JANET Street Porter, former drug smuggler Howard Marks, Mirror Columnist Brian Reade and Costa Book Prize Winner AL Kennedy are among the diverse and radical line up headlining the city’s 14th annual ‘Writing on the Wall’ Festival which begins next week.
As the demand for food banks increases and the bedroom tax prompts families to take to the streets to protest, the theme “Under Pressure” runs through the always thought-provoking festival.
WoW will also launch a new take on a popular TV show with ‘Dragon’s Pen’ – an event featuring established writers including AL Kennedy, Esther Wilson, Kate Haldane and Gordon Wise.
Writers will be pitching their work to win the ‘Dragons’ approval.
AL Kennedy said: "I'm always delighted to come to Liverpool - it's a great and creative city with fantastic audiences. I'm equally happy to be involved in an excellent literary festival and anything that may encourage new writing at a time when many areas of UK life are being pressured in very uncreative ways."
A packed month featuring a record 36 events includes: Janet Street Porter; Melvyn Bragg; Brian Reade; AL Kennedy; Howard Marks; Kevin Sampson; Bidisha; Helen Walsh; Rahila Gupta; Esther Wilson; John Burnside; Levi Tafari ; Rita Ann Higgins; Bolshy; Dave Haslam; Peter Hooton.
“Our programme is as diverse as ever from debates about class, hate crime and modern football to workshops around writing and baking bread!” said Madeline Heneghan, festival director.
“Writing on the Wall always tries to reflect the concerns of the times we live in, and this year is no exception with our ‘Under Pressure’ theme which many people will undoubtedly relate to.”
“The events we have planned will be as ground-breaking and innovative as ever and we are passionate about promoting and supporting new writers which is always a major theme.”
The WoW team has also been commissioned to support the new ‘In Other Words’ festival celebrating the opening of the newly refurbished Central Library.
“Whilst this festival overlaps WoW, the ‘Writing on the Wall’ has an identity of its own, supported and appreciated by many people across Merseyside for whom the event has become an annual, landmark event,” added Madeline.
Janet Street Porter tackling the thorny issue of class, whilst Melvyn Bragg will discuss dementia, the theme of his latest novel.
Mirror columnist Brian Reade will return to his home city to debate the phenomenon of modern football, whilst hate crime will be under the spotlight with Dominique Walker, sister of murdered Anthony. Howard Marks will be talking about his extraordinary life as an international cannabis smuggler and discussing his book, Mr Nice.
Horror writer James Herbert, who died last month, had been due to appear at the festival A special tribute event will now be held in honour of the best-selling author and his work.
Guardian journalist Bidisha will be joined by Liz Kelly and Rahila Gupta to discuss the ‘One Billion Rising’ women’s movement.
WoW’s acclaimed writing competitions Pulp Idol (for novelists) continues to grow, whilst this year’s Flash Fiction competition has a horror theme – ‘Flash in the Dark’ which is being judged by Merseyside’s own award-winning horror writer Ramsey Campbell.
Other events will include ‘White Men Can’t Jump’ with DJ Derek, Dave Haslam, Les Spaine and Bolshy, discussing the role of white ‘champions of black music, whilst a Victorian circus troupe will entertain at the launch of Rosie Garland’s debut novel ‘The Palace of Curiosities.’
Writing on the Wall, a not for profit organisation, is part of the Art Council England’s national portfolio of 696 organisations, in recognition of its success in encouraging new writing; young writers; hidden histories; radical writing; linking communities and empowering women.
WOW launches with a ‘March for Words’ from St Luke’s Church to Central Library on Wednesday, 1st May.
To find out more about all the events during the Writing on the Wall festival or for more information on how to enter the writing competitions check out the site here.