Falafel and Feminism: A View of Latitude

Painted sheep from Latitude Festival 2013. Flickr Commons photo courtesy of markheybo.
Painted sheep from Latitude Festival 2013. Flickr Commons photo courtesy of markheybo.

Latitude is a strange place. It’s a place where anti-establishment hippies go to live out their wild fantasies even as they munch on an overpriced falafel wrap, where Guardian readers believe they’re doing Good Liberal Parenting whilst their five year-old son listens to a sweary alternative rock act and where teenage boys sit at the front of a comedy tent for eight hours unengaged just to watch to Kevin Bloody Bridges. Beside all its contradictions, however, it’s remains a rather special festival, and for a weekend in July Suffolk becomes a place you can lose yourself and engage more thoroughly at the same time.

Though it’s impossible for any festival as big and as broad as this to have any genuine through-line, the shows and acts you see over the course of the weekend inevitably end up talking to one another in some way. At this year’s Latitude, my entirely subjective experience threw up two major themes which seemed to span the festival at large; feminism and resistance.

The first narrative kicked off during a discussion on Friday between Laurie Penny, Laura Bates and Zoe Pilger about “The F Word”. For an hour, the three panellists discussed modern feminism and its growing popularity, which ended with a beautiful moment as Penny became overwhelmed with emotion at the number of people in the tent who self-described as “feminists” (with a not-insignificant number of those hands belonging to men).

After this discussion, the theatre tent seemed to teem with feminist narratives, with the theatre tent holding host to Debrah Ehrhardt’s escape-story Jamaica Farwell and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s filthy Fleabag at the same time as Litro Live told stories in the Shed next door. The culmination of these angry, empowered monologues was found in the provocative anti-male thrust of Alice Birch’s sublime Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again, which asked us to consider different ways of revolutionising gender relations . Elsewhere, feminist critiques took centre stage as Frisky & Mannish considered what a modern popular feminist anthem might sound like and Josie Long told stories of her attitudes to love and relationships.

Once your head gets full of these ideas, it’s almost impossible to not see them, and herein lies the true point of feminism; it allows you to view and critique cultural artefacts in an entirely new way. To this end, the sets of Lily Allen, Haim, Lykke Li, Clean Bandit and Goat all take on a new clarity as they assert themselves in a patriarchal society and create their own narratives.

Elsewhere, artists are getting angry at the state of the world around them, urging us to grab our metaphorical pitchforks and hold those in power to account. In the theatre tent, Mark Thomas discussed the way he and his fellow activists were betrayed by a member of their group who was spying on them a decade ago, and though he tells the tale with compassion it’s also filled with anger and becomes a kind of call-to-arms in its quieter moments. Even Forced Entertainment’s Void Story considers how a city copes when it has basically eaten itself, with a stripped back aesthetic drawing attention to the images on screen which have become little more than complex line drawings after some kind of apocalypse. Implicit in both these pieces is the argument that we cannot continue the way things are.

On the music stages, Billy Bragg, flies a particularly political flag, with songs like “I’m Not Your Handyman” and “New England” allowing an audience to chant along to anti-establishment rhetoric, whilst Grace Petrie’s multiple sets in smaller tents with protest songs including “Farewell to Welfare” and “They Shall Not Pass”, which it’s nigh-on impossible not to be buoyed and energised by.

Arguably the most angry and incisive work of the weekend, however, comes from the comedy tent. Alongside Josie Long’s strident and infectious political rants sits a Sunday morning newspaper session with Marcus Brigstocke, Mark Steel and Andrew Maxwell. Though the trio are sometimes over-sarcastic and Brigstocke in particular often demonstrates his public school bias, it’s an enlivening discussion which offers up the deliciously radical idea of popping the Queen’s head on a stick.

The most eloquent and enjoyable discussion of protest comes from Jeremy Hardy towards the end of the festival. Throughout his joyously cynical harumphing, he offers a hilarious criticism of modern-day neoliberalism, including a sideways look at the rise of UKIP and an invective about Michael Gove. At the end of his set, Hardy moves away from the easy targets to a slightly more controversial subject, as he argues in favour of anarchy with the suggestion that the anti-war protests of 2003 would have achieved something if things had kicked off in central London: “Where’s good old-fashioned police brutality when you need it?” It’s a brilliant routine which sums up the mood of the whole weekend; wistful but progressive, optimistic but cynical, knackering but ecstatic.

Words & Music: Miles Hunt of The Wonder Stuff

The Wonder Stuff Diaries
The Wonder Stuff Diaries

I’m mildly ashamed to admit that I was a late starter when it came to reading of my own volition. Perhaps something to do with the choices that school made for us in those latter years of English literature classes. I still can’t get on with Shakespeare, much to my Father’s annoyance.

By the time I was forging my way out into the world on my own, and during the first couple of years of The Wonder Stuff’s existence, I made the acquaintance of journalist James Brown who gifted me a copy of Charles Bukowski’s Post Office. I read it in one sitting and have since never been without a book, of one sort or another, at my side.

I had tried to make my way through Leonard Cohen’s Beautiful Losers before reading Post Office, somewhat unsuccessfully I might add, but still managed to pilfer a couple of lines for a song I wrote for the band’s second album, HUP, called ‘Let’s Be Other People’. It’s true to say that in times of scant inspiration to pen lyrics of my own I have been guilty of taking a lead from a variety of writers that I’ve read. Much better than swiping the odd line from other bands’ lyrics I find, less chance of getting caught!

I’m happy to say that in more recent years this isn’t a practice that I have continued with. Bukowski once said that nobody should publish their written material until they have passed the age of forty, as prior to that age they have little of importance worth saying. This notion has partially proved true of my own lyric writing.

As travelling has played a major part in my life I have always taken pleasure in reading travel books, Bill Bryson and Charlie Connelly being two of my favourites. I even got hooked on crime novelist Lawrence Block for a while, just because he is always so precise about the Manhattan addresses where the crimes take place in his books. I like to put myself on the streets he mentions.

I’m big on autobiographical writers too, not celebrities seeking another chance to earn, but writers with real stories to tell. Dave Eggers, David Sedaris and Pete Hamill are three that loom large. Looking at those names I think it’s fair to say that my tastes tends to lean toward North American writers, I hadn’t really noticed that about myself previously. Again, that may well have something to do with the sense of adventure I feel when touring with the band in that part of the world.

The book that has accompanied me absolutely everywhere is Howard Devoto’s collected lyrics, It Only Looked As If It Hurt. He’s the lead singer of the favourite band of my youth, Magazine. I’m always in lyric-writing mode and his work has always been inspirational to me. I don’t carry it around anymore though, I met him a couple of years ago and he signed it for me, it is now far too precious an item to risk losing on my travels.

I’ve just finished my own book, it is based on my diaries that I kept since the beginning of the band, simply titled The Wonder Stuff Diaries, ‘86 – ‘89. I’m self-publishing in October this year. While I freely admit it’s no rival to Kenneth Williams’ diaries I still think there’s a fair few people out there who will get a kick out of the stories.

Miles Hunt will be appearing at the Latitude Festival on Thursday 17 July, at the Literary Arena. For more on Latitude – including Litro’s own events at this year’s festival – click here.

Music Q&A with Beardyman

As Litro prepares for Latitude 2014, we chat to Beardyman about his plans for the festival and his taste in music.


Litro: What’s your dream festival lineup, if you could select artists from any era?

Beardyman: King Crimson (2003 lineup, controversial I know), Chemical Brothers, Joni Mitchel in 1978, System of a Down in 2006, Passenger of Shit, Aphex Twin, Reggie Watts, Pink Floyd, Ramones, Iggy and the Stooges, Murcoff, Black Sabbath in 1974, David Bowie in 1980, Noisia, Mr Bungle… And many more.

Litro: How important are lyrics in your musical process?

Beardyman: Very.

Litro: Do you have a favourite lyric from someone else’s song?

Beardyman: “And if god is dead, what am I? A fleck of dirt on the wings of a fly, hurtling to earth, through a hole in the sky, a hole in the sky. And if Warhol’s a genius, what am I? A spec of lint on the penis of an alien, buried in gelatine, beneath the sands of Venus” – King Crimson, ‘The ConstruKction of Light’.

Litro: Do you read much, either at home or on tour?

Beardyman: I read only non-fiction and occasional hard sci-fi. Generally books, scientific journals, and science documentaries are how I pass my time.

Litro: How much does your reading influence your music?

Beardyman: I’m sure it all creeps in somehow, but I tend to try and keep quantum mechanics out of my lyrics as much as possible.

Litro: If you weren’t a musician, what would you like to be doing?

Beardyman: Architecture or industrial design.

Litro: Will you be checking out the other stages at Latitude?

Beardyman: Definitely. I’ll be bringing the family and exploring.

Litro: Who/what do you want to see?

Beardyman: There’s so much to see, all of it enriching and wholesome. I’ve never been and it seems like a thoroughly polite and family friendly affair, all done with the right ethos in mind, that being fun and good honest music and art.

Litro: Whose work – director, author, artist – would you like to write a musical score for?

Beardyman: Philip K. Dick. His imagination is dark, twisted and beautifully ugly.

Music Q&A with Scroobius Pip

Litro chats with the spoken word artist about his forthcoming Latitude Festival appearance, and his personal festival wish list.

Scroobius Pip.
Scroobius Pip.

Litro: What’s your dream festival lineup, if you could select artists from any era?

Scroobius Pip: This is just too tough as I would want to list a number of different stages with different styles! The main stage would have Prince and Bruce Springsteen co-headlining. And maybe Kate Bush and Cyndi Lauper co-second-headliner-ing? Would have to have a hip hop field with Big Daddy Kane, KRS One, Public Enemy, Sage Francis, B Dolan, Open Mike Eagle, Pharoah Monch, Jean Grae, Young Fathers… wait, can we discuss budget? We need to start making this happen. We need to stop this interview immediately and start making phone calls. All of these acts are alive!

Litro: How important are lyrics in your musical process?

Scroobius Pip: They are the most important part for me. I come from and still move within a spoken word background. So my part of the process is very much all about the lyrics. Pretty much everything I have ever written has at some point been performed to a crowd with no music. Just words in their rawest form.

Litro: Do you have a favourite lyric from someone else’s song?

Scroobius Pip: There’s so many to choose from! Sage Francis has a lot that I love but the one that springs to mind is “Make love to the present, [email protected]&k the past…”

But there really are so many every single year that blow my mind and move my favourites list around.

Litro: Do you read much, either at home or on tour?

Scroobius Pip: I read a whole lot more these days than I did. When I was a kid I wasn’t really into reading (despite my mum and brother both always having numerous books on the go), but that has changed now and I try to have a book on the go whenever I have free moments. I am currently reading Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

Litro: How much does your reading influence your music?

Scroobius Pip: Reading influences my whole life and, in turn, certainly influences my music. I remember spending over a year reading The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa as I had to constantly stop and make notes or highlight or simply reflect upon some of the things that were being said here. Things that changed my perspective and way of thinking.

Litro: If you weren’t a musician, what would you like to be doing?

Scroobius Pip: That’s a tough question as I could kind of get away with saying my spoken word shows aren’t music so I could keep doing them? Haha. After my slot at Latitude in 2012 I was blown away by the turnout for a spoken word set and decided to develop the show and take it to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2013. Much to my surprise all 19 shows sold out and I’ve now ended up releasing it on DVD (available August 3rd) due to the demand that built through the reviews and ticket sales. So, thankfully, I think I could probably sustain myself on just words if music wasn’t an option.

Litro: Will you be checking out the other stages at Latitude?

Scroobius Pip: I will do my very best to! But I do find myself drawn in and almost hypnotised by the spoken word stage. The lineup is always so strong and so varied that it feels silly to go from stage to stage hoping to catch bits here and there when I can just get comfy and take it all in.

Litro: Who/what do you want to see?

Scroobius Pip: In the poetry tent, off the top of my head, I wouldn’t want to miss Rob Auton, Rosy Carrick, Zia Ahmed… and numerous others.

But Billy Bragg and Young Fathers are the ones sure to drag me from the poetry tent. Billy is obviously an all-time great and Young Fathers are the most exciting new act I’ve seen in years. I’m also a massive comedy nerd though so the chance to see Tim Key, Trevor Noah, Brian Gittins, Marcus Brigstocke, Sarah Pascoe, Josie Long and numerous others are chances I would be foolish to pass up.

Litro: Whose work – director, author, artist – would you like to write a musical score for?

Scroobius Pip: Another tough one! From the director point of view Gus Van Sant, Shane Meadows, Paddy Considine or Edgar Wright. Writer… if we are talking film then it’s got to be Kelly Marcel or Simon Pegg.

Since 2006 Scroobius Pip has been doing spoken word all over the world. From Japan to the US, Europe to the UK, whether it be with producer dan le sac or with just a microphone he has pretty much been on one long tour. In 2012 he headlined the Latitude spoken word tent to an overwhelming crowd. Regularly stating it as one of his favourite live experiences (so much so it inspired a sold out 19 date Edinburgh Fringe run & full UK tour) the chance to return in 2014 was one that he had no intention of passing up.

Poetry Q&A with George the Poet

Ahead of his appearance at the Latitude Festival, Litro talks to one of the hottest names on London’s spoken word scene.

George the Poet
George the Poet

Litro: What’s your dream festival lineup, if you could select artists from any era?

George the Poet: I just really wanna see Michael Jackson.

Litro: How important are lyrics in your musical process?

George the Poet: Lyrics are everything to me, I build songs around them.

Litro: Do you have a favourite lyric from someone else’s song?

George the Poet: That’s hard. Probably Sam Cooke “Change is gonna come”.

Litro: Do you read much, either at home or on tour?

George the Poet: Yeah reading really stimulates my writing

Litro: How much does your reading influence your music?

George the Poet: Words are gateways into other worlds, so reading helps me bring different things out of my music.

Litro: If you weren’t a musician, what would you like to be doing?

George the Poet: I’d be making more money and working with kids.

Litro: Will you be checking out the other stages at Latitude?

George the Poet: I’ll be checking everything!

Litro: Who/what do you want to see?

George the Poet: I haven’t seen Ady Suleiman in a while and he’s sick, can’t wait to check the progress. I’m excited for loads of people though.

Litro: Whose work – director, author, artist – would you like to write a musical score for?

George the Poet: Charlie Brooker. If you see him please tell him George would like a word.

Litro Live! Joins Lineup for the Latitude Festival

Latitude 2014 (02.06.2014)July is turning into a musical month for Litro. Not only do we have our Music issue, guest edited by Kele Okereke of Bloc Party, but we’re also heading to the Latitude Festival later in the month. Latitude takes place 17-20 July in Henham Park, Suffolk, showcasing a vast range of music, theatre, film, comedy and literature. Tickets are available here.

In partnership with Latitude, Litro will be hosting three exciting and enlightening talks at the Shed of Stories, one of the venues at this year’s festival. Joining us in the shed will be editor-turned-writer Luke Brown in a conversation with his contemporary James Miller; Patrick Flanery – author of the dystopian novel Fallen Land – talking with historian and TV presenter Kate Williams; and finally the novelist, editor, publisher and translator Ben Fergusson in discussion with award winning actor and writer Ian Kelly. Topics discussed will range from the secrets of getting your first book published to the impact of social media on modern fiction.

(NOTE: This is a change from the original programme. Rebecca Swirsky will no longer be appearing at this year’s Latitude Festival.)

We’ll also be reporting live from the festival on some of this year’s most exciting and innovative acts, as Litro goes to Latitude.

Here are the authors we’ll be welcoming onto our stage at the Shed of Stories:

Luke Brown sqrLuke Brown previously worked at Tindal Street publishers for over 10 years as an editor of literary fiction, an experience that informs his debut novel, My Biggest Lie. Luke grew up near Blackpool, Lancashire, and now lives in London.

James Miller sqrJames Miller is the author of the acclaimed novels Lost Boys (Little, Brown 2008) and Sunshine State (Little, Brown 2010) as well as numerous short stories. His essay ‘Micro-Narratives of the Everyday‘ appeared in Litro #134. He is currently senior lecturer in English literature and Creative Writing at Kingston.

Patrick FlaneryPatrick Flanery was born in California and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. After earning a B.F.A. in Film from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts he worked for three years in the film industry before moving to the UK, where he completed a doctorate in Twentieth-Century English Literature at the University of Oxford. He has written for the Washington Post, The Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, The Daily Telegraph, and The Times Literary Supplement. His first novel, Absolution, was published in 2012, and his second, Fallen Land, in 2013.

Kate WilliamsKate Williams fell in love with the eighteenth century whilst studying for her BA at the University of Oxford. She has an MA from Queen Mary, University of London and a DPhil from the University of Oxford. She is also a lecturer and TV consultant, appearing regularly on BBC and Channel 4 programmes to discuss her work. She lives in London. Her fourth history book, Josephine Bonaparte: Desire, Ambition, Napoleon, was published by Hutchinson to much acclaim in late 2013.

Ben Fergusson, photographed by Charlie Hopkinson, © 2013.Ben Fergusson is a writer, editor and translator and has worked for ten years as an editor and publisher in the art world. His short fiction has appeared in publications in both the UK and the US and has won and been shortlisted for a range of prizes. From 2009-2010 he edited the literary journal Chroma and since 2013 has been the editor of the short story magazine Oval Short Fiction. His story ‘Ewan without Ruby‘ appeared in Litro #95. His debut novel The Spring of Kasper Meier is released in July 2014, and is our Summer Book Club read.

ian_kellyIan Kelly is the author of this autumn’s much anticipated Vivienne Westwood memoir, working with and on the subject of the international fashion icon, but he is also an award winning biographer of amongst others the infamous secret memoirist Casanova. He discusses the issue of unpicking the legend of the notorious lover, the lies that biographers and memoirists tell, and the new world of writing about, and with, a living subject.


UPDATE: We’re excited to announce that the Patrick Flanery and Kate Williams event will be chaired by Anita Sethi.

Anita SethiAnita Sethi is an award-winning journalist, writer and critic who has written for several national and international newspapers and magazines including the Guardian, Observer, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Times, Independent, Independent on Sunday, Sydney Morning Herald, New Statesman, Granta, Harpers Bazaar, Times Literary Supplement and BBC Travel among others.  In broadcasting she has appeared as a guest critic and commentator, panellist and presenter on several channels including BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC World Service, and ABC Australia. She has been an International Writer in Residence in Melbourne, Australia, has been published in various anthologies and is currently completing a book. She has appeared as a speaker, presenter and chair at several festivals in the UK and around the world and has interviewed authors including Louis de Bernieres, Zadie Smith and Salman Rushdie. Her website is at www.anitasethi.co.uk and she tweets at www.twitter.com/anitasethi

Latitude: An Interview with Nathan Filer

Nathan Filer lives in Bristol, where he works as a mental health nurse. His debut novel, The Shock of the Fall, was published in May 2013. We caught up with him for a quick chat before he headed down to Suffolk to perform at Latitude, Friday afternoon in the Literary ArenaSHOCK-OF-THE-FALL1

Let’s start with Latitude. Are you excited? What’s in the backpack?

Not excited enough to have packed my backpack, evidently. I should do that. But yes – I’m certainly looking forward to it.

Is this your first time at the festival?

Nope. I’m a veteran. Some of my favourite poetry gigs have been at Latitude. The Poetry Arena has a very special place in my heart and I’d imagine it’s where I’ll be mostly hanging out this year too. All credit to the curator, Luke Wright, for making it such a success. I last performed there in 2009 though – so it’s been a little while.

What sort of thing will you be performing?

This year it’s about my novel. Well,mine and Matt Haig’s. We’re being interviewed together by Suzi Feay in the Literary Arena. Before stand-up poetry gigs I get terribly nervous, but I’m a lot more relaxed about this. I imagine it’ll just be a nice chit chat. Less rhymey.

Your novel, The Shock of the Fall, as you know, really touched me. I thought it was a beautiful and tender look at mental health. Can you tell me a little about how the idea came to you?

You’re very kind and your review was marvellous. It means the world to me when people connect with this story. It’s the work I’m most proud of, and was the hardest to write.

Now to your question: It’s interesting to me, this notion of the idea behind a novel. I find myself looking for one now, of course – the idea for my next novel, I mean. But when I think about The Shock of the Fall – about how much it changed through the telling, through the countless revisions, to something quite unrecognisable from my starting point  – there clearly never was the idea. It was a work of countless little ideas, many of which were contradictory and each vying for space on the page. I lack the perspicacity to have the idea for a whole novel. I’ll settle for an arresting sentence, and then hope for another. All that said clearly there was still a beginning to this process. And that occurred shortly after I’d started working in mental health, training as a nurse. So for a less lofty answer: I guess it probably had a bit to do with it.

I thought the intimacy of the novel was really generated from the point of view. Was it always planned out to be first person?

It was, yes. For all those many drafts and changes, Matthew Homes (the narrator) was a constant. It was always to be his story and told from his perspective.

Who are your favourite novelists? It seems like you’re attracted to a mixture of great plotting and the more playful, meta-fictional writers…

Really? I don’t know so much about meta-fictional writers. I really like Luke Kennard, who I maybe could argue is a meta-fictional poet. I’m not sure how strong that argument would be though, so let’s not have it here.

Like father, like daughter

A good while back I read If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino and that’s definitely meta-fictional. Oh, and my daughter has a baby-grow with the first page of Tristam Shandy on it (picture attached as proof).

But I think this may be an example of how it is possible to belong to a lineage without being a scholar of it. I do know that The Shock of the Fall has a whole load of meta stuff going on. “I am writing myself into my own story,” explains Matthew. “…and I am telling it from within.” The earlier drafts were actually far more experimental in this respect, with considerably more breaking down of the fourth wall. But I killed a lot this in favour of a more immersive read. As for my own favourite novelists, there are many and the list keeps growing. I’m a new convert to Cormac McCarthy. I love John Steinbeck and William Maxwell. I love Iain McEwan and Tibor Fischer and AM Homes (who Matthew Homes is named after). But I wouldn’t purport to know what, if anything, these authors share in common. They’re all bloody good though, no?

Have you ever used a typewriter?

I borrowed a typewriter to try writing the typewritten sections of my novel on, but managed about a paragraph before just downloading a decent font (Typenoksidi, as it happens). To quote Matthew again, “I live a cut & paste kind of life.”

Do you ever plan on returning to mental health as a topic in the future?

I’m yet to read a novel that isn’t about mental health. So yes –  I guess it’s inevitable.

Nathan was talking to David Whelan, who reviewed Nathan’s novel for Litro here. Nathan is in conversation with Matt Haig and Suzi Feay at Latitude on Friday 19th in the Literary Arena at 13:15.

Latitude: Who to Watch for Lit Lovers

For fiction lovers everywhere, Latitude Festival in Henham Park, Suffolk, offers the most comprehensive of all literary events in the world. Here, we detail the must see performers and shows.

The sheep are pink are Latitude.
Even the sheep dress up


Granta Best Young Novelists: Kamila Shamsie, Javier Montes and Cristiano Aguiar – the Literary Arena

For all the early arrivals, the Literary Arena has a stand out event on Thursday evening. Three of the best writers from around the world (Britain, Spain and Brazil) collect together to discuss the geographical, political and sociological tensions that inform and shape their fiction.

Table Talks hosted by Emma B – the Literary Salon

Emma B brings her famously sharp and witty hosting style to the festival for a second year running, opening on Thursday night with two unmissable debates concerning the old favourite of literary talkers, this house believes the book is dead, and the far more cutting-edge, this house believes that for real drama, look to the small screen. Guests include author Caroline Smailes, graphic novelist David Kirkwood, the hilarious Wendy Watson, and TV critic Tom Latcham.


Rob Auton – the Poetry Arena

Auton is awesome. From his famous Yellow Show, to making a short movie about a pea shooter (Russell Crowe certified), to hosting Bang Said the Gun, Auton has done little wrong in the past three years. Expect his show to be wacky, loud and hilarious.

Carol Ann Duffy – the Poetry Arena

Carol Ann Duffy

Literary super star Carol Ann Duffy, poet laurets her way to Latitude on Friday to perform a slew of gems. Though her latest collection was back in 2005, Duffy has continued to release timely, relevant work on anything from the Beckhams to where MPs are stashing their cash.

John Osborne – the Poetry Arena

Now, this is an interesting one. John Osborne and poetry tent compere Luke Wright, put on a show entitled Where the Railways Were, exploring the change of landscape (socially and geographically) that occurred in Britain when over 9,000 miles of railway was removed from across the country in the 1960s . Guest performances encouraged and expected.

Kwame Asante MC – the Literary Arena

One part stand up, one part poet, Kwame Asante is a wonderful mix of talent and enthusiasm. He’s won prizes for both his comedy and his verse, so prepare yourself to enjoy a rhyme and a giggle.

Nathan Filer and Matt Haig interviewed by Suzi Feay – the Literary Arena

A knock-out event. Two of Britain’s most interesting and exciting novelists, interviewed by the experienced and knowledgeable literary critic Suzi Feay. Both have released novels this year, Filer’s The Shock of the Fall and Haig’s The Humans, which explore – with pathos and humour – identity, mental health and what it means to be human.

Sylvia Rimat – the Literary Salon

Sylvia Rimat

If you’re looking for something a little different for your Friday, then consider nothing else than Rimat’s playful and intelligent inspection of the million tiny processes that make up every decision we make. If You Decide to Stay has been thoroughly researched and promises to transform the way you think about life (if not the just the weekend in Henham).


Liz Lochhead – the Poetry Arena

Lochhead is Scotland’s very own National Poet, and has, over a long career, come to represent all that there is to love about the place beyond the wall. Lochhead’s show is a sort of Reading Retrospective, which takes the audience back to the very first day they learnt to read.

Apples and Snakes – the Poetry Arena

Another show about neuroscience? Yes, but you can never have enough. Metafictional and metahysterical, Apples and Snakes perform a one hour show (face paint and all), asking ‘What are you like?

Daniel Kitson and Gavin Osborne – the Poetry Arena

An epic 45 minute poem, put to music, which has only been performed once before, at Regents Park Open Air Theatre in 2012. It will also mark the only time that Kitson and Osborne recreate their onstage chemistry this year at Latitude. With so many one-offs, surely this is an unmissable afternoon treat.

Germaine Greer – the Literary Arena

Germaine Greer – academic, novelist, activist, teacher – takes her provocative and vital talk about women’s position in the world to Latitude. An opportunity to see one of the world’s preeminent social thinkers should not be passed up, no matter if that trendy band from Brooklyn are playing at the same time.

Marcel Theroux and James Smythe interviewed by Suzi Feay – the Literary Arena

James Smythe
James Smythe

Feay returns on Saturday with another pair of brilliant authors. Smythe has quickly become one of the nation’s pre-eminent sci-fi writers, and his latest novel, The Machine, is an exquisitely written dystopian novel about technology and memory. Theroux is a broadcaster and novelist, with interests ranging from Japanese wabi-sabi to Myrcroft Holmes. Both men are somewhat cultural polymaths, so there’s no telling where this conversation will go, but it’s sure to be intelligent, stimulating and compulsive.

Owen Sheers – the Literary Arena

Pink Mist, Sheers’s verse-drama, was published in June 2013 by Faber. It focuses on three men from Bristol who return from fighting in Afghanistan and their subsequent relationships with the women in their lives. BBC Radio 4 broadcast the whole production recently, but this will be one of the first times to hear it in the flesh.

Dawn O’Porter in conversation with Laura Dockrill – the Literary Arena

Two of Britain’s most engaging talkers/performers/comedians/poets/presenters are set to collide on Saturday afternoon for an hour of anecdotes, observations and debate. We predict conversation may start on O’Porter’s newly published novel Paper Aeroplanes, but expect it to meander to practically everything important, so bring a pillow and a nice glass of wine and settle in. Laura Dockrill will perform on Sunday in the Poetry Arena.


Ross Sutherland – the Poetry Arena

Sutherland performs his new show, Stand-by for Tape Back-Up, a poetical romp through one of his grandfather’s old VHS tapes. An audiovisual extravaganza that won’t be topped by anything but the Kraftwerk 3D concert.

Tom Thum – the Poetry Arena

You know that act you walk past on Sunday afternoon and have no idea who they are but they sound so different and so brilliant that you stick around for five minutes and end up staying for the whole thing? Well, that’s Thum. His unique poetic beat-boxing will enslave your mind. Perfect Sunday afternoon chilling.

Byron Vincent and Thick Richard Special – the Poetry Arena

This is reportedly Vincent’s final ever poetry gig. Thick Richard is the Jack Dee of rhyming couplets. If that ain’t enough to get you down, then their combined show Fear of a Beige Planet must be.

Caroline Bird – the Poetry Arena

A bumper day at the Poetry Arena sees Caroline Bird round out a fantastic weekend. Bird was one of the five official Poets of the London Olympic games in 2012, so head down if you’re feeling patriotic or just want to cry a little out of nostalgia.

Artwork by Glynn Dillon
Artwork by Glynn Dillon

SelfMadeHero presents … Glynn Dillon, Joff Winterhart, Corban Wilkin and Toby Litt – the Literary Arena

It’s about time that illustrators took centre stage at a literary festival, and SelfMadeHero, the graphic novel publisher, have installed three of their best, and brought along Toby Litt for kicks. If you’re a keen reader or illustration-curious then this is a rare treat.

Toot – the Literary Salon

If you like your performances with audience interaction and multilayered narratives, then Toot, a collaboration between Claire Dunn, Terry O’Donovan and Stuart Barter, might just be for you. Expect music, games and lots of fun.

Latitude Festival is this weekend at Henham Park, Suffolk, – Thursday 18th to Sunday 21st July 2013. A limited amount of tickets are still on sale.

Listings: Jul-Aug 2011

From opera for beggars to dance for Latin-lovers, via festivals, comedy, Prohibition, classic film, free theatre and live literature.


Until 23rd July: The Beggars’ Opera, Regents Park Open Air Theatre, £17-44.
A musical comedy of highwaymen, hangmen and harlots comes to the Open Air Theatre this summer. Join Macheath and his partners in crime in John Gay’s ageless comic opera. See: openairtheatre.com

1st to 2nd July: Hop on The Farm, Kent, prices vary.
A stunning lineup of literary and music genius – including headliners the Eagles and Morrissey alongside the likes of Iggy & The Stooges, Bryan Ferry, Newton Faulkner and Brandon Flowers, this event offers a relaxed vibe set against the stunning backdrop of the Hop Farm Country Park in Kent. It’s run by former Mean Fiddler (Reading and Leeds, Glastonbury etc) chief Vince Power and came about after festival fans became disillusioned with the mainstream events. See: hopfarmfestival.com

2nd July: Velvet Lounge, secret private venue, Dalston, see website for prices.
The Baron Von Sanderson invites you for one night only to “The Velvet Lounge” a night of easy listening, champagne cocktails and live beat poetry. This is a one off pop up eventt, dedicated to the easier face of 60’s pop music encompassing sounds from Burt Bacharach to Jimmy Webb via the swinging sounds of the French Ye Ye beat.  Ladies put on those maxi dresses and diamanté, boys take that velvet suit to the cleaners. Throw your car keys into the onyx ashtray and swing like it’s 1968, but don’t tell your parents. See: diefrechemuse.co.uk

7th July: Between the Lines – Bill Harry Mersey Beat 50th Anniversary, O2 Bubble.
A special evening is in store as Mersey Beat creator Bill Harry recounts the beginnings of Mersey Sound magazine and how it helped shaped rock journalism 50 years ago. Liverpool legend and childhood friend of John Lennon, Bill Harry was the creator of Mersey Beat, the hugely influential and significant music paper of the 1960’s. Launched in 1961, Mersey Beat focused on the booming Liverpool scene and successfully built relationships with the Mersey bands, especially the Beatles. See: theo2.co.uk

12th to 16th July: Slapdash at the Old Vic Tunnels, London, £11/6.
Slapdash is London’s festival of impro, featuring 15 of the country’s best improvisation groups in a weeklong celebration of the spontaneous. Sometimes funny, sometimes touching and always totally unpredictable, impro is theatrical alchemy. Each night, three groups show off their individual styles, before coming together at the end of the evening for the infamous Slapdash Jam! See: slapdashfestival.co.uk

14th to 17th July: Latitude Festival, Henham Park, Southwold, prices vary.
Latitude offers an amazing line-up of the best in music, literature, film, theatre, cabaret and comedy as ever, including Paolo Nutini, Suede, Eels, Omid Djalili, Duckie, Ralph Fiennes, Tim Key, and the intriguingly named Modern Toss Activity Centre in Pandora’s Playground. Bust out your bikini, don’t forget your wellies, and head to Suffolk. See: latitudefestival.co.uk

15th to 24th July: Shoreditch Festival, Regent’s Canal and surrounding spaces.
Shoreditch Festival is an annual highlight of the East London cultural calendar that celebrates the network of canals linking communities from Shoreditch and beyond through to the Olympic Park. The festival will bring to life the waterside with film screenings, live music, dance performances, art commissions, fashion, literature and spoken word, health hubs, theatre shows, heritage trails, podcast expeditions, food markets and plenty more. See: shoreditchfestival.org.uk

23rd July: Prohibition, Grand Hall, Euston, £15.
Prepare to step back in time as we revisit the roaring twenties! Swigging cunningly concealed cocktails and contraband liquor from teacups is the order of the day as we strive to evade the ever-beady eye of the law and indulge in a spot of illegal drinking, gambling and Charleston dancing. Live bands and cabaret acts are at hand to entertain even the most particular of cads and good time girls. See: prohibition1920s.com

21st to 24th July: Port Eliot Literary Festival, Port Eliot, Cornwall, £35 to £140.
One of the most beautiful literary festivals in the world, Port Eliot is a weekend in Cornwall with a varied line-up of big names in music, fashion, food, film and literature. The open-air cinema is curated by Martin Scorsese, and includes classics The Red Shoes and The Leopard. Music comes from the likes of British Sea Power  and Hannah Peel; the word line-up features John Cooper Clarke and Hanif Kureishi. The Idler Academy is organised by Tom Hodgkinson, and includes a playwriting class from Jerusalem author Jez Butterworth. See: porteliotfestival.com


All July to September: Rooftop Film Club, Queen of Hoxton, £10.
An exciting outdoor film experience showing classic, cult and recent film releases on the rooftop of the Queen of Hoxton. Our big screen, wireless headphones and comfy chairs will mean you can sit back, relax and experience film like never before in this completely unique urban environment, until September, five nights a week. For full film listings, tickets and further information see: thequeenofhoxton.co.uk

2nd July to 5th August: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, St Paul’s Churchyard, £15/10.
A promenade production of Shakespeare’s magic-and-faeries romantic comedy. See: actorschurch.org or iristheatre.com

27th July to 7th August: Film 4 Summer Screen, Somerset House, £16-20.
Taking over the big screen at Somerset House again for July and August 2011, the Film 4 Summer Screen series brings a variety of classics and brand new films to audiences in the capital. The enormous open air screen takes up the whole of the fountain square in front of the Somerset House facade, and shows an inspired range of movies with something to please everyone. DJs will also be playing some of the best in new music, plus there are behind the screen talks hosted by BAFTA. See: somersethouse.org.uk/film


2nd to 6th August: Great British Beer Festival, Earls Court, £6-23.
Get some yeasty culture at this annual Beer Festival, and sup the UK’s finest ales from small breweries to some of Britain’s best-known beers. See: gbbf.camra.org.uk/home

3rd August, 7.30pm : YARN presents The Special Relationship, Concrete Bar, Shoreditch, £5.
The Special Relationship literary variety night features turns from regulars Jarred McGinnis and Sam Taradash, plus guests Nii Ayikwei Parkes and award-winning cartoonist Harry Venning, who will be teaching audience memebers … well, how to be a cartoonist. See: yarnfest.com

4th August to 4th September: Free Theatre at The Scoop, South Bank, FREE.
Get your thesp on at The Scoop throughout August 2011 when both kids’ and adults’ shows are put on every week, including Brecht’s The Mother and Around the World in 80 Days. Lucky theatre-loving Londoners can catch free shows at The Scoop as part of the More London Free Festival. See: morelondon.co.uk/scoop.html

19th to 29th August: London Latin Festival, various venues and prices.
Celebrate the passion and excitement of Latin dance at this ten-day festival, featuring everything from salsa to bachata, via Latin Hustle and Zouk-Kizomba-Lambada … See: thelondonlatinfest.com

28th August: 3pm, Storytails, The Drop, Stoke Newington, FREE.
The Sunday afternoon literary event returns in August with readings of short stories and novel extracts from up and coming London authors you’ll wonder why you haven’t heard of. The vibe is relaxed and entry is free, so just turn up and enjoy. See: storytails.org