Autumn/Winter Season Preview


Boy have we got a bumper few months for you…

Off The Shelf Events

Off The Shelf Festival Of Words is back and Word Life and Now Then will again be hosting the opening party on 11 October with a full day event at the Winter Gardens. Running from 10.30am until 4pm the event will feature a bookshop, poetry films and a number of workshops. Local writers are also encouraged to get involved in the open mic session with a handful of slots open to people who walk up on the day. It is free to attend and promises to be another great way to kick off proceedings.

Following that, this year we’ll be hosting a number of public interventions to help promote Off The Shelf to new audiences. There’ll be a pop-up stall every Saturday during the festival, starting with the opening party in the Winter Gardens on 11 October, then the Showroom cinema the following week, the Theatre Delicatessen the week after that, and rounding off at the University of Sheffield’s Students Union on 1 November. Live Twitter feeds with writing prompts, some one-off workshops and performances will be regularly updated, with a few surprises thrown in along the way. You can see those Twitter feeds at the events or tweet us any time at @otsfestival and @wordlifeuk.

The festival’s closing party will be at Queens Social Club on 1 November featuring a slot from a superstar of spoken word Hollie Mcnish, whose poems ‘Mathematics’ and ‘Embarrassed’ have both gone viral on Youtube. Also featuring is Rhian Edwards, who is a winner of Wales Book of the Year and has also been shortlisted for the Forward Prize. There’ll be live music from Mudcats Blues Trio and Now Then DJ’s to round off the largest poetry slam in South Yorkshire. The event is £5 entry and starts from 7.30pm. We hope to see you there.

Other Events

We’ve got some of the leading contemporary poets from the UK and beyond lined up over the coming months with a number of dates penciled in. On 5 September we see the launch of ‘Time Passes. Listen.’, a Dylan Thomas-inspired storytelling and immersive theatre project taking place this autumn in a derelict shop on Sheffield’s Moor. The project will be collecting stories and fables of Sheffield throughout September to create an interactive exhibition in the shop front. These stories will then create an immersive theatre piece to be performed in the warren of back rooms in the shop in November. We’ll be hosting the likes of Gav Roberts, Sean Morley and Zacc Rogers to launch the project with more acts to be announced.

Then the Barnsley Civic will be the venue for acclaimed poet and playwright Rommi Smith on 2 October, who has previously worked with the British Council and the BBC including Poetry Please, The Verb and Woman’s Hour. We’ll be returning back there on 31 October for a night with one of the UK’s leading spoken word artists over the last 10 years, Elvis Mcgonagall. He has won the World Slam Championship, and been featured on BBC 1s ‘The One Show’, BBC 2’s ‘The Culture Show’ and Channel 4’s ‘Random Acts’. With support from Leeds’ own Raph Attar it’s another night to be missed.

On 17 October we’ll be helping to celebrate the Picture The Poet exhibition in Sheffield. There’ll be a session at Graves Gallery featuring local poets Helen Mort , Ben Wilkinson, prose writers Steve Scott and Tim Leach, and an open mic as well. The exhibition will close on 28 November with headline acts John Agard and Buddy Wakefield. John Agard is an Afro-Guyanese poet who has won the Queens medal for poetry and Buddy Wakefield is one of the leading American slam poets who has toured extensively across North America and Europe, having won numerous slam titles.

Perhaps our most exciting date is 8 November when Kate Tempest will be in Sheffield. Following a number of sell out performances for both her plays and her one woman theatre show with a live score ‘Brand New Ancients’, she won the Ted Hughes Award for poetry last year. We are delighted to welcome one of the leading poets of her generation to Plug on her brand new album tour. Tickets are available now for £12.50 but are selling quick and we recommend you buy now to avoid disappointment.

Words: Michael Griffiths.


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