Wednesday 29 March 2017

What to Expect From the Upcoming Shrewsbury BookFest

For 18 years Shrewsbury Bookfest has brought the world of books alive for children, giving them the chance to meet inspirational authors and create a grass roots literary culture that is the first of its kind.

This year the festival welcomes an eclectic mix of authors and creatives from April 28th – May 7th for talks, workshops and interactive storytelling, tickets to which can be bought here, but move fast as they are quickly selling out!

We caught up with the festival co-ordinator, Joanna Hughes, to hear how Bookfest has grown from its humble beginnings in 1999 to now attract the biggest names in literary entertainment.

Tell us a little about the history of Shrewsbury Bookfest.

Back in 1999, a small group of friends thought it would be fun to invite some favourite children’s authors and illustrators to come for a weekend in Shrewsbury, to talk about their books and their lives and give local children a chance to meet them. And so they did. It was such a success that families asked for it to happen again the next year … and the next …  And so the Shrewsbury Children’s Bookfest May Festival was born; the first – and for many years the only – annual literary festival for children in the country.

And here we still are, 18 years on, having brought almost every leading figure in children’s books to Shrewsbury. Every event we hold gives children the chance to meet their literary heroes and discover their own creative potential in the process.

That our May Festival continues to attract the generous support of leading local businesses is testament to just how popular and well-established it has become. The fact that so many leading lights in children’s literature appear so regularly on our programme demonstrates the respect we have won among authors, illustrators and publishers alike. And most importantly of all, the consistent, enthusiastic and wonderful support of our audiences ensures the festival remains popular, inspiring and FUN.

What can we expect in 2017?

Shrewsbury Bookfest has always been an independent, not-for-profit organisation, run primarily by a small group of volunteers. In 2007 we obtained charitable status.  In 2009 we won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the equivalent of an MBE and the highest award that can be given to a voluntary organisation.

Through a series of regular projects with schools and families, Shrewsbury Bookfest’s aim is to bring the world of books alive for children in Shropshire; to inspire, entertain and enthuse them with a life-long love of reading

Shrewsbury Bookfest’s May Festival 2017 is being kicked off by Clare Balding, ready to set the festival off at full gallop with her wonderful tales of her childhood, her dreams and ambitions and of course her new book for children. Aardman Animations make a welcome return to show us how to make ‘Gromit’ and how we might become animators ourselves, while Harry Potter fans must make room on their timetable to explore his magical world with ‘Professor Potter’. Renowned Horrible Histories illustrator Martin Brown guarantees gales of laughter during his action-packed event which promises to unlock the artist in all of us, while the timeless tale The Tiger Who Came to Tea, will be brought to life with a very special visit from a very lifelike wild animal ... CBeebies’ presenter Ben Faulks invites us to wade in our wellies through a very muddy adventure, while two award-winning, gifted dream-weavers – Katherine Rundell and Emma Carroll - will be revealing their innermost magical secrets in a panel event. And finally, a child’s ear for rhyme can’t be denied, so ‘Let the Good Rhymes Roll’ will spark your young ones’ innermost poet.

If you were going to recommend three key events, which would they be?  

Clare Balding because it will be such a treat to hear as good a speaker as she come to Shrewsbury to share her life story with a young audience; an opportunity to work with a world class model maker such as Aardman and finally hear and ask questions of two dynamic, inspiring and talented storytellers in Katherine Rundell and Emma Carroll. 

Tell us something about Shrewsbury we wouldn’t know.  

Shrewsbury was transformed into Victorian London for the 1984 filming of Charles Dickens's classic tale, A Christmas Carol. Shrewsbury was one of Dickens's favourite places, so it was appropriate that the film should be made there. The money he made from the book paid for him to get out of debt and out of debtors' prison. The grave of Ebenezer Scrooge can still be seen in the churchyard of St Chad's Church in Shrewsbury.

Thursday 23 March 2017

Hidden Gems March

Here at BookGig we know that sometimes you want to take a break from the norm, let your hair down and try something a little bit different. With that in mind, these events are just some of the hidden gems on the site, handpicked from lesser known sources and brought to your attention! So, take a look and attend an event, or two, or even three …

Poetry is cool again thanks to Bang Said the Gun - the number one best poetry night as voted by The Times. Advertised with the tagline ‘poetry for people who don’t like poetry’ but recommended by laureates and celebrities alike, it has outgrown its aloof message – it must be cool. The events feature both headline spoken word artists and ‘Raw Meat Stew’ open mic spots for anyone brave enough to enter what spoken word seasoned vet Kate Tempest describes as ‘mud wrestling with words’. Dates are spread across the UK and occur every last Thursday of the month, so head down with the hoards if you know what’s cool for you. 

There are few better ways to spend a night than in a pub after hours, so this literary lock-in is a must for anyone in the Dundee area with a thirst for more than just the written word. Held at the namesake pub of the legendary George Orwell, this is a great opportunity for writers, readers, students, librarians, and all other book heads to mingle, relax, and keep the festivities of the Dundee Literary Festival going until the very end.

Take a dip into the rich, chocolate flavoured culture pool of Brixton at this live performance event with a side of chocolate, expert cakes and pastries courtesy of the hosts at Brixton Blend Café. Whatever your spoken word forte, be it poetry, storytelling, or aided by acoustic music, come and showcase your skills in the company of the iconic David Bowie mural, or simply join in by eating, listening and drinking.

The once palpitating heart of Punk Rock has arguably all but stopped in the UK these days, but once at the centre of its every beat was Stephen Micalef, a writer and prominent personality found in the legendary Punk fanzine Sniffin’ Glue. In store at Housmans Bookshop, Steve will be resuscitating the glory days of Punk with a reading of poems that encapsulate 10 months amidst the raw power of a musical movement the ripples of which are still felt today.

Beautiful greenery, chilled vibes and a light refreshment are on the menu at an evening with Gynelle Leon, the founder of London’s first all-cactus, aptly named flower shop – PRICK. Join the history making Gynelle for a relaxed chat on all things travel, culture, and of course, cacti.  

Come and support one of the delicatessens of the publishing world Bluemoose Books as they host a salon to promote their independent publishing house with an array of author readings and anecdotes of attempts to take on the publishing world. Kevin and Hethy Duffy founded Bluemoose back in 2007 and have since achieved incredible success with numerous authors on leading prize shortlists, so this event particular appeals to those taking babysteps in indie publishing who will go away with a new arrow in their quiver to start their own war with major publishers.

London is full of secret and unknown spaces created in the wake of vast and rapid economic and cultural change, and here’s your chance to hear all about where to find your own forgotten part of the city. This talk features numerous voices from the book Art Night: Expanding the City’s Boundaries in which essays from acclaimed architects and urbanists argue for public art being a tool for safety, inclusion and inspiration. You are invited to discover a forgotten London well worth remembering.

Perhaps the publishing world wont admit the genius of your novel, and you haven't the expenses to buy your own printing press, or maybe you're just curious, in any case, come along to this event where you can learn to lovingly handcraft and bind your stories into a book. 

A journey through T.S Eliot’s The Waste Land can be an uneasy one, but this event hopes to restore some balance to your footing with a walk through some of the sites that inspired the aesthetic of Eliots renowned poem.  Visits will be paid to important architectural sites that offer a tangible insight into the inspiration that London lent to The Waste Land, while readings will be performed in the hope of enlightening many themes and ideas through group discussion. So come and let your imagination fly through Eliot’s Unreal City.