Fane has announced more stellar names and events for their brand-new festival Words Weekend which runs at Sage Gateshead from 6 – 8 December 2019. More than sixty-five events and workshops will take place over the weekend with diversity and accessibility at the heart of the festival. 40% of events are free and all are gold standard accessible.
Artists joining the line-up include: Lisette Auton, Rob Biddulph, Jayne Dent, The Black Sheep Frederick Dickens, Claire Dupree, Paul Ewen, Faithful Johannes, Zena Francis, Paisley Gilmour, Tony Gadd, Jackie Hagan, Greg James, Norman Jay MBE, Roisin Crowley Linton, Flo Perry, Katrina Porteous, Jess Phillips MP, Jonnie Robinson, Nikesh Shukla, Chris Smith, Nina Wadia and Laura Jane Williams.
Nina Wadia and Konnie Huq of the award-winning sketch show Goodness Gracious Me will be joined by Nikesh Shukla to discuss the power of multicultural narratives, in association with Gem Arts, presenters of South Asian culture. DJ Norman Jay MBE will be interviewed by a special guest to discuss his life in music and play the tracks that shaped him, in celebration of his new memoir Mister Good Times. Following this, Deaf by Disco will DJ a fully BSL interpreted party set on the Concourse with appearances from some very special guests. Words Weekend Ambassador David Olusoga will discuss the past, present and future of the North East alongside author of The Northumbrians, Dan Jackson. As an Unlimited Ally, part of a network of over 200 UK and international arts venues, festivals and organisations working with and championing disabled artists, Words Weekend will host Jackie Hagan’s award-winning Unlimited commission This is Not a Safe Space.
A whole host of events for children include games, singing and audience fun with award-winning broadcasters Greg James and Chris Smith for their Kid Normal event. Former Blue Peter presenter and author Konnie Huq will lead live draw-alongs, quizzes and games. Creative workshops from Seven Stories National Centre for Children’s Books will give children a chance to explore Michael Morpurgo’s archive of notebooks and manuscripts, create work inspired by Newcastle born David Almond and learn about writing and illustration from Roisin Crowley Linton and Rob Biddulph. Curated in response to the Words Weekend programme, Forum Books Silent Disco will encourage the whole family to sing, dance and have fun while enjoying an interactive literary experience. In a very special event, local children from Chillingham Road Primary School will deliver impassioned speeches they have prepared about issues important to them inspired by Martin Luther King’s activist speech at Newcastle University in 1967.
It will be a celebration of words and language with events such as Poems from the Edge of Extinction with poet and editor Chris McCabe joined by poets Peter McCarey and Katrina Porteous, and a talk from the British Library’s Jonnie Robinson on preserving and celebrating language. Festival-goers will also have the chance to record their own favourite dialect word or phrase in the Words Weekend Travelling Word Bank – a partnership with the British Library – which will create a word map of modern British accents and dialects. Free language events include Language Party, a storytelling performance celebrating the diversity of languages spoken in the local community and Lisette Auton ‘Does Stuff with Words’, a poetry-led performance on topics including disability, mental health and feminism.
More free industry events are also announced today including two journalism masterclasses; one by Words Weekend partner Creative Access and one by journalists Claire Dupree and Mark Grainger of NARC. Magazine, where participants will be given the opportunity to review festival events in order to produce a Fanzine. There will be Ask the Agents surgeries over the weekend with Curtis Brown Literary Agents, and How To Be A Public Author, a chance to hear Carmen Marcus, Cash Carraway & Paul Ewen discuss their personal experiences as debut authors, chaired by Words Weekend ambassador Karolina Sutton.
Additions to previously announced events include writer and editor Nikesh Shukla, who will be joining Kerry Hudson in conversation about identity, poverty, and social activism in modern Britain. Jess Phillips MP will be joining Elizabeth Day’s How to Fail Live, inspired by her hugely popular book and podcast, for an uplifting and reassuring evening about growing from our mistakes and not being afraid. Marian Keyes will talk to Laura Jane Williams about her writing career and experience as a titan of the industry.
To coincide with today’s announcement a Words Weekend mural of pioneering poet and activist Gil Scott-Heron has been unveiled on the railway arches behind Sage Gateshead. The artwork, painted by Brighton based artist and illustrator Dan Lish, who has worked with artists such as Wu Tang Clan and De La Soul, marks an important collaboration between Words Weekend and Sage Gateshead’s Arches Academy, a space for alternative education and engagement through creative activities such as digital music, urban and dance music and street art.
This autumn, the work of Gil Scott-Heron will be the focus for Arches Academy students. The work they create in response to their learning will be showcased at the festival in December.
Sandy Duff, Arches and NEET Programme Leader at Sage Gateshead said: “As part of their accredited Arts Award work, students will research and explore Gil Scott-Heron, learning about the political environment and struggles he faced and how the arts provided him with an outlet for his creativity and a platform for his message.
Vocational music and arts sessions will give students the chance to make and create new music, visual art and creative writing inspired by their research.”
Five additional Words Weekend festivals are planned for 2020. Already announced are the Lowry in Salford and London in July.
The Programme So Far
Sage Gateshead, 6 – 8 December 2019
Full details and bookings: www.wordsweekend.com
Friday 6 December
Unexplained Podcast Live, 6pm, NRFH, Free
Join us as we welcome Richard MacLean Smith – the originator of Unexplained – which has been described as “the world’s spookiest podcast” for a live recording of the show. In his haunting and unsettling bi-weekly podcast, Richard discusses strange and mysterious real life events that continue to evade explanation.
Nadiya Hussain, Hall Two, 8pm, Tickets £20/£15
Join the TV presenter, chef and bestselling author celebrating her memoir Finding My Voice, as she considers her roles as mother, Muslim, working woman and celebrity and questions the barriers which many women must cross to be accepted or heard.
Bernardine Evaristo and David Olusoga In Conversation, NRFH, 8pm, Tickets £7.50
Bernardine Evaristo’s new novel Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different people. Aged 19 to 93, they span a variety of ages, cultural backgrounds, sexualities, classes and occupations as they tell the stories of themselves, their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years. Join the award-winning writer in conversation with historian and Words Weekend ambassador David Olusoga discussing Evaristo’s eighth book, and what it means to be British today.
Margaret Atwood: Live In Cinemas, Barbour Room 8pm, Tickets £12.50
Following a sell-out Sage One event, a second chance to see the screening of ‘In Conversation with Margaret Atwood’, the Canadian novelist, poet, literary critic and inventor.
Industry Insight: New Reviewers with NARC. Magazine, Meeting Pod, 6pm, Free
Are you interested in arts reviewing and journalism? Sign up for our masterclass with Claire Dupree, founder and editor of NARC. magazine and writer and journalist Mark Grainger. You’ll find out about their journeys through study and employment and learn the secrets of writing a great review. Then you’ll go out into the festival and put those skills into practice, attend events for free and write to deadline to produce the first ever Words Weekend Fanzine. Claire and Mark will be on hand all weekend for tips and advice. Spaces are limited. Sign up at firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday 7 December
Words Weekend Travelling Word Bank with the British Library, Concourse, All Day Saturday + Sunday, Free
Become a part of the British Library’s archive in the Words Weekend Word Bank. Record your favourite Geordie word or phrase, or the unique expressions used in your family or friendship group.
Industry Insight: Ask The Agents Surgeries, Pods 1-5, various sessions between 11.10am and 2.10pm, Free
Curtis Brown has been at the forefront of international publishing and a leading literary agency for over one hundred years, representing many of the world’s best-selling and award-winning authors and this year launching the Curtis Brown 120 First Novel Prize.
Book a 10 min 1:1 session with a Curtis Brown 120 Agent – ask them anything… provided it’s about publishing. Limited spaces available. Please email email@example.com to book your place.
Trevor Cox: Now You’re Talking, 11am, NRFH, Free
Join Professor Trevor Cox as he explores the most exquisite acoustic source: the human voice. Mixing scientific analysis with musical interludes, the talk will explore the workings of the voice.
Kid Normal, 11am, Hall One, Tickets £17.50/£15
Calling all members of the Heroes’ Alliance! There’s been a dramatic jailbreak at a top secret prison and the planet’s most dangerous supervillains are on the loose. Luckily Kid Normal and the Super Zeroes are on hand to chase them down, but will they find Magpie and his dastardly shadow machine in time, before they bring about the end of the Heroes’ world as we know it? Join award-winning broadcasters and authors Greg James and Chris Smith for an action-packed Kid Normal event with musical accompaniment from the super-talented Dave Cribb (Amusical). Help create a brand-new superhero story and prepare for lots of games, singing and audience fun!
Industry Insight: How to Make a Living as a Poet with Society of Authors, 11am, Barbour Room, Free
Poets Jo Bell and Tara Bergin, in conversation with Theo Jones from the Society of Authors, will discuss what their writing life looks like and how they effectively engage with publishers, readers and new audiences to make a living from their work.
Professional Skills for Poets – Masterclass with Theo Jones (Society of Authors Masterclass), 1pm, Meeting Pod 3, Free
David Olusoga and Dan Jackson: A City Through Time, Hall Two, 11am, Tickets £10
Join British-Nigerian historian, broadcaster and Words Weekend ambassador David Olusoga as he gives the opening keynote of the weekend. David then talks to author Dan Jackson about the deep roots of Northumbrian culture – a region that has made incredible contributions to British and global history, and that find itself finds caught between an indifferent south and an increasingly confident Scotland. Hear David and Dan as they delve into the rich history of the North East, the very site Sage Gateshead sits on, and tell us why they’re so excited about the future of the region. The event will be followed by a Q+A.
Tony Gadd, Concourse, 12pm, Free
Join local poet Tony Gadd for a poetry performance on the concourse.
Horrible Histories Roadshow with Terry Deary, Hall Two, 1pm, Tickets £12.50/£10
A horrible history of the past 2000 years of North East England – told through anecdotes, songs, poems, jokes and role-play. Join the world’s most popular children’s author in this funny and thought-provoking, entertaining and educational family show.
Marian Keyes in conversation, Hall One, 1pm, Tickets from £10
For years Marian Keyes has been writing hilarious, internationally bestselling fiction about modern women in the modern world. Dealing variously with contemporary issues, her stories are always written with compassion, hope and a sense of humour. Hear Marian in conversation with Laura Jane Williams as they discuss her writing career and experience as a titans of the industry.
Cash Carraway: SKINT ESTATE, 1pm, NRFH, Free
Skint Estate is Cash Carraway’s hard-hitting, blunt, dignified and brutally revealing debut memoir about impoverishment, loneliness and violence in austerity Britain – set against a grim landscape of sink estates, police cells, refuges and peepshows. Alone, pregnant and living in a women’s refuge, Cash Carraway couldn’t vote in the 2010 general election that ushered austerity into Britain. Skint Estate is Cash’s story, skilfully woven into a manifesto for change.
Age Recommendation: 14+
Jonnie Robinson, Concourse, 1:30pm, Free
Jonnie Robinson, lead curator of spoken English at The British Library discusses his work preserving and celebrating the language that makes us who were are. Learn some words you may never have heard before… Are you in the habit of swithering? Do you enjoy a spot of penking? Have you ever had a bubble at a pair of short weekends? Find out, and then record your own favourite dialect word or phrase in the Words Weekend Travelling Word Bank.
Get On Your Soapbox, Concourse, 2pm, Free
Year 4 children from Chillingham Road Primary School get on their soap boxes and deliver their impassioned speeches about issues that matter to them. This event will be the culmination of weeks of classroom work based around the speech Martin Luther King gave at Newcastle University in 1967 and the work of young activists such as environmentalist Greta Thunberg and US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This event promises to make you laugh, cry and maybe even change your mind.
Tracy Chevalier: A Single Thread, NRFH, 3pm, Tickets £10
Tracy Chevalier is the author of ten novels, including Girl with a Pearl Earring, an international bestseller that has sold over five million copies and won the Barnes and Noble Discover Award. Join Tracy Chevalier in an unusually intimate setting, discussing her new novel A Single Thread and her fascinating career so far.
Elif Shafak: How Stories Make a Difference, Hall Two, 3pm, Tickets £15/£12.50
Join the two-time Ted Global speaker (both times to a standing ovation) in a discussion of her latest novel, and an exploration the core theme of Words Weekend; the power of words and stories to unite communities.
Seven Stories: Creative Writing Workshop inspired by David Almond, C2 Music Education Centre, £7.50 per child – adults go free
David Almond often creates characters that come into the protagonist’s life and turn things upside down. In My Dad’s a Birdman, Dad thinks he’s a bird that can fly. Explore David’s personal notes for My Dad’s a Birdman to discover how he prepares to write a story. In this session, led by Seven Stories, we’ll use drama, discussion, drawing and creative writing techniques to help you create your world-changing characters. Suitable for ages 7-11
Amer Anwar, Fiona Cummins, Mari Hannah, Trevor Wood: The Perfect Crime Panel, 3:30pm, Barbour Room, Tickets £10
Join four leaders of the genre to discuss the secrets of writing the Perfect Crime novel…
Dr Jon Copley: Ask an Ocean Explorer, Barbour Room, 3:30pm, Tickets £5
How deep do sharks swim? Have more people been into space than the deep ocean? And what effect are we having on the health of our seas? Meet Jon Copley, ocean expert and scientific advisor for BBC’s Blue Planet II series, and hear the answers to these questions and more.
Roisin Crowley Linton: Teenage Kicks, Concourse, 4pm, Free
Stamptown Newcomer Award winner 2018, Roisin Crowley Linton returns to her hometown with her signature blend of achingly honest poetry, side-splitting stand-up and personal storytelling. Teenagers are weird. Being a teenager is weird. Working with teenagers is weird. Especially when you work at a youth club by day and perform comedy, poetry and burlesque by night.
Flo Perry on How To Have Feminist Sex… and Enjoy Dating, NRFH, 5pm, Tickets £5
From faking it to having a satisfying one night stand, juggling multiple dates to enjoying your sex life while single, join Flo Perry as she speaks to Cosmopolitan‘s Paisley Gilmour about her new book How To Have Feminist Sex and the highs and horrors of the dating world.
Age recommendation 16+
How To Be A Public Author: Cash Carraway, Paul Ewen, Carmen Marcus, Barbour, 5:30pm, Free
From writing styles and techniques to finding an agent and publishing work, hear advice from authors Cash Carraway, Paul Ewen and Carmen Marcus as they discuss their experiences of publishing their debut’s. Chaired by Words Weekend ambassador and literary agent Karolina Sutton.
Born Lippy Showcase: Kema Kay, Salena Godden, Testament with Apples & Snakes, Hall Two, 5:30pm, Tickets £7.50
Spoken word trailblazers Apples and Snakes and Newcastle poetry collective Born Lippy present an incredible line-up, featuring Zambian-born Newcastle-raised actor, rapper, singer Kema Kay (I, Daniel Blake and his one-man show Shine), one of Britain’s foremost poets Salena Godden and record-breaking beatboxer, hip-hop MC, poet, and theatre maker Testament. Expect a high energy event celebrating spoken word in all its forms, poetry, comedy, slam battle, and rap.
Forum Books Silent Disco, Concourse, 5:30pm, Free
Join our bookseller, Forum Books, at their Silent Book Disco, an interactive literary experience that enables children and grown-ups alike to have fun, dance and sing along. Each playlist has been curated in response to the events and themes of Words Weekend. Hear the songs that Candice Carty-Williams listened to when she was writing Queenie, Jay Rayner’s favourite jazz standard, or the first record Norman Jay ever bought.
A Celebration of Gil Scott-Heron with CoMusica Arches Academy and Mudfoot Blaps, Concourse, 6:30pm, Free
Did you spot the Gil Scott-Heron mural in the arches behind Sage Gateshead? Since September, the young people at CoMusica Arches Academy have been learning about the work of the poet, jazz musician and rap pioneer. Using creative practice to teach the national curriculum, CoMusica work with young people not in education, training or employment and this Autumn, in collaboration with Words Weekend, the group have explored beat poetry, proto-rap, jazz and political activism inspired by the pioneering artist. See a showcase of their work at Words Weekend.
Spotlight on Indie Publishers: Galley Beggar, Barbour Room, 7:30pm, Free
Galley Beggar Press, run by Eloise Millar and Sam Jordison, have released numerous award-winning novels and works of non-fiction such as Preti Taneja’s Desmond Elliott Prize-winning We That Are Young and Alex Pheby’s Republic Of Consciousness prize-winning Lucia. In 2019 Paul Ewen’s How To Be A Public Author was also shortlisted for the Wodehouse-Bollinger prize for humorous fiction and Galley Beggar is publishing Patience by Toby Litt and Mordew by Alex Pheby. Join all of these names in a showcase shining a spotlight on one of the most exciting indies in the UK.
Conversations with Norman Jay MBE, Hall One, 8pm, Tickets from £12.50
Words Weekend is very proud to present legendary DJ Norman Jay MBE as you’ve never quite seen him before: away from his iconic decks and in conversation exploring his enthralling life story, as captured in his much-anticipated new memoir Mister Good Times.
Interviewed live on stage by some very special guest interviewer (to be announced) expect tales of his adventures interspersed with carefully selected tracks that defined his experiences. From growing up as a black kid in a (largely white) working class world; of vivid, often violent, experiences on the football terraces; of Northern Soul nights, warehouse parties and illegal raves; of sound systems, the good and bad times of the Notting Hill carnival, the heady days of pirate radio, Rare Groove and the burgeoning British dance music scene; of how Jay became a central, formative figure within this colourful and vibrant milieu as it evolved from a tight-knit underground community to the global, hugely successful industry it is today.
With discussions on race, class, ambition and glamorous success, all set against the backdrop of a great social change, join us as we celebrate Norman Jay MBE, a man who has lived his life on his own terms and helped define a new British culture.
OneTrackMinds, NRFH, 8pm, Tickets £12.50
Everyone has a story about the song that changed their lives. An entertaining cross between Desert Island Discs, The Moth Radio Hour & TED Talks, OneTrackMinds is a live storytelling event which explores the transformative power of music. Join a vibrant selection of writers, thinkers and poets each presenting a thought-provoking story about how music inspires the way we live our lives.
Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers: Murdering Songs For Fun, Hall Two, 8:30pm, Tickets from £12.50
What happens when six bestselling crime writers all discover that they are really tortured musicians masquerading as authors? Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers is the result! Join Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Doug Johnstone, Val McDermid, Stuart Neville and Luca Veste – still reeling from their Glastonbury appearance in June – as they join us to first talk about their crime writing and their astonishing array of bestselling novels – and then take to the stage to murder some songs for fun. A rare chance to catch the crimewriting super group and sure to be a criminally good evening.
Deaf by Disco DJ set (BSL interpreted), Concourse, 9:45pm, Free
DJ duo Deaf By Disco play an innovative blend of disco, 80’s electronica and contemporary thumping techno. Formed of best pals, Jess Hughes & Nick Wakefield, now partners in crime for nearly a decade, they display an infectious joy during their sets which when combined with their carefully selected tracks, has every dance floor they play, from sweaty basement clubs to summery festival stages, filled with happy smiling faces and masterful dance moves. For the very first time this specially curated Words Weekend set will be fully BSL interpreted, expect sizzling vocals that will have you singing and signing your heart out on the Sage Gateshead concourse.
Sunday 8 December
Michael Morpurgo’s Best Christmas Concert, Hall One, 11am, Tickets £25/£17.50
Join us as Michael Morpurgo – one of Britain’s most well-known and best loved children’s authors – reads from his spellbinding book The Best Christmas Present in the World. The former Children’s Laureate and author of War Horse revisits the trenches to tell the festive and true story of Christmas 1914 when soldiers on both sides put down their weapons and suspended hostilities in honour of Christmas Day. Michael will be joined on stage by award winning actress Virginia McKenna and a choir singing carols in English, German, French and Flemish. An unmissable and thoroughly festive festival highlight!
Philippa Perry In Conversation, Hall Two, 11am, Tickets £12.50/£10
The entertaining broadcaster, psychotherapist and writer faces head-on our relationships with our children, and asks what gets in the way of a good connection and what can enhance it. Philippa will share thoughts from her latest book, the Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did, on how strong and loving bonds can be made with your children, and how such attachments give a better chance of good mental health, in childhood and beyond. Nearly every parent loves their children, but listen to what Philippa has to say, and we can learn to like them too.
Rob Biddulph: Show and Tell, NRFH, 11am, Tickets £5
All kids know that Show and Tell day is the best, and every member of Class 2L is sure they’ll BE the best…But who, and what, will really impress the teacher and win the prize? From aliens and parrots to robots and carrots, there’s an impressive collection on show. But can this small class learn a big lesson in what really matters? Join award-winning author-illustrator Rob Biddulph in a session guaranteed to inspire any budding artists, and would-be wordsmiths. Get involved and learn to draw one of your favourite characters! Age recommendation 5+
Poems from the Edge of Extinction with Chris McCabe, Peter McCarey and Katrina Porteous, Barbour Room, 11am, Tickets £7.50
With one of the world’s 7000 languages disappearing every two weeks, and with them their poetic traditions, Poems from the Edge of Extinction aims to preserve and reclaim voices which will otherwise fall silent. Join widely published poet and editor of the anthology Chris McCabe alongside poets Peter McCarey and Katrina Porteous, in a celebration of language, diversity and the enduring power of poetry.
Children’s Workshop: Letters to the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Concourse, 12:30pm, Free
Write your most persuasive letter convincing our very own Grinch why Christmas should be a wonderful time full of family, friends, and… presents. Writer and performer Roisin Crowley Linton will teach you how to get your voice heard, be compelling, and make the Grinch’s shrunken heart ”suddenly grow three sizes”. If you can convince him, and save Christmas, there might be something in it for you…
Industry Insight: Creative Access into Journalism. Talk followed by Q+A., Barbour Room, 1pm, Free
Zena Francis is a Broadcast Journalist at the BBC and Creative Access alumni. Established in 2012, Creative Access helps black, Asian and other non-white minority ethnic (BAME) candidates, as well as those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, to access creative careers to secure both jobs and paid training opportunities in creative companies. Learn about Zena’s experience and how to forge you own path in the creative industries.
Seven Stories: Creative Writing Workshop inspired by Michael Morpurgo, Children’s Room, 1pm, £7.50 per child – adults go free
Michael Morpurgo is one of Britain’s best loved story makers, and Seven Stories is proud to be the home of Michael’s archive of notebooks and manuscripts. In this interactive and engaging session children will become archivists and explore items from Michael’s collection, before turning their hand to creative writing.
Taking inspiration from Michael’s story making process, children will choose an object to focus on as a stimulus for their story. After beginning their own piece of creative writing children will share their ideas, with the opportunity to continue their writing at home. Ages 7-11
Goodness Gracious Me: The Power of Multicultural Narratives with Nikesh Shukla, Nina Wadia and Konnie Huq, Hall One, 1.30pm, Tickets from £10
It’s over twenty years since the ground-breaking Goodness Gracious Me skewered multiculturalism with its sharp, on-the-nose sketches about the default British Asian narrative. The award winning series that aired on BBC 2 from 1998 to 2001 showed up the reality of the non-existent “sarees, samosas and steel drums” utopia. Join writer and cast-member Nina Wadia alongside, best-selling author Nikesh Shukla (The Good Immigrant) and cast member Konnie Huq, to discuss the significance of seeing yourself reflected in mainstream culture; the importance of great satire in an increasingly divisive political landscape; and to laugh your head off at some of the most brilliant sketches of our time. In partnership with Gem Arts.
My Last Supper: One meal a lifetime in the making with Jay Rayner, Hall Two, 1:30pm, Tickets £17.50/£15
In this barnstorming new show, based on his new book, Rayner investigates our fascination with last suppers and tells the stories of the killer dishes that would end up on his table. Plus, he’ll get the audience to design their own last meal. My Last Supper follows the success of his sell out shows, My Dining Hell and The Ten Food Commandments, which have taken audiences by storm across the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the US.
Jackie Hagan: This Is Not A Safe Space, NRFH, 2pm, Tickets £5
Jackie Hagan is a council estate queer with one leg. The multi award-winning playwright, stand-up comedian, poet, theatre-maker and activist brings us a stripped-back version of her award-winning Unlimited commission ‘This is Not a Safe Space’. Based on interviews with 80 people on disability benefits and in response to her massive cob-on about the representation of working class and disabled people on telly and in theatre. Expect angry poetry about being the undeserving poor, some stump action, the opportunity to win a Fray Bentos pie and expect to leave feeling like you’ve had a kick and a cuddle to the heart. Age guidance: 18+
Lisette Auton Does Stuff with Words, Concourse, 2:15pm, Free
Lisette Auton is a disabled writer, poet, spoken word performer, theatre-maker and creative practitioner – she does stuff with words. She delivers passionate, high octane, physical pieces about disability, mental health, politics, feminism, equality, and her love of chips, using lyrical techniques to spiral out from the personal to the universal. All of her work seeks to make the invisible visible.
Seven Stories: Festive Story Party, Children’s Room, 2:30pm, £7.50 per child – adults go free
Join us for a Festive Story Party session hosted by Seven Stories. There’ll be storytelling with favourites such as Stick Man and Pick a Pine Tree, plus a crafting session just in time for decorating your Christmas tree. Suitable for ages 3-5
Konnie Huq: Cookie… and the Most Annoying Boy in the World, Barbour Room, 3pm, Tickets £7.50 inc. adults
Get ready to meet Cookie Haque – funny, science-obsessed and ready to take on the world! Join author, broadcaster and beloved former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq as she introduces you to Cookie and her adventures in the first of a sparkling new series for 7-12 years. With live draw-alongs, a science experiment, brain-busting quizzes and games galore – prepare for non-stop comedy.
Reflections On Our First Edition, Concourse, 3pm, Free
The first ever Words Weekend Community Meeting! We’re inviting you to ask us some difficult questions, and reflect on the first ever edition of Words Weekend. We, the festival organisers and ambassadors, would love to hear your thoughts, comments and questions to help us celebrate our successes and be even better next year.
Postcard Pitches Winner Announced, Concourse, 3:30pm, Free
All weekend writers have been pitching their novel ideas to five Curtis Brown literary agents by posting their pitches in the Words Weekend Post Box. Join us on the Concourse to find out the winner, and find out why their pitch was so convincing.
Stacey Dooley, Hall One, 3:30pm, Tickets from £10
Stacey Dooley has firmly established herself as one of BBC3’s most celebrated presenters through her hugely popular investigative series, covering a wide-range of topics from sex trafficking in Cambodia, to Yazidi women fighting back in Syria.
In her first book, On the Front Line with the Women Who Fight Back, Stacey drew on her encounters with so many brave and wonderful women, using their experiences as a vehicle to explore issues at the centre of female experience. At Words Weekend, Stacey talks about her remarkable career so far, and explores the themes of her books and programmes, discussing everything from gender equality, to sex trafficking and sexual identity, weaving these global strands together in an exploration of what it is to be women in the world today.
NARC takeover, Concourse, 4pm, Free
NARC. Magazine takeover the Words Weekend concourse stage to present the cutting-edge homegrown talent they’re most excited about. Come hear sets from local artists including Faithful Johannes, The Black Sheep Frederick Dickens and Jayne Dent experimenting with lyrical storytelling across folk, rap and…semi-operatic electronica!
Ben Okri: The Freedom Artist, Hall Two, 4pm, Tickets £15/£12.50
Booker Prize-winning Nigerian author and poet Ben Okri (The Famished Road) joins us to discuss his latest novel The Freedom Artist. Hailed as “an impassioned plea for justice” this is both a penetrating examination of how freedom is threatened in a post-truth society, and a powerful and haunting call to arms.
Carmen Marcus’ Sea Rescue, NRFH, 4pm, Free
Carmen Marcus (author of How Saints Die) will show how she uses sea-lore to create imagined worlds where trauma can be resolved. She will lead you deep under the myth of the Selkie to show how it provides a blueprint to understand how we fall for and escape from coercive control.
Language Party, Barbour Room, 5pm, Free
A celebration of bilingualism and International Year of Indigenous Languages: a storytelling event where a personal story is told in a mother language followed by the same individual interpreting it into English.
Grayson Perry In Conversation, Hall One, 6pm, Tickets from £10
Grayson Perry, winner of the Turner Prize in 2003, is one of Britain’s best-known contemporary artists. His works reference his childhood and life as a transvestite while also engaging with wider social issues – including class and politics, sex and religion. Perry has written and broadcast widely on the contemporary arts scene, Britain’s obsession with class and taste, and the shifting role of gender in the 21st Century. Join Grayson on Sunday evening at his Gateshead debut as he dissects the nations ”prejudices, fashions, and foibles”.
Elizabeth Day’s How to Fail Live, Hall Two, 6pm, Tickets £15/12.50
Join the award-winning author and journalist Elizabeth Day as she talks to Jess Phillips MP, for an uplifting and reassuring evening about growing from our mistakes and not being afraid. Plus there’s the opportunity to ask Elizabeth your own questions: is ‘success’ a myth? How can we turn crisis into clarity? Learning how to fail is actually learning how to succeed better. And everyone needs a bit of that.
Candice Carty-Williams in conversation with Liv Little, NRFH, 6pm, £7.50
Queenie smashed into the Sunday Times bestseller list in April and has been 2019’s most-talked about novel ever since. A darkly comic and unflinchingly raw depiction of a young woman trying to navigate her way in the world written by writer and founder of the Fourth Estate BAME Short story Prize, Candice Carty-Williams talks to Words Weekend ambassador and founder of Gal-dem magazine, Liv Little, about her extraordinarily successful debut, identity, independence and carving your own path.
Fiona Barton, Linda Green, Harriet Tyce: Writing Thrillers, Barbour Room, 7:30pm, Tickets £10
Just what is it about twisty psychological plot lines that has made the genre so popular in the last few years? And what is the key to creating a true “didn’t see that coming!” ending? An evening with three of the best psychological thriller writers in the country. Harriet Tyce’s debut Blood Orange is a heart pounding legal drama that became an instant word of mouth success. Fiona Barton followed her successful debut The Widow with The Child and more recently The Suspect – all have topped the bestseller charts for weeks on end. Linda Green has written nine best sellers in this genre, her most recent being The Last Thing She Told Me.
Kerry Hudson in conversation with Nikesh Shukla, Hall Two, 8pm, Tickets £12.50/£10
As the closing keynote speaker of the festival, award-winning novelist Kerry Hudson talks to writer and editor Nikesh Shukla about identity, poverty, and social activism in modern Britain.
Open Clasp Theatre Company: Rattle Snake Film Screening with Introduction from Director and Q+A, NRFH, 8pm, Free
An Open Clasp Theatre and Live Theatre co-production, Rattle Snake is an epic tale based on real-life stories of women who have faced and survived coercive controlling domestic abuse.
Age Recommendation: 15+
Photo Owen Humphreys