OUR INTREPID REPORTER: Borderlines Festival

Article published on August 18, 2016.

Now in its third year, the Borderlines Book Festival in Carlisle is a relative newcomer to the ever-growing literary calendar. However, as you will see from this year’s programme, there is nothing lightweight about the eclectic and ambitious range of talks and events scheduled for the 2016 festival.

The organisers have attracted some very well-known and popular authors, as well as some who are perhaps rather less well-known. They have booked the internationally acclaimed, German-born writer Jan-Phillip Sendker, author of the wonderful, best-selling debut novel, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats. He will be making Carlisle the first venue (quite a scoop!) on his tour of the UK to promote the October publishing of his latest book, Dragon Games, the follow-up to his third novel, Whispering Shadows.

Other highlights, to include just a few, will be MP Alan Johnson, screenwriter Jimmy McGovern, novelists Sarah Hall and Salley Vickers, historian and author Juliet Barker, the gardening writer Anna Pavord, the highly-entertaining linguist David Crystal speaking about “How Eloquence Works” and also his son Ben Crystal, actor, author and Shakespeare scholar, who will be marking the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death – and, just to keep it in the family, they will chair each other’s talks!

The main programme of talks starts at 6pm on Friday 7th October 2016 with Val McDermid speaking on “Killing people for fun and profit”, followed by Hunter Davies talking about “My Life with Margaret”, and the final session will be on Sunday 9th at 7pm, with Alison Weir talking about the six wives of Henry VIII.

Poetry-lovers will also be well catered for, with a Poetry Breakfast, a poetry workshop, and an evening of poetry, entitled “Poetry Please”, to be held in the wonderful medieval Fratry of Carlisle Cathedral, on the Saturday evening.

Another important poetry event is the two hour “Stimulate your writing” workshop starting at 3pm on Saturday 8th October. The first half will include winners of the county final of the national “Poetry by Heart” competition reading their work, as well as the finalists of the Borderlines Poetry Competition for Schools who will be reading their winning poems. In the second half The Watershed Poets will read from their new collection, written in aid of the Cumbria Community Foundation Flood Recovery Appeal. In its own right this promises to be a stimulating session, but an added attraction is that all proceeds raised from ticket sales and from the sale of Watershed books at this event will be donated to the Cumbria Flood Relief Fund.

There will also be twelve other workshops taking place over the weekend; the first starting at 10.30 am on the 7th October and the final one at 2.45pm on the 9th. These will cover a wide range of topics, including writing fiction, memoir, travel, for children, and newspaper journalism as well as on getting published and self-publishing.

Although the main festival is to be held over the first weekend in October, it is preceded by an exciting range of one-off events – a family story-telling with Taffy Thomas, an account of the nationalising of Carlisle’s pubs, historical fiction and historical reality with novelist Ian Ross and an evening with The Bookshop Band playing music inspired by books. These will be taking place between 29th September and 6th October and will start with an evening spent in the company of the delightful and irrepressibly humorous Alexander McCall Smith.

A new venture this year is a link up with the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Two of the speakers who will talk at that event, historian Juliet Barker, talking about The Brontës and Max Adams, historian, archaeologist and traveller, talking about “Land of the Giants”: a journey through the Dark Ages of Cumbria and the North, will also be talking in Carlisle. Their talks are part of the “Both Sides of the Border” theme linking the Edinburgh and Carlisle Festivals but the focus of their talks will be different in order to reflect the different geographical location.

Last year 1,900 tickets were sold (a 60% increase on the figures for the first festival in 2014) and of these, 20% of online sales were to people living outside Cumbria: people came from as far afield as Sligo, Mold, Bristol, Hexham, Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, Uxbridge, London, Manchester (to name but a few!) and discovered the delights of this wonderful, intimate festival. The various venues, from the 280 seat ballroom at the “Crown and Mitre” hotel to smaller meeting places around the city, are all within five minutes walk of each other so it is possible to fit in lots of talks, to shop and also to explore this historic city if you are unfamiliar with it.

With such an exciting programme on offer there is something for everyone so Borderlines Festival and the City of Carlisle look forward to your company in October.

Linda Hepworth

Tickets are now on sale either online, in person at Bookends, Castle Street, Carlisle, or by phone: 07412 366152

In addition to single tickets it is possible to buy Festival Venue Day Passes for a full day of talks at a selection of venues.

For more information visit – www.borderlinescarlisle.co.uk.

























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