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Hastings Literary Festival unveils 2021 programme

Hastings Literary Festival has announced this year’s programme. Halted last year due to Covid-19, it is back from 23 to 25 September, with renewed vigour. HOT’s Lauris Morgan-Griffiths takes a browse through the programme.

Dedicated to writing and the written word, it sounds an interesting festival programme, with author talks, writing workshops, performances and ‘meet the agent’ sessions for budding writers. Understandably, after Lockdown and the restrictions of the last year, the festival is smaller this year – ­events will be at St Mary in the Castle and Kino-Teatr – celebrating the power and pleasure of writing, as well as supporting and encouraging local writing talent.

Festival patron Sir David Hare talks about his first book of poetry. Some private and personal poems were read publicly for the first time ever by actor Julian Sands at the inaugural festival. Poems are now published in a book We Travelled, alongside a series of essays ranging in subject matter from the photographer Lee Miller and actress Sarah Bernhardt to the paedophile Jimmy Savile.

Another of the highlights will be the appearance of Monique Roffey, Costa Book of the Year award winner for Mermaid of Black Conch, which was recently read on BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime. She will be discussing the challenges of writing about masculinity with The Book of Man website founder Martin Robinson.

Also featured are journalist Lucy Mangan, who will be discussing her passion for books and her forthcoming first novel Are We Having Fun Yet? with festival director Sam Davey.

Page to film

Over the years there have been many adaptations from page to film. It seems the more literary the novel, the more difficult it has been to successfully bring the written word to film and remain faithful to the spirit of the novel. The Guardian’s chief film critic Peter Bradshaw will talk about the challenges and pitfalls of film dramatisation.

A subject close to Hastings hearts will be the discussion and readings with broadcaster and poet Bidisha and poet and teacher David Herd from Refugee Tales IV on the real experiences of anonymous refugees. Other artists appearing include poet Jessica Mookherjee and author Michèle Roberts.

The Bavard Bar gets in on the act, with festival finale Bedtime Stories. It will be an evening of saucy and salacious literary fun, hosted by Bavard Bar compere Tim B’vard and featuring writer and comedian VG Lee, author and poet Penny Pepper, musician Bev Lee Harling and singing ‘nun’ Sister Mary.

Festival priority

A festival priority is to encourage  – and welcome – new voices and emerging authors. A popular feature has been the one-to-one meet the agent sessions, conducted this year by DHH agent Tom Drake-Lee. He can boast three decades of book publishing, helping promote many internationally known authors, until he left in 2021 to become an agent. He is looking for fiction with compelling plots, narrative and characters which illuminate the human condition, as well as non fiction with writing themes of nature, memoir, popular science and history

An expert panel featuring Drake-Lee, novelist and New Writing South programme manager Sharon Duggal and spoken word poet Pete the Temp will offer new writers the chance to understand publishing from all sides. They’ll also discuss how the pandemic has affected the industry.

A revealing workshop led by Sussex-based novelist Beth Miller will spill the beans on Writing Sizzling Sex Scenes, and avoiding running the risk of winning the unwanted accolade of the Bad Sex in Fiction Award.

Festival founder and director Sam Davey says: “This year’s festival was a leap of faith given all the uncertainty, and the health and safety of our audiences, performers and volunteers has been absolutely paramount in our planning. Despite that the team have worked really hard to bring together an exciting, diverse and hugely entertaining programme.”

Events are at St Mary in the Castle and Kino-Teatr. Tickets are available here


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Posted 19:03 Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021 In: Festivals

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