Literature leading lights join forces for True North free event

SOME of the region’s finest literary minds will be coming together for a special event this week.

Author Val McDermid
Author Val McDermid

SOME of the region’s finest literary minds will be coming together for a special event this week.

Playwright Lee Hall, crime writer Val McDermid and poet Sean O’Brien are taking part in a discussion in Newcastle on Thursday, which will centre around how the North East is represented in literature.

The True North: Literature and the Region free event is expected to draw in large crowds, so organisers are encouraging people to secure their tickets early.

To be held at Newcastle University, the evening has been organised to coincide with the Festival of the North East, which runs until the end of June.

The idea behind the festival was dreamt up by renowned folk musician Kathryn Tickell upon news that the Lindisfarne Gospels would be returning to the region from July to September this year.

lee hall

This provided the impetus to create a month-long celebration of North East creativity and innovation throughout June, to mark their arrival.

Kathryn is joined by three other well-known artists – Lee Hall, Paul Smith and Antony Gormley – who have given their time and support as artistic advisers to the festival’s team.

The Literature and the Region event on Thursday is an opportunity for literature lovers to meet celebrated writers Mr Hall, Ms McDermid and Mr O’Brien as well as engaging in a topical discussion about how the North East is depicted in books and poetry.

Mr Hall was among those who helped lead a campaign opposing Newcastle City Council’s planned cuts to arts, leisure and libraries.

Last year, he spoke to a packed-out meeting at the city’s Assembly Rooms in which hundreds turned up to hear the writer attack the basis of Government-ordered funding cuts.

He went on to call for a sit-in-style protest at libraries due to be closed, calling on those wishing the save the centres to opt for what was dubbed ‘a little civic disobedience’.

Mr O’Brien, whose poem Oysterity compares the experience of being at the wrong end of the cuts to nausea induced by bad oysters, will also be on hand with award-winning author Ms McDermid, who wrote the popular series on which the ITV series Wire In The Blood was based.

The evening will include the screening of short film Proof by Tara Bergin, Kate Sweeney and Anna Woodford. The film, recently acquired by Newcastle University, explores the archive of contemporary poetry house Bloodaxe Books.

Using a montage of new footage, including interviews with poets, extracts from manuscript papers, rough drafts and hand-written letters, it offers a sneak preview of the material to evoke the allure and poetry of archives.

For more details of the event, which gets under way at 7pm on Thursday at Newcastle University, and to book tickets, call Melanie Birch on 0191 222 7619.


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