WoWFEST: FAHRENHEIT 2024, our 25th Annual Festival, was a resounding success, attracting over 2,500 attendees across 36 events, featuring 86 writers, artists, and performers, including 50 local talents.

Our theme couldn’t have been more prescient, as throughout the month of May we saw further evidence of the climate emergency around the world, an increase in moves to ban books in America, Israeli soldiers setting fire to libraries, and further attempts in the UK to silence protest and distract from the real problems people face by ramping up the increasingly nonsensical culture wars. The festival underscored the urgent need for change through writing, performance, and activism.

We have held events with writers from Wales, Ireland, Chicago, California and New York, and featured poetry, novels, memoir, young adult fiction, spoken word, theatre, film, protest, writing for screen, sci-fi and issue-based work uncovering coverups and censorship and a range of issues: book banning, LGBTQ+, poverty, the environment, heritage and recovering lost history and voices, cultural wars, slavery, aliens, Health, and of course Palestine.

We welcomed back long-time friends of WoW, including Irvine Welsh, Joelle Taylor, Jon Ronson, Beatrix Campbell, Michael Rosen, Salena Godden, and Professor Stephen Small and introduced influential new voices to the festival, including Jackie Kay, Jah Wobble, Kamila Shamsie, and Luke Wright.

A significant highlight was the Liverpool launch of 11 books, featuring 22 writers, including three published by Writing on the Wall: Brian Reade’s debut novel Sick Mick, Lights Bearing West by Tony Wailey, and Pulp Idol – Firsts 2024, showcasing the debut chapters of our twelve Pulp Idol finalists.

Writing on the Wall has always been rooted in social justice and collective action. This spirit was evident in events including: ‘Peace for Palestine’, with bestselling author Kamila Shamsie, Comma Press’s Basma Ghalayini, and celebrated poet Amina Atiq discussing the ongoing repression and trauma faced by the Palestinian people; ‘Poverty and Resistance’ in partnership with the Poverty Research and Advocacy Network (PRAN), ft. Prof. Danny Dorling, Prof. Imogen Tyler, Liam Thorp, Ian Byrne MP, and Amina Ismail; Three Minutes to Save The Planet, with Roger Hill, Tom George, and audiences combining poetry, proposals and discussions on what people could do to support environmentalism; Beyond a Radical Practice: A Bright Future for Primary Care? with GPs Katy Gardner, Iona Heath and Nadja Van Ginneken and Roger Phillips.

We took a long look at censorship and book banning – past, present and future, starting with an online link up with Dr Torsten Reimer, University Librarian and Dean of the University Library, and Laura Sill, Head of Acquisitions, at the University of Chicago to find out about the horrendous climate in America where over 1500 books are currently subject to being removed from shelves or banned, to find out about the University of Chicago Library’s Banned Books Initiative; ‘The Banned Book Club: Writer’s Marketplace’ featured authors, publishers, activists, and booksellers offering professional advice. Highlights included Drag Queen Storytime with the fabulous Babs Darling, a Draft Open Mic by Yvonne Battle-Felton, and the launch of Pulp Idol 2024 Firsts; finally, with Speaking Volumes, a screening and discussion of Your Local Arena: George Orwell (Part V) with Dolan Cummings, Daniel Gorman, and Sara Whyatt, exploring the parallels between Orwell’s vision and today’s reality. Poet Francesca Beard presented a new piece ‘To George Orwell’ inspired by the film.

Elevating LGBTQ+ voices was another priority, especially amid the targeting of trans rights and book bans. We collaborated with Polari, London’s award-winning LGBTQ+ literary salon, to present a dazzling lineup of local LGBTQ+ artists. Ft. Polari founder and author Paul Burston, the multi-talented Rosie Garland, Irish wordsmith Ciaran Hodgers and the legendary Gerry Potter.

A heartfelt tribute to Benjamin Zephaniah saw performances by Michael Rosen, Levi Tafari, and the new generation of Liverpool poets Amina Atiq, Blue Saint, Claire Beerjeraz, and Leonisha Barley. Our first Creative Heritage Day showcased projects like the George Garrett and Dorothy Kuya archives, featuring an expert panel discussing the preservation of marginalized histories.

We extend our deepest gratitude to all the incredible writers, artists, staff, volunteers, trustees, partners, venues, project participants, and audiences who made WoWFEST: FAHRENHEIT 2024 an unforgettable celebration of culture, performance and audience engagement.

We thank our partners who worked with us to create events: Liverpool John Moores University, University of Liverpool, Hope University and the Poverty Research Advocacy Network, Metal Liverpool, The Palm House, The Tung Auditorium, Toxteth TV, University of Chicago Libraries, Polari, Your Local Arena and Speaking Volumes, Central Library, the Smithtown Arts Hub and the Women’s organisation.

We are immensely thankful to our funders and sponsors, including Arts Council England, Culture Liverpool, Liverpool City Council, The Institute of Creative Enterprise at Edgehill University, and The British Council. Their support made this festival possible.

Special thanks go to Sarah Maclennan and The Liverpool Screen School for hosting our launch, Ged Doyle for his exceptional design work and our photographers, Zaki (@caseusphoto) and Ahmed Nadi, for capturing unforgettable moments throughout the event.

Congratulations and respect to our whole team – staff, trustees, volunteers and freelancers, who have worked tirelessly to create and deliver the festival.

Explore each event below and view more event photographs by clicking on the individual links.

 

Festival Events

Three Minutes to Save The Planet

May 2, 2024
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Buckled by Helen Jeffery

May 3, 2024
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Jon Ronson: Things Fell Apart

May 3, 2024
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The Welsh Connection

May 4, 2024
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Stephen Small: In the Shadows of the Big House

May 7, 2024
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Sarah P Corbett: Craftivism as a form of Gentle Protest

May 7, 2024
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Turning a Book into a TV Series – Ashleigh Nugent

May 8, 2024
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A Life of Rhyme – A Tribute to Benjamin Zephaniah

May 9, 2024
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Danny Morrison: The Dirty War

May 9, 2024
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Irvine Welsh: 30 years of Trainspotting

May 10, 2024
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Salena Godden: With Love, Grief and Fury 

May 11, 2024
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The Banned Book Club: Taking a Stand Against Book Bans

May 13, 2024
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It’s The End of The World and They Knew It: Dystopia – Then vs. Now

May 13, 2024
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Pity: Andrew McMillan, with Paul Farley

May 14, 2024
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Polari at Writing on the Wall

May 15, 2024
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Your Local Arena – George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four

May 16, 2024
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Our Hands, Our Mouths – Poverty and Resistance

May 17, 2024
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Rewriting the Future: Workshop with Francesca Beard

May 17, 2024
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Creative Heritage Day at WoWFEST24

May 18, 2024
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Leechcraft with David Ward  

May 19, 2024
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Warn Them of the Danger – Raymond Waring

May 20, 2024
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Lights Bearing West: Book Launch, with Tony Wailey

May 22, 2024
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Peace for Palestine

May 21, 2024
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Luke Wright’s Silver Jubilee

May 22, 2024
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From Page to Stage – online workshop with Helen Jeffery

May 23, 2024
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Beyond A Radical Practice: A Bright Future for Primary Care?

May 23, 2024
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An Evening with Jackie Kay

May 24, 2024
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Banned Book Club: Writer’s Marketplace

May 25, 2024
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Jah Wobble: Memoirs of a Geezer

May 25, 2024
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Picture of Brian Reade

Sick Mick by Brian Reade – Book Launch

May 28, 2024
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Anything for a Laugh – One Hour Theatre Company

May 28, 2024
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Beatrix Campbell: Secrets and Silence

May 29, 2024
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The Haunted Body Workshop with Joelle Taylor

May 29, 2024
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Joelle Taylor: The Night Alphabet

May 30, 2024
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