Who's coming to HLF2016? Preview report
by Alicia Bruce, Volunteer Committee member
On the evening of 25 November, a wonderfully eclectic gathering of bibliophiles descended on Huddersfield to talk all things literary.
There were authors, readers, school students, university students, writing groups, and general fans of all things literary.
We had the honour of having Councillor Paul Kane, Mayor of Huddersfield, to open the preview evening.
He spoke very proudly about the town and about what the festival means to Huddersfield. He praised the festival for its longevity, for going from strength to strength over the past 10 years, putting its success partly down to the varying range of authors and events.
Our Top Ten
We promised you announcements galore for our tenth anniversary and we think it’s fair to say, we didn’t disappoint. Let’s take a look at the top 10 events that we have lined up for you in 2016, as presented by our festival committee.
1. Michelle Hodgson, Festival Director kicked off the proceedings the only way one should, with a cardboard cut-out of explorer, TV presenter and writer, Levison Wood. He will be at the festival with his book Walking through the Himalayas on 9 February 2016 at Huddersfield Town Hall to coincide with National Libraries Day. This event will be supported by Kirklees library services.
2. Jim was next with a slightly more sinister event. Location Location Location. No, Kirsty and Phil will not be gracing us with their presence. We have the much more intriguing and thrilling panel of writers, Christopher Fowler, Frances Brody and Tom Harper who will be discussing the importance of setting in crime fiction and thrillers on 12 March 2015.
3. Amy persuaded us all to go see the Polari Up North event on 5 March 2016. This will be a cabaret style event with four LGBT writers, presented by Polari host Paul Burston, celebrating diverse voices in an inclusive way.
4. Michelle then returned to the stand to talk about the Festival Director’s choice. She began by setting the scene of Katherine Carlyle, the new novel by one of her favourite writers, Rupert Thomson. The novelist will be in conversation with the author of The North Water, Ian McGuire, on 12 March 2016.
5. Next, we learnt about The Pearls Project, brainchild of Theatre Director Amanda Huxtable. It is a celebration of those pearls of wisdom that we pick up from books, art and poetry that stay with us throughout our lives. Here asylum seeker Passy Kulimushi took to the stage to recite his poem. It was beautifully delivered and had the audience rapt. As Michelle said, I’m sure it will become one of your pearls.
6. Emma talked enthusiastically about our Charlotte Brontë event on 12 March 2016 to commemorate the bicentenary of the writer’s birth. Biographer, Claire Harman will discuss her new biography of Charlotte Brontë with local legend, bestselling author Joanne Harris, who has previously made a film about the mystery surrounding Charlotte’s death, which will be shown at the event.
7. Liz announced a very exciting opportunity for festivalgoers to enter Beaumont Park’s Beautiful Poetry Trail Competition. Friends of Beaumont Park are working in partnership with Huddersfield Literature Festival on this project. The deadline is 25 December and the winner will be announced by Joanne Harris on 5 March.
8. Vivienne told us all about an event on 8 March 2016: our Festival Patron Lemn Sissay will be chatting with Asfa-Wossen Asserate, whose biography of his great-uncle Haile Selassie, King of Kings, is just out.
9. Cat asked us, if you were to go back in time, where would you choose? She then took us back to the land of the ancient pharaohs, which is the setting for Professor Joann Fletcher’s new book. On 5 March 2016, the writer, TV presenter and renowned Egyptologist from Yorkshire will be at the festival to talk about her new book, which reveals the secrets of Ancient Egypt.
10. Last but not least, Shirley told us all about Ben Miller; comedian, actor and physics wizard. On 10 March 2016, Ben will be landing in Huddersfield to talk about his new book The Aliens are Coming! and to discuss the question, “Are we alone in the universe?”
Also at Huddersfield Literature Festival 2016, there will be:
• Creative writing workshops
• Michael Stewart, creative writing lecturer at Huddersfield University will be launching his new book
• Open Mic Night/ Pecha Kucha / Poetry Slam
• Music/ Book Pub Quiz and a talk on John Peel
• Family Day including a free film and children’s activities
• Literary Afternoon Tea
• Joanne Harris and the Storytime Band
• 101 Greatest Plays with Michael Billington
• Harold Wilson lecture with Alan Johnson MP
Additionally, Michael Stewart from Huddersfield University talked about a set of workshops taking place on 5 December 2014 at the university celebrating the short story. There will be writers talking about the past, present and future of the short story. You can pay per event or buy a day ticket for just £15. Bargain!
What the audience said
We spoke to a very enthusiastic group of North Huddersfield Trust School (NHTS) students who particularly enjoyed hearing Passy Kulimushi’s poem, “you could hear the emotion in his voice!”. They were very complimentary of the food from 10 different countries, which was provided by HLF16 volunteers. When they were asked which events they would be attending in March, they were all very excited to see Joanne Harris who has recently visited the school to lead a workshop.
Some of our audience members were interested in the Huddersfield Literature Festival as a way to focus on something they enjoy and getting their head out of work mode. There was also a lot of enthusiasm about getting involved in some creative writing workshops.
Tickets can be bought for the An Evening With Levison Wood right now from the Town Hall and the rest will be available online, by phone or in person at the LBT between now and January. Make sure you don’t miss out! Keep an eye out for event information and tickets on the website and social media.