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Monday 14 October – Monday 21 October 2019

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Festival news

Festival will make you think

With just 2 weeks to go before this month’s festival, there are only a handful of tickets left for many events with some events already sold out. To get your hands on some of the last few remaining tickets, you’ll need to move quickly.

It promises to be our most fascinating and diverse line-up yet.

On Saturday, 5 October 2019 at 12noon at Touchstones Rochdale, there’s a pre-festival performance in partnership with the Muslim Arts and Culture Festival. The magic of the much celebrated poet Maulana Rumi’s ‘Alchemy of Love’ will be performed by artist and singer Gulcin Bulut and the Sahba Ensemble. Persian poet Rumi has fired the imagination of millions of readers worldwide as the supreme poet of love and is known as the Islamic world’s Shakespeare.

Gulcin Bulut and the Sahba Ensemble.

On Tuesday, 15 October 2019 at Rochdale Sixth Form College Theatre the philosopher, writer and renowned speaker Jules Evans will be talking about ways to find a new lease of life by ‘thinking outside the books.’ The best-selling philosopher is a co-organiser of the London Philosophy Club, the largest of its kind in the UK and he gives talks and workshops on his practical philosophy of suffering less and flourishing more around the world.

Jules Evans.

The ‘Women Who Write: Dystopia’ event on 16 October will feature bestselling author of end-of-the-world thriller The Last, and Fiona Shaw, author of YA hit Outwalkers, talking about the concept of dystopia (an imagined state or society in which there is great suffering or injustice), and the impact of female writers on the genre. Discussing the rise and revival of women-driven dystopian fiction, from Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel-turned-weirdly-popular TV series The Handmaid’s Tale to Naomi Alderman’s recent award-winner The Power, this is set to be a thought-provoking evening at Touchstones.

If you are feeling stuck, frustrated or at a loss of where to go next with your writing, then a taster masterclass with top author Sophie Hannah is what you need. At The Royal Toby Hotel on Thursday, 17 October 2019 Sophie will talk about how to thrive as a writer, whether you have completed a manuscript, haven’t quite started, or don’t even know what it is you’re going to write! Sophie’s books have sold by the million worldwide, and her psychological crime novel, The Point of Rescue, was adapted for television. Sophie is also the official author of the new Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot mysteries, including The Mystery of Three Quarters.

Sophie Hannah.

On Friday, 18 October 2019 multi award winning American author Yvonne Battle-Felton will talk about her debut novel, ‘Remembered’. Set in 1910, it deals with segregation and slavery, telling a powerful and haunting story about understanding where you have come from, losing loved ones, and finding strength, belief and courage to survive. She is the recipient of a number of writing accolades, including the Northern Writer’s Award, and ‘Remembered’ was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction earlier this year.

Yvonne Battle-Felton.

200 years on from The Peterloo Massacre, Paul Magrs, Paul Fitzgerald (aka ‘Polyp’) and Eva Schlunke will talk about their work around this event at The Curtain Theatre on Saturday 19 October. Paul is the writer of Doctor Who: The Peterloo Massacre, an audio drama produced by Big Finish which saw the 5th Doctor (Peter Davison) travel back in time to the event. Polyp and Schlunke are the creators of the graphic novel, Peterloo: Witnesses to a Massacre, bringing a new dimension to the telling of this hugely important historical event.

On Sunday, 20 October 2019, Manchester playwright and performance poet Hafsah Aneela Bashir will be performing her latest work at the Rochdale Sixth Form College Theatre. Her debut poetry collection, The Celox and the Clot, was published last year. She has had 2 sold out one-woman shows at HOME Manchester and has recently been awarded the prestigious Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship. Her slam poem, ‘There No Such Thing as Islamophobia’ is available to on Youtube, and offers a fascinating insight into a young Muslim woman’s experience of Islamophobia in Britain.
Other guests include legendary broadcaster John Craven, feel-good fiction writer Milly Johnson, Gogglebox and Radio 2 star Reverend Kate Bottley, author and activist Erin Ekins and many more.

Hafsah Aneela Bashir.

The festival is aimed at celebrating and promoting the Maskew Collection of classic literature and philosophy at Rochdale Central Library, encouraging people to engage with books and ideas. Annie and Frank Maskew, a Rochdale couple who shared a passion for reading and thinking, met in Rochdale Library in the 1950s and left a sum of money to be used on resources and events related to literature and philosophy to ensure classic works are available for future generations.