gary Younge is an award-winning author, broadcaster and academic based in London. Formerly a columnist at The Guardian he has been appointed Professor of sociology at Manchester University. He is also the Alfred Knobler Fellow for Type Media in America. He has written five books: Another Day in the Death…

April 5, 2021

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Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell has campaigned for LGBT+ freedom for over half a century. He came out and began campaigning in late 1969, inspired by the post-Stonewall gay liberation protests in New York. A pioneer of the London Gay Liberation Front from 1971, his early activism challenged police harassment and gay conversion…

April 5, 2021

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Ben Hunte

A journalist and presenter, Ben Hunte is the BBC's first LGBT Correspondent, reporting on stories surrounding sexuality and gender. In July, Ben took the top spot of The Guardian and DIVA Magazine’s Pride Power List 2020. Since starting the role in April 2019, Ben has uncovered how UK universities played a…

April 5, 2021

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Roger Mcgough

Roger McGough is one of Britain’s best-loved poets. Top-selling The Mersey Sound: Penguin Modern Poets 10 with Liverpool poets Brian Patten and Adrian Henri, hits with Mike McCartney and John Gorman in The Scaffold and college touring with GRIMMS were followed by internationally acclaimed collections of poems and stories, regular broadcasts…

April 5, 2021

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Salena Godden

Salena Godden is one of Britain’s best loved poets and performers. She is also an activist, broadcaster, memoirist and essayist and is widely anthologised. She has published several volumes of poetry, the latest of which was Pessimism is for Lightweights, and a literary childhood memoir, Springfield Road. Mrs Death Misses Death is her debut novel.…

April 5, 2021

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Zoë Howe

Zoë Howe has written acclaimed biographies of artists including Poly Styrene, The Slits, the Jesus & Mary Chain, Wilko Johnson, Stevie Nicks and Lee Brilleaux. Zoë was also part of the team behind hit documentary Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché. A visual artist and sometime musician, she has worked with…

April 5, 2021

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Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley is one of the most versatile and admired writers in America. He is the author of more than sixty critically acclaimed books that cover a wide range of ideas, genres, and forms including fiction (literary, mystery, and science fiction), political monographs, writing guides including Elements of Fiction, a…

April 5, 2021

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Hannah Stone

Hannah Stone is a poet, editor, reviewer and convenor of literary events based in Leeds. She holds degrees in English Literature and Language, Theology, and Creative Writing and is an alumna of the first cohort of MA in Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University where she was a Reader in…

April 15, 2021

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Sean Street

Seán Street has published nine previous full poetry collections. His anthology, Radio Waves – Poems About the Wireless was published by Enitharmon in 2004. He has previously collaborated with guitarist and composer Neil Campbell on the CD, Estuary, which was premiered at Liverpool’s Capstone Theatre as part of WoWFest18. Works…

April 15, 2021

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Lou Fitz

Lou Fitz's journey into writing started after the birth of her second child. Thrust into a world of sleepless nights and losing her identity, she discovered writing in the early hours of dark and lonely mornings. She's been writing poetry and spoken word for a few years and has performed…

April 15, 2021

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Holly Watson

Holly Watson was born and raised in Coventry, though now lives in sunny Southend. Her novelette Never Seen The Sea came out last year through Open Pen, and follows Holly’s life growing up in Coventry during the 90’s.

April 15, 2021

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Mark Jackson

Mark Jackson grew up in North Manchester, and has been a regular contributor to the fanzine, United We Stand since 2012. His work was featured in Liverpool based fanzine, Hippo Soop fanzine has written non-fiction pieces for Vice website (which were really fiction - but they don't know that). He’s has…

April 15, 2021

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Victoria Brittain

Victoria Brittain is a former associate foreign editor of the Guardian. Her books include Hidden Lives, Hidden Deaths and Death of Dignity. After leaving the Guardian in the 1990s her work focussed mainly on the fallout of the so-called war on terror and on Palestine.

April 15, 2021

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Matt Kennard

Matt Kennard is a Bertha fellow at the Centre for Investigative Journalism. He was previously a reporter for the Financial Times and is the author of two books, Irregular Army and The Racket, which was released in 2015

April 15, 2021

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Writer Ghada Karmi

Ghada Karmi

Ghada Karmi is a leading Palestinian activist, academic and writer. She is a research fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic studies at the university of Exeter and is also vice-chair of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU) Her major area of work has been on the Palestine/Israel conflict…

April 15, 2021

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Des Freedman

Des Freedman is a Professor of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths and a founding member of the Media Reform Coalition. He is the author of books including The Politics of Media Policy (2008) and The Contradictions of Media Power (2014) and co-author of Misunderstanding the Internet (2016) and The Media…

April 15, 2021

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Douglas Stuart

Douglas Stuart was born and raised in Glasgow. After graduating from the Royal College of Art, he moved to New York, where he began a career in design. Shuggie Bain is his debut novel. It won the 2020 Booker Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Award for…

April 15, 2021

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Kerry Hudson

Kerry Hudson was born in Aberdeen and is the winner of the Scottish First Book Award, her latest book and memoir, Lowborn, takes her back to the towns of her childhood as she investigates her own past and what it means to be poor in Britain today. It was a…

April 15, 2021

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Lucienne Loh

Dr. Lucienne Loh is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Liverpool and is co-lead of the English Department's Decolonising the Curriculum Working Group. In 2018, she helped to establish the Postcolonial Studies Association and was Associate Editor of the Journal for Postcolonial Writing from 2008 to 2018.…

April 15, 2021

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Roy

Roy is not a Poet.

April 15, 2021

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Paige Henderson

Paige Henderson is a founder and Commissioning Editor at new Valley Press imprint Lendal Press, established to promote and grow voices from across the north that is “boldly literary but beautifully plainspoken”. Paige's recent acquisitions include feel-good fiction, a murder mystery and a dazzling collection of short stories.

April 15, 2021

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Kevin Duffy

Kevin Duffy began his publishing career in 1987 as a sales representative for various publishing companies before founding Bluemoose Books in 2006 with his wife Hetha. Bluemoose publishes literary fiction and are based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Their mission is to find great new writers from working class and…

April 15, 2021

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Javerya Iqbal

Javerya Iqbal is the Sales and Marketing Executive (+ Subscriptions Manager) at And Other Stories. After graduating with a BA (Joint Hons) in English Literature and Language, she interned at Granta Books, And Other Stories publishes the best in contemporary writing, including many translations. Founded in 2011, their adventurous, inspiring…

April 15, 2021

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Rawan Eisa

Rawan Eisa is Leeds based Peepal Tree Press’ Archivist and Publishing Assistant. Founded in 1985, Peepal Tree has published over 300 titles. In 2009 they launched the Caribbean Modern Classics Series, which restores to print essential books from the past with new introductions. They publish fiction, poetry and a range…

April 15, 2021

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Darren Chetty

Darren Chetty is a writer, doctoral candidate and lecturer at University College London. He has published academic work on philosophy, education, racism, children’s literature and hip-hop culture. He is a contributor to the bestselling book, The Good Immigrant, edited by Nikesh Shukla (Unbound). Darren is co-author, with Jeffrey Boakye, of…

April 15, 2021

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Nikesh Shukla

Nikesh Shukla is an author, screenwriter and one of the most prominent UK voices on diversity and inclusion in the arts. He is the editor of bestselling essay collection The Good Immigrant, which won the Reader’s Choice at the Books Are My Bag Awards, and was shortlisted for Book of…

April 15, 2021

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Chloe Cousins

Chloe Cousins, (she/her) is a youth worker and community organiser based in Manchester. Chloe is the Strategic Lead for Rainbow Noir, a social, peer support and community action group for LGBTQ people of colour and a LGBTQ youth worker and Co-Director at Colours Youth Network, a UK-based organisation supporting QTIPOC…

April 15, 2021

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Tony Wailey

Tony Wailey is the author of eight books including pocket size novels and three collections of poetry. His latest works concern the context of place in the narratives of family history; Diary of the Smyth Wailey’s and Dada (2020) deal with such narratives from the local and intense waterfront to…

April 15, 2021

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Bidisha

Bidisha is a broadcaster, journalist and film-maker. Her latest publication is The Future of Serious Art and her latest film series, Aurora, has just launched. Bidisha specialises in international human rights, social justice and the arts and offers political analysis, arts critique and cultural diplomacy tying these interests together. She writes for…

April 15, 2021

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Helen Mort

Helen Mort has published two poetry collections with Chatto & Windus, Division Street (2013) and No Map Could Show Them (2015). She won the Fenton Aldeburgh Prize for best first collection. Her novel Black Car Burning was published in 2019. She teaches creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and she…

April 15, 2021

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Dave Ward

Dave Ward is co-founder of The Windows Project and co-editor of Smoke magazine. His poetry has appeared in three collections and over 100 anthologies.

April 15, 2021

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Sarah Maclennan

Sarah Maclennan is head of Creative Writing at Liverpool John Moores University. She volunteers for Liverpool's The Dead Good Poets Society and is passionate about all forms of creative writing. She frequently facilitates events within the community; most recently with children of refugees, women who have been trafficked, and with…

April 15, 2021

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Anthony Anaxagorou

Chaired by Anthony Anaxagorou, a British-born Cypriot poet, fiction writer, essayist, publisher, and poetry educator. His second collection After the Formalities published with Penned in the Margins is a Poetry Book Society recommendation. It was selected as one of The Telegraph’s and The Guardian’s best poetry books of 2019 and…

April 15, 2021

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Steve Bell

Steve Bell is an award-winning cartoonist and winner of the British Press Awards Cartoonist of The Year, as well as the Political Cartoon Society’s Cartoon of the Year and Cartoonist of The Year, he has published 29 books. His work has appeared in The Guardian, Social Work Today, Punch, Private…

April 15, 2021

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Matt Cook

In 2020, Matt Cook was shortlisted for the Cambridge Short Story Prize. His stories have appeared in The Stockholm Review, Oblong Magazine, Number Eleven, Imbroglio, and the Cool Dog Short Story Prize, among others. Matt was also a Pulp Idol finalist in 2016, and was published in the 2017 Firsts…

April 15, 2021

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Joan Boyce

Joan Boyce

Joan Boyce was born in Liverpool. She worked in Littlewood’s Pools at the Irlam Road building in Bootle for eight years from the age of fifteen. She left to begin her family in 1959. She has three children two boys and one girl. In 1984 she returned to education at what…

April 16, 2021

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Clare Shaw

Clare Shaw has three poetry collections with Bloodaxe - Straight Ahead, Head On and Flood: her forthcoming fourth collection was awarded a Northern Writer’s Award and will be published by Bloodaxe in 2022.   As an Associate Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund, Clare is responsible for establishing writing projects in workplaces across the UK. She is co-director of the Kendal…

April 16, 2021

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Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project.

Laura Bates

Laura Bates is the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, an ever-increasing collection of over 100,000 testimonies of gender inequality, with branches in 25 countries worldwide. She is the author of Everyday Sexism, the Sunday Times bestseller Girl Up, Misogynation, The Burning and Men Who Hate Women. In 2018 she…

April 16, 2021

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Sabeena Akhtar

Sabeena Akhtar is a Writer/Editor and Literary Festival Coordinator. Currently freelancing whilst working on her debut novel, she previously worked in publishing for the radical non-profit Tilted Axis Press. She is a co-founder of the Primadonna Festival which spotlights the work of women writers and of Bare Lit Kids, the…

April 16, 2021

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Working-class feminist author Dr. Jessica Taylor.

Dr Jessica Taylor

Dr Jessica Taylor is a working-class feminist author, senior lecturer, speaker and researcher with a PhD from University of Birmingham in Forensic Psychology. In 2019, she was awarded a Fellowship of Royal Society of Arts for her contribution to feminism and psychology. She is the founder and director of VictimFocus,…

April 16, 2021

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Juan Pablo Villalobos

Juan Pablo Villalobos was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1973. He studied marketing and Spanish literature, before working as a market researcher, and writing travel stories and literary and film criticism. His books include his Guardian First Book Award-shortlisted debut Down the Rabbit Hole, as well as the critically acclaimed…

April 16, 2021

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Fernanda Melchor

Born in Veracruz, Mexico, in 1982, Fernanda Melchor is widely recognized as one of the most exciting new voices of Mexican literature. In 2018, she won the PEN Mexico Award for Literary and Journalistic Excellence and in 2019 the German Anna-Seghers-Preis and the International Literature Award for Hurricane Season.

April 16, 2021

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Francisco Carrasco

Francisco Carrasco is an international artist, cultural activist and the Creative Director and CEO of Luma Creations, an arts & cultural organisation that promotes and celebrates Latin American and Diversity arts and artists and their communities through large scale events, festivals, annual community projects and training. An international artist and…

April 16, 2021

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