Audiences celebrate ‘special’ digital Manchester Literature

The University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing (CNW) was thrilled to present a number of events with the Manchester Literature Festival (MLF) this year, which has just wrapped up its latest outing - a successful all-digital event.

For the first time since 2006, the Festival took place solely online and occurred for three days during the weekend of 23 - 25 October. The festival held 17 streamed events with authors from across the globe, celebrating and discussing some of the best in contemporary writing in the world today.

“We are delighted to be working with the brilliant team at MLF to fly the flag for new writing and, at a time when we are more and more confined, to start and keep new conversations going with some of the most interesting new writers at work today," said the CNW's Prof John Mcauliffe.

Despite the very different circumstances, the conversations and talks still felt highly personal and achieved a high level of intimacy. Attendees took to social media to comment on the festival with literature lovers saying: “Absolutely loving @McrLitFest digital weekend, streaming straight to our living room”.

Another audience member said: “This feels so special. truly, sharing a virtual space w/650+ other people all here to listen to Dr Angela Davis and @JackieKayPoet is powerful and joyous. big up @McrLitFest for organising this event! #MLF20”.

As the official Higher Education Partner to the festival, CNW was delighted to present many of the phenomenal events taking over the weekend in partnership with the Manchester Literature Festival.

On Friday 23 October the programme set out to inspire with a conversation between contemporary writers Daisy Johnson and Sophie Mackintosh and Professor of New Writing, Jeanette Winterson. They discussed their latest, haunting new novels Bodies and Blue Ticket. Afterwards, The Shadow King author and booker prize shortlist Maaza Mengiste shared a dialogue with author and Professor of Creative Writing, Kamila Shamsie.

On Saturday, contemporary poets Romalyn Ante, Will Harris and Nina Mingya Powles read their poetry with Director of the Manchester Poetry Library Becky Swain, while established American authors Tayari Jones and Brit Bennett also took the virtual stage in a sincere, intimate conversation with Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for New Writing, Ellah P Wakatama, discussing their novels The Vanishing Half and Silver Sparrow.

Sunday’s partnership events kicked off with author Ali Smith in conversation with Kamila Shamsie, for a one-time-only screening that featured audio of Ali and Kamila with stunning images put together by filmmaker Sarah Wood.

This suite of collaborative literary events was rounded up by a warm and inspiring conversation between icon and activist Angela Davis and poet Jackie Kay.

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