Bradford Literature Festival 2018 in association with Provident Financial Group begins on Friday 29 June lasts till Sunday 8 July 2018. Asianlite reports.
Festival’s special commissions include public Bronte artwork by Kate Bush, Carol Ann Duffy, Jackie Kay and Jeanette Winterson and poetic responses to Gustav Klimt And launches ‘Takeover Challenge’ with local schools as it develops engagement with young people – Bradford students choose to create event on interracial marriage .Partnerships include Hay Festival, National Youth Theatre and Bronte Parsonage Museum
Over 500 speakers in more than 400 sessions feature in the fourth edition of Bradford Literature Festival, in association with Provident Financial Group, taking place from 29 June until 8 July 2018.
This international festival based in Bradford, has grown from an audience of 968 in 2014 to over 50,000 attendees in 2017, and is quickly establishing itself as one of the highlights of the UK’s cultural calendar. The event offers a unique opportunity to celebrate the written and spoken word in all forms and showcases the intimate relationship between words and other creative disciplines, such as art, music and film.
Participants in this year’s programme include: musician and writer Kate Bush, Kashmiri Nobel Peace Prize nominee Parveena Ahanger, novelist Jeanette Winterson, poet laureateCarol Ann Duffy, actor Robin Ince, Turkish-British writer and activist Elif Shafak, poet and novelist Ben Okri, American rock star Suzi Quatro, UK rapper Akala, former boxer Frank Bruno, Scottish writer Jackie Kay, Somali social activist Nimco Ali, Labour MP Dennis Skinner, historian David Starkey, author and actor Terry Deary and Jamaican poet Kei Miller.
Newly published books launching at Bradford Literature Festival 2018 include: The Business Plan for Peace by Dr Scilla Elworthy; Don’t Let My Past be Your Future by Harry Leslie Smith; My Mother is Not Your Mother by Margaret Hockney; and City of Sinners by Bradford’s own A. A. Dhand.
In a new landmark literary partnership, Bradford Literature Festival joins forces this year with Hay Festival; their pupil exchange programme saw ten Year 9 pupils from Bradford attend Hay Festival for two nights this May, while ten Year 9 pupils from Powys and Herefordshire attend Bradford Literature Festival in June. Other partners for Bradford Literature Festival this year include National Youth Theatre, Outspoken, Speaking Volumes and the Bronte Parsonage Museum.
A new commission this year by Bradford Literature Festival is a permanent multi-site public art installation celebrating the Brontë sisters. The project features four new, original works of writing engraved onto stones set into different locations in the rugged landscape of Yorkshire that the Brontës themselves immortalised with novels such as Jane Eyre andWuthering Heights. The captivating journey along the four points, of approximately 8 miles, form what is believed to have been the route the sisters themselves often took between their home in Thornton and the family parsonage in Haworth.
Of the four commissioned pieces, three of the works (by Kate Bush, Carol Ann Duffy and Jackie Kay) respond to one of the Brontë sisters each (Emily, Charlotte and Anne, respectively), while the fourth (by Jeanette Winterson) responds to the Brontë legacy as a whole. Several other special events are also programmed at the festival in homage to Bradford’s historical connection to the Brontë sisters, this year focusing on the bicentenary of Emily Brontë.
Another Bradford Literature Festival commission for 2018 is a selection of film poems responding to the paintings of Gustav Klimt, the crowning jewel in Austria’s symbolist movement. On the 100th anniversary of his death, the festival has asked poets Aviva Dautch, Jo Brandon and Shazea Quraishi to write new poetic answers to some of Klimt’s masterpieces.
Further developing its innovative approach to engaging young people, Bradford Literature Festival launches the new Schools Takeover Challenge which offers a group of students aged 16-17 the chance to curate and manage their own session to feature on the official festival programme. The session this year tackles the subject of interracial marriage, from Othello and Desdemona to Prince Harry and Megan Markle. The young curators are responsible for all aspects of the event, from pitching the concept and identifying and inviting speakers, to marketing and logistics, in a step towards becoming the festival-makers of the future.
The festival’s schools programme, which reaches upwards of 20,000 students this year, welcomes authors such as Terry Deary, creator of the Horrible Histories series, and Johnny Duddle, winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize.
The diverse themes at Bradford Literature Festival 2018 range from scientific explorations of gene therapy in the context of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to conversations between leading crime fiction writers. Major political anniversaries are remembered as the festival marks: the centenary of the start of women’s suffrage in Britain, and of the First World War’s Armistice; 50 years since the assassination of Martin Luther King; 20 years since the Stephen Lawrence enquiry; and Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday. Discussions about the state of Jerusalem today sit alongside debates around the idea of ‘stateless’ nations such as Kashmir, Tibet, Kurdistan and Palestine. The festival partners with Speaking Volumes to mark the anniversary and explore the legacy of Empire Windrush through discussion, music and performance rooted in Caribbean culture.
This year’s programme features two tandem events exploring some of the key influences of Bradford-born artist David Hockney. The first examines the poetry that has inspired David Hockney throughout his career, in a unique event taking place at Bradford Cartwright Hall’s Hockney Gallery. The second event sees the launch of Margaret Hockney’s compelling memoir My Mother is Not Your Mother, which unpicks the home life of the Hockney family, Margaret’s experience growing up with three brothers (including the enigmatic David), and her troubled relationship with their mother.
As always, poetry is a fundamental part of Bradford Literature Festival. 1970s American rock star Suzi Quatro launches ‘Songbook’, a new annual event, which celebrates the lyrics and influences of a major songwriter. Poetic responses to the First World War’s Armistice are heard at an event presented in partnership with Hay Festival and the United Nations, and Festival favourites like Poetry with a Punch, Sacred Poetry and Lyrical Mehfil also return for another year. Confirmed poets include Ben Okri, Kei Miller, Don Paterson, Vahni Capildeo and Joanna Hoffman.
Discussions on world affairs and politics this year include Bradford’s involvement in the campaign for nuclear disarmament, the media’s role in fuelling Islamophobia, Europe’s love affair with the far-right and a satirical exploration of Jeremy Corbyn’s superhero persona in The Corbyn Comic Book. The festival has attracted politicians and activists such as Dennis Skinner, Nimco Ali and Parveena Ahanger.
Other returning regular strands Mysticism and Philosophy, Future Living, and Ethics & Faith provides a vast array of events on topics ranging from the dystopic nature of the digital space to Rumi on the mystery of being human, from the intersection between climate change and race to the realities of a robopocalypse.
“The festival was set up as a response to the challenges society faces, on a local and global level. Writers and poets have always been our conscience, providing the vision and clarity necessary for critical self-evaluation and growth. This year’s programme exemplifies the festival ethos of reflecting society as a whole, giving a platform to artists from an extraordinary range of backgrounds, nations, cultures, and perspectives. The festival is especially proud to bring to the fore marginalised voices who offer audiences the opportunity to understand our world in new, and unexpected, ways. At a time when imagination and empathy are crucial tools for tackling the big issues of our time, Bradford Literature Festival seeks to create a space where ideas and stories can lead to mutual understanding. The festival offers hope, passion and excitement to our audiences, and we hope they will leave challenged, inspired and uplifted.” said Syima Aslam, director of Bradford Literature Festival.
“We have seen the Bradford Literature Festival excel with every year, becoming an annual highlight not only for Bradford, but the national literature landscape. The city becomes a hub of culture, with a unique and diverse programme of social inclusion and educational events, which support and enhance Provident Financial’s own work within local communities. With our continued support, we hope to enable the festival to deliver even more eclectic and inspiring events in the coming years.” said Malcolm Le May, CEO, Provident Financial Group.