Writing on the Wall (WoW) is a Liverpool-based organisation which celebrates writing in all its forms through year-round writing development projects and their annual month-long literature festival.
Throughout May, the annual WoWFEST presents an eclectic mix of local, national and international writers, spoken word performers, commentators and artists. The festival embraces a broad range of writing including journalism, fiction and non-fiction, poetry, song-writing, and storytelling. This is all set in the beautiful venues and spaces of Liverpool.
Their twentieth festival programme has the theme ‘Where Are We Now?’ In today’s world the rich are getting richer, but otherwise uncertainty is the order of the day; Brexit, climate change, class, race, populism, fake news and digital surveillance, are changing and challenging all our old conceptions. The stage is set for WoWFEST19 to seek answers.
This year’s festival features Will Self, Jo Brand, Ben Okri, Kit De Waal, and Jennifer Makumbi, plus a host of other events and workshops.
Here are just some of the festival highlights:
Will Self, launches WoWFEST19 with a keynote speech responding to the festival theme ‘Where Are We Now?’ Join writer and journalist Will and WoW to try and work out some answers to where we are now and where we might be going. (The Bluecoat, School Lane, Liverpool, L1, 1 May, 7pm. Tickets: £15/£8 (Students, Over 60s, Unemployed)
‘Junk Mail: The Power of Fake News’ discusses the influence and impact of fake information. News is information and information is power. But where does that power end up when the news is fake? The discussion features former Columnist of the Year, Brian Reade; Guardian columnist, Dawn Foster; Professor of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, Des Freedman; and author Brian Cathcart.
The Bluecoat, School Lane, Liverpool, L1, 9 May, 7pm.
Tickets: £6/£3 concs / unwaged
Mike Leigh’s gripping account of the 1819 St Peter’s Field massacre ‘Peterloo’, is a devastating portrait of class and political corruption. The film develops our understanding of how the poor in Britain have coped with oppression. A necessary film for our times and one delivered in an authentic voice. The evening also includes a Mike Leigh Q & A. (Plaza Community Cinema, 13 Crosby Road North, Waterloo, Liverpool, L22, 13 May, 6pm. Tickets: £10/£5 – Students/Over 60s/Unemployed)
Broadcaster and writer Roger Hill leads a walking tour ‘Where Are We?’ through the Liverpool streets to discover The City That Never Was, But Always Is. Expect to see Liverpool in a new, maybe fantastical light. In this period of uncertainty and competing realities, what should we believe?
Assembly Point: Ropewalks Square, outside FACT, L1, 5 May, 1pm & 3pm.
Tickets: £5/£3 concs / unwaged
The British Music Experience host ‘Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story’. Poly Styrene was a singer-songwriter, an artist and a true punk icon. For the first time, the vibrant jigsaw of Poly’s inspiring story has been lovingly pieced together by her daughter, singer-songwriter Celeste Bell, and writer/artist Zoë Howe. (British Music Experience, Cunard Building, Canada Boulevard, L3, 30 May, 8pm.
Tickets: £34.50/£28.50 concs / unwaged (with book) and £12/£6 concs / unwaged (without book)
WoWFest19 will also be hosting Guardian parliamentary sketch writer John Grace, as he tells the hysterical tale of Theresa May’s first turbulent year at No 10. ‘John Grace and the tale of the Maybot’ observes Theresa May’s efforts to remain strong and stable – and, indeed, Prime Minister.
Waterstones Liverpool ONE, 12 College Lane, Liverpool, L1, 10 May, 6pm.
Tickets: £3/£2 Waterstones Card Holders
Comedy’s finest Jo Brand brings her darkly funny life-guide to WoWFest this year. ‘Born Lippy’ is a gathering of all the things Jo wishes she’d known, all the things she’s learnt, and all the things she hopes for the future. Join her in conversation with one of Liverpool’s finest actors, Eithne Browne (Sometimes, Always, Never, Emmerdale) as she discusses how to do female.
Philharmonic Hall, Hope Street, Liverpool, L1, 14 May, 8pm.
Tickets: £23.50/£17.50 concs / unwaged (with book) and £16/£10 concs / unwaged (without book)
BBC Poetry Slam Champion Jess Green returns with a rousing, lyrical and humorous look at modern politics, ‘A Self-Help Guide to Being in Love with Jeremy Corbyn’. A show which not only received critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe but also led to Jess having a cup of tea with the man himself!
Unity Theatre, 1 Hope Place, Liverpool, L1, 24/25 May, 7.30pm
Tickets: £15/£10 concs
Kerry Hudson, award-winning novelist delivers an insightful workshop on writing non-fiction. In her most recent book Lowborn, Kerry journeys through her own childhood poverty, exploring what it means to be poor in Britain today. Free to attend, registration required.
Allerton Library, Allerton Road, Liverpool, L18, 18 May, 1pm.
Tickets: Free, booking is advised
Windsor Street’s creative organisations are throwing a street party filled with performance, spoken word, dance, music, food, film, arts and crafts. This all takes place in the street’s beautiful venues this LightNight. ‘Windsor Street Party for Light Night’ celebrates the Liverpool 8 community and their creativity. The evening opens with the energetic Katumba drummers and a WoW writing workshop.
Toxteth Library, Windsor Street, L8, 17 May, 6pm. Just turn up, free
Claire Heuchan’s book ‘What is Race? Who are Racists? Why Does Skin Colour Matter? And Other Big Questions’, encourages children to think for themselves, to bring everyone into the conversation and explore the history of race and society. Claire will be discussing the issues and reading extracts. (Toxteth Library, Windsor Street, L8, 13 May, 11am. Tickets: Free)
For tickets and more information on WoWFest19 see the website.