This year celebrates the 5th birthday of the London Literature Festival and if you’ve not managed to catch any events yet, don’t fear! There are still 5 days left, and below are a selection of 5 great events that I’m looking forward to. There are plenty more to see, so do browse the programme.
To celebrate the festival’s 5th birthday, on Thursday I found myself standing on the Queen Elizabeth Hall’s lovely roof pavilion garden which offers glorious views over the River Thames. Yet it was not the view that most engaged me but the sight of a scarecrow in the pavilion garden. The garden commemorates the Festival of Britain and has in part been created in partnership with homeless people. It was an evening packed with delights: I saw Ali Smith read from a specially commissioned essay on Tracey Emin to tie in with the Emin exhibition currently showing at the Hayward Gallery and Smith and Rachel Holmes both gave some brilliant readings of a range of literary passages pertinent to Emin’s work as well as from Emin’s work itself.
They then engaged in a fascinating discussion which in part drew out the parallels between roles of the writer and artist, and their shared concern with ‘narrative’. Alan Hollinghurst also appeared discussing his marvellous new book, whilst we were also treated to an event with Ben Okri who this year celebrates a landmark anniversary for the publication of “The Famished Road”. Film maker and novelist Xiaulo Guo also presented her band The Syndicate in a beguiling evening of poetry, spoken word and music.
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Top 5 picks for the rest of the festival:
Friday 8 July 2011 – 19:45
Award-winning writer and performance artist Michael Pinchbeck takes his parents on tour to recreate the post-show party where they met after an amateur dramatic production of The Sound of Music. His mum was a nun. His dad was a Nazi.
A poignant re-enactment to the iconic soundtrack, The Post Show Party is ‘a teasing, gently witty and entertaining piece about the shifting nature of reality’ (The Guardian).
‘Fans of The Sound of Music will love this wonderfully ironic twist on their favourite show, and anyone else will simply be charmed by the beauty of a family under construction in the past and still creating today.’ (The British Theatre Guide)
Selected for the British Council’s Edinburgh Showcase 2009. Supported by Dance4, Nottingham City Council and the National Lottery through Arts Council England
Monday 11 July 2011 – 19:00
“Alexandra Harris’ groundbreaking book Romantic Moderns, which won the Guardian First Book Award, challenges the idea that Modernist design could only be hi-tech and futuristic in style. She discusses how an alternative sense of the ‘modern’ developed in the work of mid-century English writers and artists, including Virginia Woolf, John Piper and Bill Brandt, who were in touch with the landscape, locality and climate of England at the time.”
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Tuesday 12 July 2011 – 19:30
Zaha Hadid’s groundbreaking and often controversial architecture offers a vision of the future in the present day. She discusses her work and her vision in this event.
In a career spanning over 30 years, her buildings have continued to evolve in terms of structure and design, and continued to challenge conventional thinking.
Ranging from the quieter scale of her Maggie’s Centre in Kirkcaldy to the spectacular Maaxi Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome, Zaha Hadid’s ideas continue to re-define urban life across the globe.
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Tuesday 12 July 2011 – 19:45
Jocelyn Bell Burnell is one of the leading scientists of her generation. Join us for this illustrated talk as part of our Great Thinkers series, in which she explores how humanity is directly linked to the cosmos, with the carbon, iron and calcium in our bodies originally coming from the stars.
Jocelyn Bell Burnell was one of a team who discovered the first radio pulsars when still a postgraduate student, and has since gone on to win world renown in a male-dominated field. Her scientific belief that ‘nothing is static, nothing is final, everything is held provisionally’ has become a benchmark for her practice and life.
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Wednesday 13 July 2011 – 19:45
Named Scotland’s National Poet in January, Liz Lochhead gives an exclusive reading at London Literature Festival. Renowned for her intimate and unpretentious style, Lochhead’s poems adopt a range of spoken styles, making this evening a feast for the ear. Her poetry gives expression to both the marginalised voices of women and of Scots; she has said of her work, ‘My language is female-coloured as well as Scottish-coloured’. She reads a selection of her poetry followed by a discussion.
Liz Lochhead will be in conversation with Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre.
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