Durham Book Festival 2022 begins!

summonedbyfells on Flickr with license.


As the weather gets chillier and Starbucks begins to brew their signature pumpkin spice lattes again, autumn is the perfect season to curl up under your duvet and dive into the world of poetry and prose. With less than a week left until the Durham Book Festival, I wanted to introduce you to some of the festival events that might catch your eye!


About the festival

The Durham Book Festival celebrates its 32nd anniversary this year, founded in 1990. It is one of the UK’s oldest literary festivals. Through the years, the DBF has been commissioning fresh literature and has been hosting a wide variety of literary events in the cosy city of Durham. It has also been inviting renowned writers to join the festival as laureates – Raymond Antrobus and the national Poetry Laureate Simon Armitage has visited in the past. This year, writer Hannah Lowe – who has recently won the Costa Book of the Year Award – has been selected as the laureate.

If you’re a bibliophile who’s also a Durham University student (which I assume many of you are if you’re reading this in the first place!), there’s great news for you –the festival is held in partnership with Durham University, and DU students can get discounted tickets for some festival events. Also, DBF allows you to make visits to arts/literary venues all over Durham – events are mainly held at the Gala Theatre and Clayport Library, but some are held at a local bookshop or even a launderette all the way up in Gilesgate! This will be a great opportunity to walk through Durham City with your book-loving friends, admiring the beauty of blushing leaves with the beauty of language. If you’d like to go the festival but are also tempted to stay at home, don’t worry! Snuggled up by the radiator with a cup of hot chocolate and cookies, you can join the festival by getting live-streaming tickets which are also more affordable than in-person tickets.


Festival events

Here are some of the festival events you’d want to attend:


The Announcement of the Gordon Burn Prize

Date & time: 13th October, 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm

Venue: Gala Theatre

Ticket Prices: £15 (£12 discounted)


If you are interested in progressive literature and are free next Thursday evening, why not book tickets for this award event? The Gordon Burn Prize celebrates ‘literature that is forward-thinking and fearless in its ambition and execution’, and its ceremony has been hosted by the Durham Book Festival for years. At this event, you’ll be able to listen to readings of shortlisted books and get to witness who the winner is for this year’s prize. This year’s shortlisted writers include Margo Jefferson – who explores the topic of self and the Black female body in Constructing a Nervous System: A Memoir – and Lea Ypi – who writes about her experience growing up in communist Albania in Free: Coming of Age at the End of History.


The Shining Levels present music inspired by The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Date & time: 15th October, 8 pm (Door time: 7 pm)

Venue: Old Cinema Launderette

Ticket Price: £16 (plus booking fee)


If you love crossovers of music and literature (I’m looking at you Kate Bush lovers) , you wouldn’t want to miss this lovely little performance. The Shining Levels is a band of folk musicians based in northern England, and they produce music that is inspired by literature. Their most recent album is based on Pat Barker’s novel The Silence of the Girls, which is a feminist re-telling of The Iliad. This album is known to feature genres other than folk, such as psychedelic pop and orchestral music, so you’d love this event if you’re into experimental music as well. Also, wouldn’t you want to find out how a local launderette would look like as a musical venue? 


How Writing can Travel: workshop with Helen Mort

Date & time: 16th October, 11 am – 1 pm

Venue: Clayport Library

Ticket Prices: £15


The Royal Society of Literature writer Helen Mort will join aspiring writers at Clayport Library for a creative writing course! Autumn is indeed a lovely season to read, but it is also a season that inspires you to write your own poem or novel, surrounding you with cool breezes and beautiful scenery. This course’s topic is ‘place writing’, so you’ll get a chance to think about what influence the places you’ve been to or have lived in have on you and let your creative ideas blossom into your own piece of literature. 

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