Literary festivals are an excellent way to engage with books and education. But they are also a pleasurable and usually inexpensive form of entertainment. They can even be considered as a ‘field trip’ to complement an open learning course.
To hear a piece of poetry or an extract from a novel performed by the person who wrote it is a treat not to be missed. There is also the possibility of discovering a new take on an old favourite, for example seeing a biographer discuss an author’s recently discovered letters. The small scale of the venues provides an intimate setting and the opportunity to feel as though you have been part of something special.
If you feel like going along to one, here are a few of the best for the first part of the year:
The Bath Literature Festival http://bathfestivals.org.uk/literature will begin later this month on 28th February and continue until 9th March. As well as the ticketed talks and concerts, free events include ‘Random Acts of Shakespeare’ (sonnets, monologues and famous scenes performed in the streets of Bath) and readings of First World War Poetry from the new compilation edited by Carol Ann Duffy. Tickets can also be purchased for a ‘Young Writer’s Lab’ if any budding authors fancy honing their skills.
It is also worth noting that, later in the year, there will be the companion Children’s Bath Literature Festival http://bathfestivals.org.uk/childrens-literature. David Almond, author of Heaven Eyes, an enchanting novel studied by Oxford Home Schooling Year 9 English students, is the Festival Director. Last year’s speakers included Michelle Paver who wrote Wolf Brother, a favourite of our Year 7 students. The 2014 line-up is yet to be confirmed.
Next month, the Oxford Festival http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/sheldonian will be held from 22nd March until 30th March. Speakers include Robert Harris, Alexander McCall Smith and Jan Morris.
A selection of events which are especially appealing to young people runs alongside http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/children-young-adults. Here, there is the chance to encounter Tony Bradman and Michael Morpurgo for as little as £6. David Almond also discusses Skellig, his debut novel.
Further North, if you are near York between March 20th and 31st, you can visit the York Literature Festival http://www.yorkliteraturefestival.co.uk, where there are free workshops on writing short fiction and poetry workshops from £3. An audience with Roger McGough is just £13 and on 24th March, you can listen to Andrew Motion read for free (although tickets need to be booked in advance).
For the home study student, literary festivals provide a perfect opportunity to learn something new and enjoyable. Why not see for yourself?