The first ever Bradford Literature Festival kicks off this weekend following the success of a three day launch event in September 2014. The festival takes place from the 15th – 24th May with over 150 events to choose from. Featuring around 250 writers, thinkers, artists and experts from around the globe, over the 10 days it will explore a staggering range of subjects, some of which are still thought of as taboo.
Curated by Culture Squared, the festival is the brainchild of Syima Aslam and Irna Qureshi who aim to create high quality events to enhance cultural literacy, and judging by the Programme Listing, they have certainly delivered.
It asks bold questions; How do rising Islamophobia and antisemitism reflect on British values? What is the lure of ISIS? Have we learnt any lessons from 7/7? Is there a crisis in masculinity today? Do we really have freedom of speech, or is it a delusion of ‘liberal’ societies? From current affairs to the politics of gender, from global conflicts to their local effects, this ground-breaking festival offers a neutral space for constructive conversations about difficult topics which urgently need to be addressed.
Yorkshire folk are proud, and with good reason. Local Heritage features strongly in the festival; Alan Hall takes us through 100 key dates that have shaped the city’s history in Bradford in 100 Dates, and football fans can rejoice with John Dewhirst as he looks at A History of Bradford City Football Club in 100 Objects. You can even immerse yourself in Bradford’s gruesome past at the Bradford Police Museum with a guided tour and tales of the Bradford Hangman.
One of Yorkshire’s best known literary families are the Brontës, whose family home still stands in Haworth, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. The legacy of the family is explored in a series of Brontë themed events, from Brontës for Beginners, through a discussion of Race and Gender in the Novels of the Brontës to a Brontë Heritage Tour.
Despite being called a Literature Festival, the festival isn’t just about books and poetry. There are performances, masterclasses and workshops for both adults and children. With an assortment of subjects and practical advice, you can try your hand at working with verbatim, writing comedy or fantasy, creating manga, doll making and even animation. Thinking about going to university? Bradford is ready to assist with Everything You Wanted To Know About Going to University. Perhaps you dream of being published? Then join Maia Walczak and Jazzmine Beary as they investigate what makes a strong author-publisher relationship for Inside Publishing.
There is an impressive selection of current affairs listings as well as an exploration of politics of gender, social history, poetry and even science. The outpouring of knowledge and awareness from this festival is incredible; the clue is in the title with Everything You Ever Wanted To Ask About Islam But Never Dared! while Claudia Gold explores history’s 50 most remarkable women and leading scientist Professor Akram Khan teams up with Will Self to offer philosophical insights on particle physics. David Whitehouse takes us on a journey to the centre of the earth, Sue Armstrong unravels the mysteries of p53 – The Gene that Cracked the Cancer Code, while the 14th century Bradford Cathedral will play host to a showcase of Bradford’s entire faithscape in Sacred Poetry.
Need a little pick-me-up? Matthew Johnstone will bein conversation with Lord Kamlesh Patel, showingus how to fight back and fortify our lives mentally, emotionally and physicallywithHow To Bounce Back From Adversity and Lead a Fulfilling Life. Or perhaps you would like a little inspiration; maybe start your own business one day? Paul Tomlinson takes us through how to create a dream business while eating chocolate in Treating the Tastebuds: Cocoa Hernando. And TPR’s Yorkshire Editor’s personal favourite is DOGA – Yoga for You and Your Dog.
Going forward, the Festival is scheduled to run in May every year – so what are you waiting for? Get yourself over to Bradford and indulge in the diverse range of cultural literacy, history and the arts in this pioneering celebration of that which makes Yorkshire, and the United Kingdom, great.
For more information and to book tickets, visit http://www.bradfordliteraturefestival.co.uk/