The Leeds Big Bookend: Review of Our Year

With a new year nearly upon us, like the Roman god Janus, we look back at 2013 and forward to the Big Bookend 2014. For the Big Bookend team, 2013 has flown by in a whirl of literary related events and encounters. Here are some of the highlights:

The Leeds Bookcrossers prepare for our book release

The Leeds Bookcrossers prepare for our book release

In May we teamed up with the Leeds Bookcrossers and staged a mass book release in the centre of Leeds.  Were you one of the lucky ones who found a book, read it and released it back into the wild to continue on its journey?

The LS13 anthology

The LS13 anthology

We searched for 20 of the best writers under the age of 40 in Leeds, wanting a snapshot of the writers at work in 2013. We found them and published our LS13 anthology. Our winner, Richard Smyth, won a book deal with Dead Ink and he returns to the Big Bookend 2014 to launch his new book, Wild Ink.

We have toured LS13 around Yorkshire and continue to work with our top 20 writers.

Beccy Cherriman at Avast!

Beccy Cherriman at Avast!

In the week before the festival, we had Avast! Our friends at Fictions of Every Kind, helped us to plash a creaking boat through a miscellany of stories, songs and poems of the sea.

We followed this with a literary themed beer tasting from beer writer, Simon Jenkins. Bad King John from Ridgeway Brewery was our top literary tipple.

Simon Jenkins and our literary themed beer quiz

Simon Jenkins and our literary themed beer quiz

 

Our festival weekend of the 8th and 9th June was filled with stories, poetry, performance, music and adventure.  Kate Pankhurst,  Tell Me Another Storytellers and Daniel Ingram-Brown  entertained our younger audiences with illustrations, an adventure workshop and glorious storytelling.  

Author and Illustrator Kate Pankhurst

Author and Illustrator Kate Pankhurst

Tell Me Another Storytellers captivate their audience

Tell Me Another Storytellers captivate their audience

Adventure workshop with Dan Ingram-Brown

Adventure workshop with Dan Ingram-Brown

 

 

 

 

 

Our older audiences delighted in historical fiction from Anne O’Brien; How Leeds writers changed the world with Anthony Clavane and Wes Brown;  Boff Whalley played, sang and read for us ably assisted by his daughter; Amy Keen gave us paranormal fiction and Frances Brody turned to crime.

Anne O'Brien signs copies of The Forbidden Queen

Anne O’Brien signs copies of The Forbidden Queen

Anthony Clavane (left) and Wes Brown (right) leading the 'Made in Leeds' discussion.

Anthony Clavane (left) and Wes Brown (right) leading the ‘Made in Leeds’ discussion.

Boff Whalley and his daughter

Boff Whalley and his daughter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Festival partner , Leeds Church Institute, provided space for reflection . The author of Journey Home, Jennifer Kavanagh, helped us reflect on what exactly home is and how we should respond to those without it. We hosted an evening of writers and performers from different faith traditions, demonstrating unity that can be found in among the artists of Leeds. And we made space for stories that are difficult to tell in Stories with No Voice.

Annie Wilde, played by Ella Harris, in Red Ladder Theatre's production of Wrong 'Un.

Annie Wilde, played by Ella Harris, in Red Ladder Theatre’s production of Wrong ‘Un.

We had the great privilege of premiering Red Ladder Theatre and Boff Whalley’s latest play, Wrong ‘Un, A Suffragette’s Story which played to a sell out audience and is back this January at The City Varieties.

 

 

 

To top all of that if it were possible, sublime poet Tony Harrison returned to his native Leeds as our headliner for an evening event at the West Yorkshire Playhouse where he enthralled the 200 strong audience with his performance, poetry and anecdotes. We were delighted to have Leeds Young Authors showcasing some of their poetry during the evening as well.

Tony Harrison  - 'Made in Leeds'

Tony Harrison – ‘Made in Leeds’

Leeds Young Authors

Leeds Young Authors

Leeds Young Authors

Leeds Young Authors

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so to the Big Bookend 2014. You might think that once the 2013 festival was over we would have put our feet up and had a few months off with a well deserved rest but that’s not been the case at all. We continue to meet fortnightly and have been busy planning for 2014. We regularly pop up at literary events all over Leeds trying to keep the city talking about all things literary.

Over the last couple of years, we have made new friends, forged new partnerships and strengthened existing ones, worked together to make something unique and great for the city of Leeds and celebrated Leeds’s wonderful literary heritage and future talent. We extend a massive thank you to everybody who has contributed to the Big Bookend so far, often giving their services for free.

Plans are well under way for another exciting festival in the week leading up to and over the weekend of 7-8th June. Join us if you can and if you think you can help our band of volunteers in any way, please get in contact with us, we’d love to hear from you.

Happy New Year from the Big Bookend team!

Photos courtesy of our volunteer photographers, Steve Evans and Rebecca Witt.

Fiona Gell

Fiona is a lifelong reading enthusiast and book lover. Her career started as a bookseller and has never really veered away from the written and spoken word. It was a dream for her to be a founder member of The Leeds Big Bookend Festival. Fiona is the Festival's Coordinator, helping to bring the whole festival together.

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