The Bradford Literature Festival team is led by self-confessed book worm Syima Aslam (right) and filmophile Irna Qureshi (left), who decided to combine their passions to create a cultural and literary extravaganza celebrating the written and spoken word. The result is a festival that will not only host renowned authors, speakers and performers from around the world to create a stimulating pageant of words, debates and ideas, but will also feature other art forms which have an intimate relationship with the spoken word such as film, theatre and music.
They are both passionate about the importance of language and literacy, and the role it plays in enabling children and young people to realise their potential. An understanding of the English language is crucial to the understanding of every other subject in the curriculum, and the inability to effectively use and deploy language is a key reason for under attainment. However, an understanding and appreciation of language cannot come from school alone, it has to come from a love of the language in all its forms. The aim of the festival is to help take literacy out of the classroom, by inspiring parents and children, through innovative festival and outreach programmes.
Marketing & Development Manager – Georgina Lennon
George deals with everything from funding and relationships to the festival brochure and a million other things besides. Caught between her love for Yorkshire and her Italian roots she is a fiery, Yorkshire Pudding Professional and the only thing she loves more than pasta is her dog (Hugo Stiglitz!), with whom she is completely obsessed. Aside from being a self-confessed book addict, George loves film, TV and music; she is equally at home curled up on the sofa with Tony Soprano as she is crammed in at the front of a venue being crushed by aging rockers.
Book recommendation: American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Film recommendation: Janis: Little Girl Blue
Marketing & Production Executive – Rebecca Duncan
Becca joined the festival as an intern in 2016 and has progressed to an integral role within the festival team. Having moved to Bradford after studying for her degree in York, she’s not in fact native to the area, however she’s quite pleased with the decision since it perfectly suits her love of curry. Aside from reading books, Becca considers herself something of a Culture Vulture, spending her time in museums and theatres, and exploring the best that her new home city has to offer.
Book suggestion: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Film suggestion: The Commitments
Programme Research & Production Executive – Scarlet Brearley
Another former intern, Scarlet helps to research and create the festival programme, specialising in children and young people’s events. She studied English and American Studies at the University of Nottingham, yet controversially decided to do a year abroad in Canada; ask her about anything Canada related (so long as you’re prepared for a lengthy conversation). Scarlet considers herself something of a coffee and red wine connoisseur, since she’s usually seen with one or the other in her hand!
Book recommendation: On Beauty by Zadie Smith
Film recommendation: Sleepless in Seattle
Marketing Assistant – Mariam Jabeen
As the Marketing Assistant, Mariam helps to support everything from digital marketing to print. A bubbly, Yorkshire lass with a proper Northern accent, she is a part time girly-girl, mixing her love of fashion with an obsession for cars and gaming. When she’s not out feeding her shoe addiction she’s fixed to her PS4! The way to Mariam’s heart is through food, if she can’t be found in the office it’s probably because she’s out shopping for her next meal.
Book recommendation: Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Film recommendation: Lights Out