#chesterculture – Gladfest – Gladstone’s Library – Friday 2nd, Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th September 2016.

The UK’s friendliest literary festival returns Gladfest returns with another programme of the best and brightest writing talents, from old friends returning with their latest books to new-to-Gladfest stars.

The three day literary celebration, held at the UK’s only Prime Ministerial Library in Hawarden, will be welcoming high profile and internationally renowned writers, novelists, poets and academics for its annual festival Gladfest from Friday 2nd September to Sunday 4th September 2016.  Now into its fourth year, Gladfest is back and it’s better than ever.

loyd-grossman_239116kHighlights include Val McDermid (Splinter the Silence) discussing what compels us to consume crime fiction; Scarlett Thomas (The Seed Collectors) who explores her complex relationship with realism and fantasy; Loyd Grossman (Benjamin West and the Struggle to be Modern) on the Georgian craze for history as expressed in books, prints and paintings; Guy Cuthbertson’s perspective on Wilfred Owen and the WWI poets and Richard Holloway (A Little History of Religion) who muses on religious experiences and expressions.


Michel Faber and Sarah Perry will make a welcome return with their latest books, Undying and The Essex Serpent after sell-out slots at last year’s festival.

Further highlights include Sir Anthony Seldon (Cameron at 10: The Inside Story) on contemporary politics and education; Rachel Holmes who delves into the radical lives of Eleanor Marx and Sylvia Pankhurst; Andrew Tate exploring the ruined futures of dystopian fiction; Ian Parks who considers the poetry of C.P. Cavafy and Peter Blair charting the meteoric rise of contemporary flash fiction.


If you’re a little more hands-on, there will be workshops throughout the weekend sharpening manuscripts with Francesca Haig (The Fire Sermon), prioritising workload with Michael Nobbs (Drawing Your Life), using the imagination as a literary device with Peter Moore (The Weather Experiment) and creating comics with Simon Grennan (Dispossession).

fantastic20mr20fox201_1For younger Gladfesters, there’s an expanded programme of Young People’s Events and a series of interactive activities inspired by the books of Roald Dahl who would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year. Young people can explore the poetry of Revolting Rhymes, the characters of Fantastic Mr Fox, the language of The BFG and create prints to take home inspired by Dahl’s marvellous animals and creature creations.

Plus there’s the all-new Gladfest market place filled with the best local designers and contemporary crafts, the Gladbooks bookstall stocking reads from festival speakers (plus the opportunity to get them signed), the Food for Thought servery open throughout the day for delicious homemade hot and cold food, and the Gladbar ready and waiting to serve up festival tipples.

As one of the UK’s only festivals with no green room and no backstage area, you never know who you’ll bump into. Mingle with like-minded festival-goers, share a fireside drink with the authors and really make the most of Gladfest 2016.

For the full lineup click here,
Click here to view the official Gladfest 2016 programme

Friday 2nd September to Sunday 4th September 2016. gladfest20201620speakers
Weekend Tickets: £55
Day Tickets: £30 and Workshop Day Tickets: £40.
Individual event tickets are priced from £7.
For more information call Gladstone’s Reception on 01244 532350 or email enquiries@gladlib.org.

General release opens at 9am on Wednesday 18th May.

Friends priority booking opens at 9am on Wednesday 4th May.
Friends may book tickets for themselves and up to two guests.

Sign up as a Friend for pre-release tickets, exclusive Gladfest accommodation and a host of other benefits.


#chesterculture – Ireland: A Summer Night of Poetry and Music – 23rd June 2016.

Two of Chester’s most active poets Maureen Weldon and David Subacchi are presenting an evening of poetry and music with a strong Irish theme at Chester’s Northgate Studio and Gallery on Thursday 23rd June at 8pm.
As well as their own poetry inspired by Ireland there will be some Irish music and singing and support from a selection of other members of Chester Poets and musicians.
An evening not to be missed.

Admission is £3 on the door with any proceeds after expenses going to Charitable causes.

Ireland: A Summer Night of Poetry and Music
Northgate Studio and Gallery
Thursday 23rd June

#chesterculture – Preview: Weaver Words Literature Festival – Wednesday 6th to Sunday 10th April 2016

Weaver Words, Frodsham’s Literature Festival, is back with five days of fantastic talks, events, outings and workshops for you to enjoy, many linked to the festival theme of ‘The Good Life – happiness and well-being’.

Tim Frith, Patron of Weaver Words said: “What better food for the soul than poetry? Our 2016 programme includes performances from Liverpool legend Roger McGough and former Canal Poet Laureate Jo Bell aboard a boat along the River Weaver.

TV historian Dan Cruickshank takes us on a world tour of beautiful buildings, Merseyside footballing giant Neville Southall promises to share his literary goals and actor Gerald Dickens makes a welcome return to present a Victorian evening inspired by his great great grandfather Charles Dickens.”

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The  full programme of events can be found here.

In addition to these events the festival also host a flash fiction competition and a Children’s writing competition, both of which are now closed.

Weaver Words Literature Festival
Wednesday 6th to Sunday 10th April 2016
Various venues in Frodsham
Events vary in price and can be booked here

#ChesterCulture – World Poetry Day 2016 – I really hope that next time I’m The Little Mermaid by Nala

I really hope that next time I’m The Little Mermaid

by Nala

Kinder Eggs
Who doesn’t love a Kinder Egg?
Granted, with them having brought out genderised toys
‘this one has pink to show it’s for girls
and this one’s got blue on it to show it’s for boys’
it’s harder to love them than it once was
but ultimately,
if we’re honest everybody loves a kinder egg.

Like a child who doesn’t instinctively like the song ‘Yellow Submarine’
there’s probably something, possibly, a bit wrong if you don’t.
You go into a shop and you are attracted to them
Somewhere in your brain:
‘i want the kinder egg,
i must have the kinder egg’
Sometimes you manage to resist
but all too often you fall for it’s charms

You unwrap it
It looks good
It smells good
You split it open and it tastes good
You consume it

Then you realise you’re still left with what’s inside.

Sometimes you might disregard it immediately
Never considering what the contents of that little yellow plastic shell were
Other times you open it
and despite it feeling complete
you find it in pieces
some sort of puzzle to try and put together

it’s frustrating
and you consider the merits of doing so
you find it too time consuming
so you give up

On other occasions it’s a tiny terrapin
or a troll or a hippo thing
or just
a something

It sits on the desk, there to make you smile on a bad day
It may be that it’s colours start to fade over time,
it’s appearance no longer pleasing to you

You start thinking
it’s just in the way
and eventually
one day
you throw it away
Or you move jobs and leave it behind

From time to time your thoughts may drift to the memory of your beloved toy
but it’s only a fleeting thought and it’s gone a few seconds later.

Once in a blue moon though
you open it up
and it’s everything you hoped and dreamed it would be
it’s a shrek
or a disney princess.

F**k! It’s Ariel!

You treasure it
You blue-tac it onto your computer monitor
No matter what happens, it’s not going anywhere.

Tiny turtles and other such may be at it’s side
and come and go
but this one
this one
you’re keeping forever

#ChesterCulture – World Poetry Day 2016 – Looking for Puffins: South Stack Revisited – A Poem For Our Daughter by David Selzer

Looking for Puffins: South Stack Revisited – A Poem For Our Daughter

by David Selzer

Of course, by the time it’s my turn at the ’scope

the bugger’s turned its back. ‘It is a puffin,’

reassures the RSPB girl – and,

since she’s pretty and young, I believe

that what I see is not one of the teeming,

noisy, noisome, nesting guillemots,

razorbills or gulls. A hat trick: ageism,

sexism, anthropomorphism – plus

being churlish as a bear rather than

valiant as a lion. Intriguing opposites. Grrr!

We came here last when she was five or six.

Decades on, she stands with her lover

at a turn in the steps –  both happy,

both blooming with her longed-for future,

and wrestling with the breeze for your camera.

Some gulls have eschewed the crowded cliffs

to nest in the lighthouse’s disused kitchen garden.

We lean on the wall like pig farmers.

There is a dead chick amongst the gooseberries.

A living one stands, yes, surprised, startled but resolute

though even here winds roar like lions or bears.

I hold my breath…1,2,3…for us all.


Note: this piece has been subsequently published in ‘A Jar of Sticklebacks’.

South Stack, Ynys Môn , © Sylvia Selzer 2009


#ChesterCulture – World Poetry Day 2016 – A Western Wind Blows by Tara Stych

I wrote this 3 years ago after Seamus Heaney died.

It’s about Syria…unbelievable that the conflict is no nearer ending now.

A Western Wind Blows

by Tara Stych Syria.wind.6.cc23

The time has come for Heaney
To halt.
His spade.
To stop.
The planting of many seeds
Nurturing and nourishing
Hearts and minds and souls,
Fully grown.
Roots dug deep.
Never to be blown away.
But where the Western wind blows East,
A destructive digging descends.
Blue berets
Measure, probe the depths,
The earth’s bleeding gashes and wounds.
Plants ripped from roots.
Petals burnt, blistered.
And a Western wind blows,
Not seeking to rock and sooth,
But to spin a tornado
Crashing, crushing, destroying.
Seedlings scream.
Or are silent.
Yet the Western wind follows the path
Dug by the generations before.
The Western wind will not bend away.
Will not allow the sun through.
The beautiful, warm, nurturing sun.
Healing, soothing.
Again the old lie:
Dulce et Decorum est
Lives on.

#ChesterCulture – World Poetry Day 2016 – Honesty by Beth Kennedy

Here’s one from my creative writing portfolio when I went to Chester uni a fair while back.

Long story short – I needed to finish my line count for the poetry assignment and I was just short of a few lines so I made this one up and I got a 2.1 for the whole portfolio for being, like, ironic or something even though I wasn’t being and I just wanted to go to the pub with my friends.


by Beth Kennedy

From Beth Kennedy, age 26

#ChesterCulture – World Poetry Day 2016 – Road Home by Rebecca Sowray

Here’s my offering for World Poetry Day.  Come on #Chester – let’s give it our all xx

Share your poems

Road Home

by Rebecca Sowray

photoLeaves and walls and windows spin,
a jigsaw broken by a falling sun.
the road home,
a breaking storm.
I wonder what we began.

There is no calm centre,
power and colour after.

Yesterday isn’t the journey,
no lies built or truths undone.
was a right.
Fantasies told
of tomorrow’s plan.

There is no map,
you are not measured.

Lamps fail and thunder’s quick,
duty’s a dead engine.
are a dream.
I never woke
and never wanted.

This is no ending,
our long day’s after.

Your warm hands drive the day
and frame day-glo memory.
with you,
mountains fall.

I have no use for cool.

#ChesterCulture – World Poetry Day – I Need to Trace Your Face by Nala

I need to trace your face

by Nala Rollo


I need to trace your faceimg_0333

With the index finger of my right hand

Around your eyes, nose, lips and cheeks

For two senses always help recollection to be clearer

When missing you in the smallest of hours


I need to trace your face

With the index finger of my right hand

So memory may create an image of you perfect

Whilst neither of us adhere to rules or considerations of society’s established standards

And you care not for talk of beauty

Perfect that image is, to me


I know you shall cringe if you happen to read this

At the simplistic language

With no consideration for form

But I wanted to explain why

With the index finger of my right hand

I need to trace your face