Not just a literary festival..

I missed the first Stoke Newington Literary Festival in 2010 by only a few days so last year I was paying attention when it popped up on my radar thanks to Twitter. I booked some great events and then, noticing they were looking for volunteers, I volunteered and enjoyed it so much that I’m doing it again.

I’m looking forward to some fantastic events in between selling tickets, dispensing programmes and generally going where I’m told. The problem is there’s just so much on and not just ‘literary’ stuff either – there’s music, politics, comedy, journalism, identity, food, drink, comics and afternoon tea! What do I slip off to when taking a break from the box office? And what would I recommend?

Some decisions are easy: the top event for me this year has to be RIP The Book? A free event in St Mary’s Old Church on Saturday at 5pm, it is curated by authors China Miéville and Mark Billingham who, with others from the publishing industry are discussing the much publicised (and hopefully, much exaggerated) demise of the book. How will e-books, e-readers and other new developments affect the future of publishing? And, while we’re at it, what about the future of bookshops?

Not all ‘London’ novels are set in Stokey although Jenny Colgan’s is – join her for tea and cake in Homa, Sunday 4pm – £5. Both Justin Cartwright (Other People’s Money) and Jonathan Lee (Joy) have set theirs in the City. They will be discussing the role London has played in their novels at 5pm on Saturday in St Mary’s Old Church (£5).

Everybody must be fed up with the Leveson inquiry by now? Not me! I’ll be going to see Nick Cohen, Suzanne Moore, Brian Cathcart and Dan Hind discussing the impact of hacking and what is to be done to curtail the excesses of a nominally ‘free’ press in Life after Leveson (1pm, Abney Hall on Sunday – £5). Don’t forget – we came dangerously close to witnessing the coalition government hand ‘the whole factory’ over to Murdoch.

I love all the kid’s stuff too. This year there’s Grisly Tales for Ghoulish Writers on Sunday at 11am in the Library Gallery (£3). Bruno Vincent, who’s no stranger to stories about nose-picking and farting will be teaching children how to write their own tasteful and delicate tales. Then there’s Pongy Prose for Whiffy Writers with more farting (I’m detecting a theme here) which is a free event where children can learn how to write stinky stories with the Famous Farter. That one’s at 1pm on Saturday – also in the Library Gallery.

Everybody must be fed up with the Leveson inquiry by now? Not me! I’ll be going to see Suzanne Moore, Brian Cathcart and Dan Hind discuss both the impact of hacking and what is to be done to curtail the excesses of a nominally ‘free’ press in Life after Leveson at 1pm, Abney Hall on Sunday – £5. Don’t forget – we came dangerously close to witnessing the coalition government hand ‘the whole factory’ over to Murdoch. (unfortunately Nick Cohen won’t be taking part now).

We all know about Daniel Defoe’s connection to the area (or we should) but what have Baader-Meinhoff or the Angry Brigade to do with Stoke Newington? Find out what made Stoke Newington such a “hotbed of activism” in two guided walks around Abney Park cemetery, Saturday and Sunday at 12 noon (£4.50). I might be working but you can still go (weather permitting of course).

BBC3’s documentary on Wednesday has certainly whetted my appetite for John Cooper Clarke with Simon Day on Saturday at 7.30pm at the Town Hall (£15). If you can’t make it, check out your iPlayer!

The festival draws to a close with some music-related highlights on Sunday evening. At 6pm in the Town Hall, Stoke Newington Library’s own Richard Boon will be bringing his years of experience in the music industry to bear on the history of independent music 1975 -2005 when he discusses Richard King’s new book, How Soon is Now? with the author and guests including Paul Morley and Bill Drummond. Bill, previously of the KLF is famous for burning a million quid and making Tammy Wynette sing some very silly lyrics in the 1990s (“…he is justified and ancient and he drives an ice-cream van” sticks in my mind for some reason). He was interviewed in last Tuesday’s Guardian – check it out on their website.

Wrapping things up in the Town Hall at 8pm will be Wilko Johnson who will be talking to his biographer, Zoë Howe, before performing a few numbers with his new band.

Hope to see you there.

Carmel Shortall, Volunteer

See our full programme at http://www.stokenewingtonliteraryfestival.com/the-programme/