Saturday, 31 May 2008

A plaice for poetry?
A pub for peripatetic ponderings?

Words take wing in some unlikely venues

Where better to hear about all things beer than in a real ale pub? Or to batter your rival with quick-draw poetry than a fish and chip shop?

Hebden Bridge Arts Festival, already renowned for its wide and wonderful programme of events, now seems to be earning itself a reputation for novel venues.

This summer, the Festival marks the 2008 UN Year of Languages by celebrating the languages of art, music, drama and literature. There is also a specially programmed Many Voices series of events, illustrating how language can be used in unusual ways – and in some unexpected places.

Ian MerchantWriter, performer and pub quiz addict Ian Marchant takes listeners on a journey between pubs on the Scilly Isles and The Shetlands at a new venue – the Hole in the Wall pub in Hebden Bridge. Part memoir, part irreverent lecture tour, Ian’s performances are full of surprises and fascinating facts. His audience will be able to pit their wits against each other after the performance at a not-to-be-missed pub quiz.

After its successful debut last year, AJ’s fish and chip restaurant in the town will host Luke Wright – Poet & Man, in a quick-fire, performance that has earned comparisons with poet-comedian John Hegley.

Luke, who has two five-star solo Edinburgh shows under his belt, will compere the Chips ‘n’ Quips Poetry Slam in the restaurant – a chance for all-comers to test out their wordsmithing while eating haddock and chips.

Phill JupitusDon’t expect dressing up, but do expect some silly voices when Phill Jupitus (Never Mind the Buzzcocks and It’s Only TV) reads Dickens at the Hebden Bridge Picture House. Phill will be bravely recreating Charles Dickens’ own readings during the reign of Queen Victoria – and it promises to be hilarious.

Bittersweet comedy is more the mark for Blake Morrison, who will be returning to his birthplace of Yorkshire to introduce the film of his best-selling memoir And When Did You Last See Your Father? The book is a tender unsentimental tribute to a larger-than-life character, which created an entire genre of autobiographical works. The film, starring Colin Firth, Jim Broadbent and Juliet Stevenson, is a classic British comedy that faithfully recreates a lost era. After the film, Blake will be signing copies of his books.

A new experience for the Arts Festival, two literary lunches are being held at the Dusty Miller in Mytholmroyd. The first is in the company of Adèle Geras and Sophie Hannah.

Adèle Geras has published more than 90 books for children and young adults as well as four novels for adults, the most recent of which is A Hidden Life. Her daughter Sophie Hannah writes crime fiction and poetry and her psychological thrillers have sold more than 200,000 copies in the UK alone. She has been published in 14 languages and her fifth collection of poetry, Pessimism for Beginners, was shortlisted for the 2007 TS Eliot Prize.

Suzanne BerneThe second is with Suzanne Berne and Marjorie Sandor. Suzanne Berne won the Orange prize in 1999 for her first novel A Crime in the Neighbourhood. She followed this with the equally acclaimed A Perfect Arrangement and The Ghost at the Table and has proved herself both a master story-teller and a skilful observer of the tensions of contemporary American life. Marjorie Sandor is the winner of the National Jewish Book award in fiction and the author of three books including the story collection A Portrait of My Mother Who Posed Nude in War-Time.

Tickets are limited to just a handful for both lunch events, but there will also be the chance to hear from the authors in two separate talks at Artsmill.

Other literary offerings include Rohan McCullough’s portrayal of Beatrix Potter, and Andrew Bibby and John Morrison’s In Praise of Pennine Landscapes.

Alongside the Many Voices events, the Festival will be tempting audiences with a treasure hunt, drama, comedy, music from folk to flamenco – and even a chance to take to the streets in a cappella harmony. Postal booking for the 40-plus performances and workshops is now open. The box office on Albert Street opens on June 14.


Postal booking for the 40-plus performances and workshops is now open. The box office on Albert Street opens on June 14.

The 2008 Festival runs from Friday, June 27 to Sunday, July 13.

If you’d like to be kept in touch with what’s planned, e-mail or visit

Hebden Bridge Festival


Friday 27 June
Saturday 28 June
Sunday 29 June
Monday 30 June
Tuesday 1 July
Wednesday 2 July
Thursday 3 July
Friday 4 July
Saturday 5 July
Sunday 6 July
Monday 7 July
Tuesday 8 July
Wednesday 9 July
Thursday 10 July
Friday 11 July
Saturday 12 July
Sunday 13 July

Open Studios

Listings & Links

Programme PDF

Booking form