Weardale WordFest 2021

The third Weardale WordFest will take place during the weekend 22nd – 24th October.

We are really excited about this year’s WordFest and we have some great events lined up.

WordFest takes place in St. Thomas’ Church Hall, Stanhope. Entry to all WordFest events is free, although please book to reserve a place for the workshops and Meet the Author (email northpens15@gmail.com). We will, of course, be taking note of and operating within any government guidelines that are in place at the time. We will keep this page updated, so please check back during October.

Friday 22 October

Writing the Wild: the short form, language and landscape – WordFest opening workshop with Mary-Jane Holmes

 A Forward Prize nominee and Hawthornden Fellow, Mary-Jane has won the Live Canon Poetry Pamphlet Prize 2020, Bath Novella-in-Flash Prize  2020, the Bridport Poetry prize, Reflex Fiction and Mslexia Flashprize as well as the Bedford Poetry competition and we are absolutely thrilled to welcome her to WordFest this year. The workshop will share insights from her latest book of short fiction Set a Crow to Catch a Crow, and explore connections between language and landscape. Email northpens15@gmail.com to reserve a place Friday 22 October, 11 a.m.

this One Wild Place

 Join us to celebrate the launch of Avril Joy’s latest collection of stories, ranging from the Costa winning Millie and Bird to the recent Morning Tide listed for the Fish Short Memoir Prize. From Venice to the East Anglian Fens, Cape Cod to the shore temples of Mahabalipuram, and in the hills of Weardale, England’s last wilderness, she weaves a narrative of hope in the face of loss, and of the enduring power of love. In 2012 Avril won the inaugural Costa Short Story Award and her latest novel, Sometimes a River Song, published by Linen Press, won the 2017 People’s Book Prize. Friday 22 October 7.00 p.m.

Saturday 23 October

During the day on Saturday 23 there will be plenty of time between talks to chat to the authors (and each other), browse the bookstalls, take a look at Home Time, the latest exhibition from Wideyed Photography and partake of the delicious refreshments provided by Jo Hayes and Sarah Haynes.

Wideyed is a NorthEast arts collective that undertakes international projects and creative collaborations leading to the production and dissemination of new works. Its photographers, Lucy Carolan, Richard Glynn, Louise Taylor and Nat Wilkins, have exhibited all over the world. Since Christmas they have been distributing disposable cameras to care home residents and shielders in the wider community so they could document their experience of lockdown. Home Time is funded by County Durham   Community Foundation

A Shoulder on the Hill

Events begin with another great local launch. Carol Graham‘s acclaimed memoir, A Shoulder on the Hill, is a true and deeply personal account of the many rich layers of her life on an Upper Weardale hillside, the hard work, the setbacks, the blessings and the unexpected rewards. Saturday 23 October, 10.30 a.m.

Vane Women

Writers’ Collective Vane Women bring their unique blend of stunning poetry and wry humour to WordFest for the first time. They will be accompanied by readings from the most recent Vane Women Press publications by poets Rachel Burns and Kathleen Bainbridge.

Saturday 23 October, 11.30 a.m.

12.30 LUNCH BREAK Take a look at the photography exhibition. Browse the bookstalls. Chat to the authors and catch up with your WordFest friends.

Greg Finch

Greg Finch’s book The Blacketts, a northern dynasty’s rise, crisis and redemption will be out this autumn. Greg will take us through how his research revealed the rivalries between leading figures in Weardale’s lead industry. Saturday 23 October, 2.00 p.m.

Paul Parsons

Paul Parsons, aka Fat Bloke on a Bike, has been out and about on his bike again, this time he went Straight Down the Middle of the country and we look forward to hearing about his adventures (and the cakes!). Saturday 23 October, 3.00 p.m.

Our Isolated Dale

Join us for a film première! In isolation, but not isolated, during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 NorthPens Writers continued to meet on Zoom and to write. They worked with Lonely Tower Film and Media and local authors Phil Mews, Avril Joy and Wendy Robertson to produce a film based on the stories, poems and reflections created during those strange months. Quirky, lyrical, poignant and at times hilarious, a unique look at life in a remote part of the country during extraordinary times. There will be an opportunity to talk to the writers and film-makers about how and why it was made after the show.The book, Our Isolated Dale will be on sale, all proceeds to be donated to local charities. Saturday 23 October, 6.30 p.m.

Sunday 24 October

Poetry Writing Workshop: what shape are you in?

 Your poetry writing adventure begins here … experiment in concrete and visual form to reveal the hidden inscape of your words at thisworkshop with Vane Women. All welcome. Email northpens15@gmail.com to reserve a place. Sunday 24 October, 11.00 a.m.

Meet the Author with Wendy Robertson

 When do the events of a writer’s life become the fabric of fiction? A question that fascinates author Wendy Robertson, many of whose novels are inspired by South Durham and the historic town of Bishop Auckland where she lives. Join Wendy for tea and cake and an informal chat about her life as a writer. Email northpens15@gmail.com to reserve a place. Sunday 24 October 2.00 p.m.

Weardale Authors’ Book Fair

Sunday 24 October 1.00 p.m. – 4.00 p.m. 

Local history and exploration, children’s books, crime fiction,  memoir, photography, poetry, literary fiction, anthologies, cycling adventures, historical and romantic fiction … there are so many talented writers in Weardale you are bound to find something to interest you at the Weardale Authors’ Book Fair. Drop in at any time during the afternoon, meet local authors, talk to them about their work, buy some books!

And something for the whole family …

Thursday 21 October, 7.00 p.m. Twisted Tales for Terrible Children. ‘Scratch the surface of all the tales we have heard since childhood and we find they are dark, nasty and full of dubious intention ….’ A family show performed by Gav Cross. Twisted Tales is part of the Highlights Rural Touring programme, see their website http://www.highlightsnorth.co.uk for further info. Tickets can be booked on line or from Sarah Haynes (01388 528673)

We really do want to see everybody again and, once more, to celebrate the wealth of talent to be found in Weardale. Keep checking back, and as soon as we are able to confirm more details we’ll post the information here. Stay safe, stay sane, stay creative. See you in October!