If you’re looking for a festival that sums up Liverpool’s independent spirit and passion, then the annual Writing on the Wall Festival (WoWFest) is certainly worth discovering.
WoWFest is a literary/writing programme that runs throughout May. Formed out of the city’s Dockers’ Strike in the late nineties, the festival covers race, gender, sexuality, politics, satire, and music. Beginning in 2000, previous years have seen appearances from guests such as Liverpool’s own Alexei Sayle, Bonnie Greer and the renowned Noam Chomsky.
In 2018 the festival theme is ‘Crossing Borders’, looking at how writers can open up borders and heal differences between people. The theme covers migration and race issues with messages of togetherness and inclusivity; a kind of antidote to the current Brexit and Donald Trump worldview.
Below we’ve picked just a few of our WoWFest highlights, but be sure to head over to their website for the full rundown!
‘Fiction trumps Trump’ sees writers react to Donald Trump’s unique visions with a series of entertaining and challenging arguments – a satirical way to ‘Make Fiction Great Again’. Featuring acclaimed writers Sim Bajawa and Bidisha. (Blackburne House, 30 May, 19:30)
The Labour Party Shadow Attorney General Shami Chakrabarti is a guest at Toxteth Library with her book Of Women. Focusing on gender injustice, the discussion looks at the often-poor treatment of women which she argues is human rights abuse. (Toxteth Library, 17 May, 16:00)
‘Beyond #metoo’ features author Vanessa Olorenshaw and deals with recent gender issues that actually subvert the overall festival theme. The talk covers ways in which certain borders do need to be fortified and maintained. (The Women’s Organisation, 9 May, 18:00)
Fittingly the longstanding radical poet Benjamin Zephaniah is featured at Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall. The night includes readings from his autobiographical The Life and Rhymes of… and is sure to cover the current Windrush immigration scandal. (Philharmonic Hall, 20 May, 19:30)
There are also two fascinating walking tours included in WoWFest this year, one retracing the little-known Liverpool Race Riots of 1919 and a second highlighting the history of the Liverpool Irish ‘In Hardship and in Hope’. (1919 Tour starts from Chinese Arch, 13 May, 13:30 and Liverpool Irish Tour starts St Luke’s ‘Bombed out’ Church, 26 May, 13:00)
WoWFest’s Pulp Idol novel writing competition gives a voice to new and original writers. This is a much welcomed event that bridges the gap between the national publishing industry and Merseyside. (Final held at Toxteth Library, 29 May, 19:00)
To round off the month, let your hair down at what will definitely be an amazing after party. Hosted at Constellations in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle, the night includes rapper Potent Whisper and DJ collective SisBis. Expect plenty of dancing and mighty funk grooves! The after-party is supported by Between the Borders, who work towards improving the experiences of asylum seekers and migrants. (Constellations, 31 May, 20:00)
WoWFest is a literary festival that doesn’t require an academic knowledge to enjoy, just an open mind. Head along for an inspiring collection of events that highlight Liverpool’s humanity and imagination.