This year’s Wakefield Lit Fest marks a new direction for the festival – Beam has joined up with A Firm of Poets to create a fresh and dynamic festival with something for everyone to enjoy.

Lit Fest 2017 is titled – ‘Talking Loud and Saying Summat’ and focuses on four main themes: Poetry, Music, Wellbeing and outstanding local talent. We are thrilled to be working alongside a wide range of local and regional partners including Wordlife, Louder Than Words and Wakefield College to produce a festival that is innovative, diverse, fun and intriguing. From poetry troubadours, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Edwyn Collins, John Hegley and Kate Fox to our own Merry West Collective, Laura Potts and the sublime band One Day After School.

Lit Fest in the City

Look out for a host of exciting and unusual events taking place throughout the city over the 9 days – celebrate the iconic labour club as Mark Thomas returns to Wakefield for his show inspired by the Red Shed; take a walk around the city and discover the creative scene with Wakefield Art Walk; create your very own piece of art as Los Angeles neon artist Michael Flechtner visits Wakefield to teach and exhibit for the first time in the UK at Neon Workshops, Wakefield Civic Society present author of Concretopia John Grindrod, who’ll about his book Outskirts. If you’re looking to brush up on your writing skills, John Irving Clarke will be leading a workshop The Struck Match at Wakefield Library – or if spoken word and poetry is more your thing, drop in to Wakefield’s Women’s Poetry Group for a book launch and readings; join The Black Horse Poets for A Pound of Sound for an evening of words, music and open mic sessions or visit the library for a readers event with author Kath Padgett – there’s far too much to mention so visit the website and see what’s on offer.

Festival highlights include…

Poetry for the People – A day of poetry and spoken word on Saturday 23rd September that is urgent, funny, entertaining and especially for you, the people! From Genevieve Walsh and the first of our ‘Breakfast Epiphanies’ to ‘Gudrun’s Sisters’ exploration into the stories and songs of the Blues. From John Hegley and his tale of the historic ‘Kinsley Evictions’ to the legendary Linton Kwesi Johnson headlining a glittering night of arguably the finest spoken word artists in the country. This is a real day (and night) of celebration of words that may change how you feel about poetry, forever!

Beautiful Minds – On Sunday 24th September, we think about Beautiful Minds with an all-day event showcasing the power of words to impact on our health and wellbeing programmed by Wordlife. Starting the day with another Breakfast Epiphany at Create Café and followed by the Book Doctors prescribing remedies and reading material for the soul at Wakefield Library to a series of panel discussions exploring how can we build a more mental health friendly Wakefield and how mental health is portrayed in the arts and media with special guest panellists. We also invite a group of local writers from the Well Women Centre who’ve been working with writer and facilitator from Dream Time Creative, Sarah Leah Cobham on a project called Words for Wellbeing and everyone is invited to come and hear their moving and inspirational poems and stories. Topping off the day is a Words for Wellbeing Cabaret serving up a dazzling night of music, comedy and spoken word with a stellar line up taking an alternative view of mental health featuring music from Bill Ryder Jones, lead guitarist from The Coral until 2008, leading comedian Simon Munnery, poet, broadcaster, Rethink trustee Byron Vincent and poet Hannah Chutzpah.

We Need to Talk About Music – Have you ever asked yourself what came first, the words or the music? Wakefield Lit Fest intends to find out and is delighted to work with the Louder Than Words Festival on a scintillating day called We Need to Talk About Music at Unity Works on Saturday 30th September with an exciting programme to discuss music and it connections to literature and life. With extraordinary guests including Steve Ignorant, Grace Maxwell and Edwyn Collins with live performances, special commissions, and maybe even a special surprise or two.

Wakefield Rising – On Sunday 1st October Simon Widdop hosts Wakefield Rising, a day dedicated to the city’s creatives to showcase the work of local emerging writers and performers – part of Wakefield Lit Fest’s seed fund initiative that supports local talent. Wakefield Rising is a platform to share a wide range of work and includes family activities, site-specific theatre, performance, live music, workshops and spoken word. From a calming breakfast epiphany with award-winning poetry and music to penguin posse poetry workshops and creating a renga poetry chain, to interactive storytelling with local children’s author and a new site-specific and immersive theatre created by Cuckoos Egg about the folks who work at the Cluntergate Centre to thoughts of 3AM and what keeps us awake; poetry about what brings us together in a digital world and a look back at the sound track to 20 years of writing about music.

This is a day to celebrate the creative energy of the city through words, music, spoken word and special commissions and a musical finale called I Went to Africa and Woke Up in Wakefield led by local musician and writer Ali Bullivent with music and songs inspired by stories from recent trips to Zambia and Zimbabwe.

To book and find out more visit

Wakefield Lit Fest 2017 Brochure

Image: Linton Kwesi Johnson



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