The North of England’s leading literature festival – Bradford Literature Festival (BLF) – today announces the full 2022 programme for its eighth annual live in-person festival featuring over 500 events for adults and children across 10 remarkable days between 24 June and 3 July 2022.
The festival, a highlight of the UK cultural calendar, includes speakers from across the worlds of literature, politics, history, and the arts, including Robert Peston, Delia Smith, Alastair Campbell, Ben Okri, John Barnes, Karen Armstrong, Sheikh Yahya Rhodus and Ed Balls.
Popular mainstays of the festival return including Poetry with a Punch, Lyrical Mehfil and the ever-popular Brontë Day and heritage tour alongside a new David Hockney Day. Sitting alongside will be panel discussions talks and workshops on subjects ranging from the 75th anniversaries of the publication of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl and the Partition of India, from the Platinum Jubilee to 100 years since the discovery of Tutankhamun. There will also be a diverse offering of music, theatre and performance ranging from Sufi music to conversations on the work of Paul Weller. A new theme for the festival this year is ‘In Memory of Andalusia’, which focuses on the cultural dialogue between Jewish and Muslim scholars in the “golden age”.
Bradford Literature Festival CEO & Artistic Director, Syima Aslam says,
“The aim of Bradford Literature Festival to create a space where people come together to debate and explore ideas, that shine a light on the big issues of the day, has never been more relevant. I am delighted that festival is back in person this year, and I am looking forward to once again welcoming our artists and audiences, to the centre of Bradford, the heart of Yorkshire.”
Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said:
“I’m delighted to support the 2022 Bradford Literature Festival.
“This year’s programme will connect the people of West Yorkshire to an amazing array of world-class writers. It covers a truly diverse range of subjects including sport, poetry, cooking, technology, and vital issues we all face such as climate change, global conflict, and inequality. I hope as many people as possible will take the opportunity to enjoy the festival’s live performances and workshops.
“The Bradford Literature Festival highlights that West Yorkshire is a region where culture and art is truly flourishing and that we offer some of the very best creative and cultural experiences in the UK.”
WORLD AFFAIRS & POLITICS
Economist Lord Jim O’Neill discusses his views on the global economy, the challenges of levelling up in the North, greater devolution, and more power to elected representatives in the metro regions with Sir Richard Lambert. Jonathan Freedland looks back at the astonishing story of the first Jews to escape Auschwitz and how their harrowing story helped save over 200,000 lives, while Alastair Campbell explores his career, what it takes to be a winner, his battles with depression and the big political moments of the past few decades from Brexit to the pandemic.
Featured Booker Prize-winner Ben Okri will be giving a guest lecture on poetry in a world of crisis; Mona Arshi and Ayisha Malik question the effect of silence on individuals and in society as a whole; and an English PEN co-sponsored event features their new anthology of international short fiction, All Walls Collapse, highlighting the physical and perceived walls and barriers separating humanity across the world.
Clare Fox and Matthew Feldman will be assessing what fuelled the rise in right wing politics, and Sebastian Payne will take audiences on a journey through Labour’s lost England and the collapse of the Red Wall across Yorkshire.
RACE & IDENTITY
Andrew Heavens will join author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay to discuss the story of a young Ethiopian prince taken from his homeland and forced to live in England for the rest of his life, while broadcaster and educator Jeffrey Boakye shares some of the eye-opening experiences from his time as a Black student and teacher in white British classrooms. Journalist Myriam François brings her thought-provoking podcast We Need to Talk about Whiteness to Bradford for a live recording with author and founder of Feminist Giant Mona Eltahawy.
Writer and RADA Chair Marcus Ryder has curated a series of insightful events for the festival. He appears alongside actor Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Pamela Jikiemi and Jami Rogers debating the reimagining of British history which includes casting Black actors in traditionally white roles. Stuart Lawrence, the younger brother of Stephen Lawrence, talks about what he has learned from life – the tools that have helped him live positively and kept him moving forwards when times have been tough. Comedian Dane Baptiste, comedy producer Carlton Dixon and author Nelson Abbey will discuss what shapes and informs black humour, while playwright Chinonyerem Odimba will be joined by journalist Tina Charisma and author Derek Bardowell to consider the importance of Black love in today’s world, focusing on Odimba’s play of the same name.
A panel discussing the significance of China’s power in Africa will be led by Hannah Ryder, CEO of Development Reimagined, PhD candidate in China and African relations Justus Nam and Shirley Ze Yu, who leads the China-Africa Programme at London School of Economics Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa. As the world marks the second anniversary of the Black Lives Matter movement against a backdrop of the war in Ukraine, writer and Chair of RADA Marcus Ryder will be dissecting this generation-defining grassroots movement.
In a series of events on the 75th anniversary of the Partition of India, award-winning historian William Dalrymple joins the festival to share the remarkable story behind his new book chronicling the rise and fall of the East India Company. Saeed Khan will be introducing the context to Partition, while Owen Bennett-Jones will reflect on the two dynasties that shaped the outcome. In an event based on her BBC R4 series ‘Untold Lives’, journalist Kavita Puri will share stories of families in Britain whose lives had been impacted by the events of 1947. A panel of experts will shine a spotlight on the friendship between the Indian Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore and the Bradford-born painter Sir William Rothenstein, while Lyn Innes reveals the fascinating tale of the last prince of Bengal, and Satvinder Juss and Chris Moffatt reflect on the life of Bhagat Singh, the revolutionary of the Indian Independence Movement.
Former royal correspondent Jennie Bond will host three fascinating events celebrating the Platinum Jubilee: leading journalist Robert Hardman will discuss his definitive biography of Queen Elizabeth II, acclaimed author Wendy Holden will delve into the life of Wallis Simpson as she explores infamous royal outsiders, and Richard J Aldrich and Rory Cormac will share the hidden history of the Crown’s relationship with British intelligence.
Acclaimed author and historian Alison Weir will be discussing her meticulous research into one of British history’s most iconic matriarchs – Elizabeth of York – while Neil Price will examine how Viking culture has influenced Britain. The international journalist Christopher de Bellaigue will be celebrating his new book on Suleyman the Magnificent with cultural mediator Nizam Uddin and Wolfson History Prize 2022 shortlisted Alex von Tunzelmann will be considering what fallen statues reveal about historical memory. In an event to commemorate the centenary of its establishment, Jan Carson and Julieann Campbell will reflect on 100 years of the Irish Free State.
Mike Anderson and Neil Hanson will revisit the dramatic events of Britain’s only war crimes trial that turned former friends to bitter enemies and John Carr will reflect on his father’s journey across as a young boy to escape the Nazis. To mark the 75th anniversary of the publication of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, Jan Carson will host a workshop on the benefits of journaling for wellness and recording memories.
In a strand of events marking the centenary of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, Christina Riggs and Dr Campbell Price will discuss how the young pharaoh inspired 100 years of culture. Archaeologist Kathleen Martinez will look back on her twenty-year long search for the tomb of Cleopatra. Bill Manley will delve into the mysteries of the court of the forgotten pharaoh Akhenaten. For budding Egyptologists, Ian Shaw will provide an overview of one of the greatest and oldest known civilisations.
Renowned comedian and writer Dom Joly will share his insight into the Middle East, religion, friendship, and growing old disgracefully alongside a special screening of his documentary Dom’s Big Lebanon Adventure. Much-loved poet and playwright Lemn Sissay has curated a series of in-conversation events with writers who share his own experience of growing up in care. Alex Wheatle, Sally Bayley and Antiques Roadshow expert Ronnie Archer-Morgan will be joining Lemn across the two festival weekends. Acclaimed ceramicist Keith Brymer Jones shares his journey from ballet dancer to lead judge of The Great Pottery Showdown.
Bradford Literature Festivals’s flagship Evening of Comedy returns featuring side-splitting sets by Sindhu Vee and Sukh Ojla and MC’d by Tez Ilyas, and Emma Smith dissects our magical relationship with books in her new book, Portable Magic. Founding editor of WritersMosaic, Gabriel Gbadamosi will chair a panel featuring Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Amal Said and Olumide Popoola on the current shape of mass migration in the wake of a century defined by war and decolonisation.
FEMINISM & GENDER POLITICS
Founder of the Everyday Sexism Project Laura Bates and Feminist Giant founder Mona Eltahawy will be examining the institutional and systemic misogyny engrained in our society, and then Mona will join Malika Booker and Magdalene Abraha in a tribute to the life of feminist theorist bell hooks.
Sandra Igwe, Eliane Glaser and Pragya Agarwal will explore how and why society continues to define women by their reproductive choices and Selma James will be talking about her career and the future of activism with journalist and sociologist Dr Anne Karpf and award-winning poet and registered clinical psychologist Sanah Ahsan. Clare Chambers, Catherine Simpson and Mona Eltahawy will be in conversation about how the pressure to change our bodies can often seem overwhelming while there will be discussions about what it means to be a feminist today and how to continue to fight for equality for women around the world.
Poorna Bell (In Case of Emergency), Salma El Wardany (These Impossible Things), Tina Beattie (Between Two Rivers) and Zeba Talkhani (My Past is a Foreign Country) will talk about acts of resistance and navigating the patriarchy. Jaspreet Kaur (Brown Girl Like Me) and Anchal Seda (What Would the Aunties Say?) share their experiences of growing up as young Asian women in the UK, modern feminism and cultural expectations, and Selma Dabbagh, lisa luxx and Sabrina Mahfouz will celebrate Arab women writers and the portrayal of love as they talk about the recent anthology, We Wrote in Symbols: Love and Lust by Arab Women Writers.
Jill Nalder, the inspiration behind the C4 hit TV show, It’s a Sin, will be reflecting on her experience as an HIV/AIDs activist in the 1980s outlined in her new book, Love From the Pink Palace. Polari, the award-winning LGBTQ+ literary salon, returns to Bradford, hosted by Paul Burston, with a panel of exciting writers, including Diana Souhami and Adam Lowe.
Sunday Times journalist Christina Lamb (The Prince Rupert Hotel for the Homeless) will consider what homelessness tells us about modern Britain with author Daniel Lavelle (Down and Out), and ancestry expert Gavin Rand, Amandeep Madra (UK Punjab Heritage Association) and Irfan Malik will be uncovering the stories of the Punjabi soldiers who fought in the First World War.
Mo Wilde (The Wilderness Cure) and Ruth Allen (Grounded) consider if a closer connection with nature can improve mental and physical wellbeing, while Ben Okri will be in conversation about his new environmental fable for our times, Every Leaf a Hallelujah. Geoff Tansey will assess the impact of the climate crisis on a potential global food crisis in his talk, Are We Ten Steps Away from Famine? and CM Collins and James Lloyd-Jones will advocate alternatives to our food system including vertical farming and eating insects.
Dudley Nevill-Spencer will lead a discussion on the new worlds brought by metaverses, and the areas it needs to avoid fulfilling its ambitions, and Daniel Moore assesses what is being done to combat the threat of cyberwarfare around the world. Journalist Sophia Smith Galer will be joined by technology researcher Carl Miller to explore the future of AI and its implications on society.
Sunday Times bestselling author Joanne Harris will be in conversation about her gripping new psychological thriller, A Narrow Door, and Sharon Ruston (The Science of Life and Death in Frankenstein) will talk about how young Mary Shelley wove contemporary science and medicine so ingeniously into the dark gothic texture of her 1818 masterpiece. Yvonne Bailey-Smith, mother of Zadie Smith, will examine resilience and immigration in her debut novel, The Day I Fell Off My Island, while Kasim Ali (Good Intentions) and Huma Qureshi (Things We Do Not Tell the People We Love) will look at the complexity of modern relationships. Hebden Bridge-based publisher Bluemoose Books will be launching their new title I Am Not Your Eve by Devika Ponnambalam. The author and filmmaker spent ten years researching the troubled story behind post-impressionist Paul Gauguin’s child-bride muse, Teha’amana. She will be in discussion with art historian Alice Proctor (The Whole Picture – the colonial story of Art in our museums and why we need to talk about it) and Natasha Howes, Senior Curator at Manchester Art Gallery, to explore themes of colonialism, art history and the silenced stories that span both worlds.
To celebrate the publication of The Great Tales Never End: Essays in Memory of Christopher Tolkien, University of Oxford’s Grace Khuri, contributing author John Garth, and co-editor Catherine McIlwaine will be discussing all things Lord of the Rings and much more. University of Leeds’ lecturer Catherine J. Batt, Tolkien biographer John Garth, and philologist and professor Alaric Hall will be discussing the varied and unlikely inspirations that shaped J.R.R. Tolkien’s expansive fantasy world, while authors Samantha Shannon and Courttia Newland will discuss Tolkien’s influence on their own writing, as well as fantasy literature and popular culture. To celebrate his lavishly illustrated book, The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien, John Garth will also reveal some of the real-life locations that inspired Tolkien’s iconic Middle-earth locations.
Richard Coles will be in conversation with former Gogglebox star Kate Bottley as he introduces his debut crime thriller, Murder Before Evensong. Activist and author Winnie M Li will be taking an unflinching look at abuse in the film industry and #MeToo in her new book, Complicit, alongside debut author Jessica Moor and bestselling novelist Mel McGrath. Saima Mir will be joined by ‘Queen of Northern Noir’ Liz Mistry, behavioural analyst Lesley McEvoy, former deputy head teacher turned debut crime writer JM Hall and British-Asian crime writer AA Dhand as they consider why Yorkshire has become such a compelling creative muse to so many. AA Dhand will also be hosting a workshop dedicated to the aspiring crime writers who are looking to fine-tune their craft. Acclaimed crime-fiction writers including Louise Hare and Vaseem Khan will discuss their work and fascination with a literary world where history and mystery intersect.
Old Bailey judge Wendy Joseph QC and author David Whitehouse will explore what happens after the court case has ended and scriptwriter for The Bill Dawn Cameron will join Bill Thomas, the first Black police officer in South Yorkshire and authors Moses McKenzie and Marianne Colbran in a debate on the way reporting crime feeds prejudice and perpetuates stereotypes. Angela Gallop and Niamh Nic Daeid will be offering insight into the world-leading, frontline forensics that solve crime.
TS Eliot Poetry Prize winner for C+NTO, Joelle Taylor and writer, poet, and multidisciplinary artist Malika Booker will share an intimate conversation with a focus on their work uplifting diverse and marginalised voices, while Malika will join Anthony Anaxagorou for ‘Poetry with a Punch’, an evening of quick-witted political verse. The annual poetry Mushaira will feature comedy poet Khalid Irfan and music from Rafaqat Ali Khan. Founding member of the Yorkshire Adabee Forum Ishtiaq Mir will debut his first collection of Urdu poetry and Ron Geaves and Yahya Birt will be reflecting on the life and poetry of the founder of the first British Mosque, Abdullah Quilliam. Lemn Sissay headlines a spectacular evening of poetry at this year’s edition of the ever-popular Lyrical Mehfil, alongside prize-winning poets Mona Arshi, Nikita Gill, and John Siddique.
FAIRY TALES FANTASY & SCI FI
Translator Yasmine Seale will be in conversation with Boyd Tonkin to discuss her ground-breaking achievement as the first woman ever to translate the Arabian Nights into English, and how she discovered many forgotten female protagonists within its pages. Professor of Archaeology Chris Gosden will uncover the vital role that magic has played in the history of human thought, as he delves into his new book, The History of Magic. Authors Jennifer Saint (Elektra), Susan Stokes-Chapman (Pandora), Claire Heywood (Daughters of Sparta) and Nikita Gill (Great Goddesses and The Girl and the Goddess) will join forces to explore the patriarchal origins of epic myths, and how new generations of female fantasy authors are subverting the legacy of mythological misogyny.
Bestselling author and journalist Stacey Halls will be joined by Daisy Hildyard and Sarah Maine as they consider how Yorkshire’s green and pleasant lands inspired their historical novels. Brian Groom (Northerners: A History), Kate Fox (Where There’s Muck, There’s Bras) and Colin Speakman will be debating what it means to be Northern, sharing their insight on the past, present and future of a vibrant and ever-changing region.
For film enthusiasts, David Wilson will be exploring Bradford’s film heritage, while film historians Bill Lawrence and Steve Abbott will look back on the life of the city’s most famous playwright, J B Priestley, and his time in Hollywood. Chair of Bradford Civic Society Simon Cunningham will lead a tour of the forty iconic blue plaques that celebrate notable people, buildings and spots around the city, while renowned Jewish heritage preservationist Sharman Kadish charts the journey of Bradford Synagogue’s architecture and congregation across the 19th century. There will be tours of the communities of Little Germany and Manningham – once home to a thriving Jewish Quarter – and a twilight visit to the haunting Undercliffe Cemetery. And the popular heritage tours around Bradford are back, for those looking to discover more about the local area.
The annual Brontë Day celebrates the Brontë sisters as a fundamental part of the world’s cultural literary heritage; Kate Fox will kick off the celebrations with ‘Brontë for Beginners’, an introduction to the sisters’ works. In a headline event, international fashion designer Giles Deacon, along with Sean Clayton of luxury linen company Peter Reed, suppliers of linen to the Queen, will be talking about their collaboration inspired by Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Sally Bayley will be leading a panel featuring authors Tasha Suri (What Souls Are Made Of, a YA remix of Wuthering Heights), Isabel Greenberg (Glass Town) and Shereen Malherbe (The Land Beneath the Light, a Palestinian re-imagining of Jane Eyre) as they look at how the Brontë sisters inspired their own works, while lecturer of 19th-century literature Dr Emma Butcher and author Bella Ellis will examine the life of Lydia Robinson, the rumoured lover of Branwell Brontë. Pauline Clooney, Monica Kendall and Michael O’Dowd will be discussing Charlotte Brontë’s attitudes to and experience of travelling abroad, and experts Ann Dinsdale and Rebecca Yorke from the Brontë Parsonage Museum will consider the cultural significance of the Little Book as it returns home to Haworth following a highly publicised fundraising campaign. The festival’s flagship event, the Brontë Heritage Tour, returns as Christa Ackroyd offers a unique insight into the lives of Bradford’s most famous siblings, and author Michael Stewart will be leading the popular Brontë Stones Tour around Haworth, sharing stories behind the written responses of Carol Ann Duffy, Kate Bush, Jackie Kay and Jeanette Winterson to the famous literary sisters, which were specially commissioned by Bradford Literature Festival in 2018.
Hockney Day is a new highlight of the festival programme this year, celebrating the city’s most influential artist David Hockney. Curator and art historian Helen Little will offer a beginners’ guide to the Pop Art pioneer, surrounded by his work at Salts Mill, where tours will also be running.
Artist and educator Roz Hall will be revealing how David Hockney creates his masterpieces on an iPad, including the techniques and skills used by the Bradford-born artist while Helen Little will also be in conversation as she offers a panoramic perspective of Hockney’s life and work, delving into his changing sources of inspiration and ever-evolving talent (David Hockney: Moving Focus). Hockney fans can also discover how Yorkshire and Bradford shaped the work of Britain’s Greatest Living Artist at Bradford’s civic art gallery, Cartwright Hall.
To tie in with Hockney Day, experts from the Saltaire Village Society will also be leading a fact-filled walking tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Saltaire, sharing insights into the village and its residents and workers during its industrial textile heyday.
ART, ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN
TV’s Salvage Hunter Drew Pritchard and international fashion designer Giles Deacon will join the festival for an in-conversation about their shared love of William Morris while local author Suzanne Fagence Cooper will be discussing the first joint biography of Morris and his wife Jane. Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A Museum, will reflect on the life of Josiah Wedgwood, the greatest potter that ever lived. To mark 50 years since the much-loved Impressions Gallery, director and curator of the Gallery Anne McNeill will look back on its exhibitions. An event in partnership with Bradford Civic Society will discuss the roles of heritage and architectural merit in the preservation of the city’s oldest buildings and University of Bradford historian George Sheeran will be leading a walking tour of Bradford’s architectural gems.
Strictly Come Dancing star and former politician Ed Balls will reflect on his fondest memories of food, sharing his favourite recipes and the stories that inspire them, after the release of Appetite: A Memoir in Recipes of Family and Food. Chef and owner of Darjeeling Express Asma Khan will be discussing her new book, Ammu, a tribute to the simple home-cooking of her mother’s kitchen in Calcutta. Harry Potter fans can enjoy a potion or two in a cocktail making workshop inspired by everyone’s favourite boy wizard.
HEALTH & WELLBEING
Iconic chef and television presenter Delia Smith will explore the nature of what it means to be human in her new book, You Matter, while Rebecca Riley from Yoga Limba will be introducing the art of yoga alongside sessions for all abilities. Khadijah Ibrahiim will host a live immersive performance on the ritual of loss and Bradford Royal Infirmary’s John Wright will be sharing his eye-opening Coronavirus diaries. Abdallah Rothman will be exploring the emergent discipline of Islamic Psychology while Rasjid Skinner will give a lecture dispelling the myths around jinn possessions, black magic and mental health from an Islamic perspective.
Sound healer Alison Dhuanna will take festival goers on sound journeys of gong, music and zen poetry and a tea ceremony, inspired by nature and infused with messages of peace and wholeness while self-care guru Laura Brand, will introduce ways for adults to celebrate joy in her newly-published book, The Joy Journal for Adults. John Siddique will be leading a workshop on expanding awareness and letting go of ego and his new book, Signposts of a Spiritual Journey, and one of the world’s leading psychologists Elaine Fox (Switchcraft) and David Robson (The Expectation Effect) will explore how harnessing the power of an agile mind can help us lead happier lives. Writer and broadcaster Horatio Clare (Heavy Light) will discuss mental health and its direct impact on our everyday lives and coach and trainer Smita Tharoor will be sharing the tools we need to eliminate unconscious bias from our lives.
Journalist Sarah Shaffi will be in conversation with panellists Sara Gibbs (Drama Queen) and Rebecca Schiller (Earthed) as they discuss the highs and lows of being diagnosed as neurodivergent in adulthood. Autism advocate and author Dr Camilla Pang will be leading a relaxed, autism-friendly session that unpicks the complex world of social interactions and what it means to be human. To discuss a creative experiment where six neurodivergent writers were selected to create new short stories, BLF will welcome project commissioner and Director of Every Brain, Ali Wilson, alongside two of the six writers – Kofi Gyamfi and Lizzie Milton – to find out what the experience was like and hear their stories first-hand. A workshop led by actor, writer and theatre-maker Lekhani Chirwa will give 12 aspiring neurodivergent writers the chance to learn more about their trade.
Fat White Family singer Lias Saoudi and author Adelle Stripe will join Horatio Clare for an in-conversation event based around Stripe’s new book, Ten Thousand Apologies, which chronicles the thrilling and turbulent career of the infamous cult band. To celebrate the 40th anniversary reissue of his book In The Crowd, Photographer Derek D’Souza will be discussing his relationship with iconic frontman of The Jam, Paul Weller, while sharing the stories behind some of his most prolific images of Weller, which form part of a new Barbican exhibition. Dan Jennings, host of The Paul Weller Fan Podcast: Desperately Seeking Paul, and author Stuart Deabill will share their experiences chronicling Weller, as well as discussing what the iconic singer means to his fan base. The Orchestral Qawwali Project will be featuring in the annual Sufiyana Kalaam and Bradford Cathedral will be filled with devotional music from across the religious spectrum as Bradford Literature Festival comes to a close, with a celebration of sacred songs and spoken word in a truly inspirational venue.
Footballing legend and commentator John Barnes will be discussing his new book The Uncomfortable Truth About Racism, while Stuart Fielden and Barrie McDermott, one of the greatest sporting rivalries of all time, will be joined by Rugby League Chief Executive, Ralph Rimmer, for a fiery discussion on why their rivalry ran so deep.
THE ART OF WRITING & THE POLITICS OF PUBLISHING
Publishers Kevin Duffy of Bluemoose Books, Ra Page of Comma Press, and Habiba Desai and Sara Razzaq of Fox & Windmill will be debating the power of independent publishing, whilst aspiring writers will have the opportunity to meet publishers from Simon & Schuster UK Ltd as well as taking a behind-the-scenes look at the publishing process with local author Matson Taylor. Self-taught artist Munaza Kulsoom of Bradical Press will be leading a workshop on zine magazine and there will be an opportunity to celebrate the launch of local indie publisher Fox & Windmill’s first anthology of short stories and poetry from British South Asian Writers Into the Wilds. Award-winning poet and BLF regular Anthony Anaxagorou returns to give an insight into getting your poetry published and his new magazine for emerging poets, and author Nikesh Shukla will lead workshops on character development and the craft of writing. Acclaimed memoirist Cathy Rentzenbrink will be sharing advice for memoir writing, while Alex Chisholm provides guidance on budding playwrights and Kamal Kaan will discuss his experience writing radio dramas, for fiction writers turning their attention to writing for audio.
FAITH, MYSTICISM & PHILOSOPHY
Renowned scholar and speaker Shaykh Yahya Rhodus will be showcasing spiritual enrichment, and Ron Geaves and Yahya Birt will be presenting the poetry of Abdullah Quilliam. Steven Horne, the first person of Romany descent from the UK to be awarded a PhD in Theology, will be discussing his latest book, while Peter Sanders, Michael Sugich and Karim Lahham will be exploring ‘Exemplars for Our Time’, a project aimed at introducing a new generation of young people to some of the greatest living Muslim sages. Alan Williams and founding editor of the Islamic World Report, Reza Shah–Kazemi, will both be uncovering the great 13th-century Persian poet Rumi’s origins and inspirations. New York poet Haleh Liza Gafori will host a performance reading and workshop around her translations of Rumi’s poetry, whilst Rasjid Skinner and Mariam Attia will be showcasing their innovative psychological interpretation of 10th-century Persian polymath Imam al-Ghazali’s notable works. Religious historian Karen Armstrong will discuss her latest book, while author and philologist Irving Finkel will lead a lecture on why the belief in ghosts is what makes us human.
A panel of media experts will discuss the role of religious broadcasting today, while Robin Dunbar will consider how and why every society in the history of humanity has lived with religion. Taking a fresh look at travel writing, authors Rebecca Lowe and Tharik Hussain will be in conversation about the disappearance of cultural heritage across the Islamic cultures they have visited on their travels.
IN THE SPIRIT OF ANDALUSIA
A new strand focusing on the spirit of cultural dialogue between the Muslim and Jewish scholars in the Golden Age of Andalusia. Wayne State University lecturer Saeed Khan will be exploring the truths, myths and rumours surrounding the ‘Golden Age’ of Andalusia, helping to separate the facts from the nostalgia during a conversation with Abdul Rahman Azzam. Inspired by the work of renowned poet and philosopher Ibn Arabi, Agitated Air authors Yasmine Seale and Robin Moger will perform their own responses to his iconic poems, while poets Aviva Dautch and Mimi Khalvati will introduce audiences to another Andalusian legend, Judah ha-Levi, in an evening of Andalusian poetry. Philosopher A.C. Grayling will tackle the most pressing issues we face today: climate change, technology, and justice, asking whether humanity can ever find the kind of common ground that is often attributed to the Golden Age of Andalusia.
BLF will present a screening of the classic children’s film, The Railway Children, as well as a very special preview of The Railway Children Return, a 2022 sequel to the original 1970 film, before the world premiere takes place in London. A special screening of Jamaican masterpiece The Harder They Come will be followed by a panel chaired by director of WritersMosaic, Colin Grant, discussing how Jamaica has had such a profound effect on global culture. A special screening of Gauguin: Voyage de Tahiti, which chronicles the artist’s life and work from bustling Paris to the remote island of Tahiti, will accompany I Am Not Your Eve, a panel discussion focusing on Gauguin’s relationship with his child-bride Teha’amana. There will also be a special preview of the Sundance 2022 documentary The Princess, which uses archive footage to retell Princess Diana’s story. Writing with Fire, which was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at this year’s Oscars follows the reporters at India’s only newspaper run by Dalit women as they go digital and the comedy-drama from Zain Abu Hamdan, Daughters of Abdul-Rahman, will have its British premiere at the festival. A screening of Les Soeurs Brontë, which tells the story of the Brontë sisters staying close to the facts about their lives and community, will offer festival visitors a very rare chance to see this classic in the cinema, having never been released in the UK. David Lean’s adaptation of the play Hobson’s Choice will be accompanied by a talk with BBC Four presenter Neil Brand, who will discuss the music by Malcolm Arnold, and JB Priestley’s classic horror debut The Old Dark House will be screened in a refreshed and restored digital version as it marks 90 years since its premiere. David Wilkinson’s documentary Getting Away with Murder(s) looks at the aftermath of the Wannsee Conference and why so many who committed murders were allowed to get away with it, and the newly restored and iconic banned film Nosferatu: Enie Symphonie Des Grauens, which was inspired by Bram Stoker’s Dracula, will also be screened.
Graphic artist, publisher at BHP Comics, and co-director of the National Centre for Comics, Sha Nazir, will be running a special session at BLF where budding comic creators can get personal, professional feedback on their work. Cosplay Dad and Manda Does A Cosplay will be discussing the process of turning beloved inspiration into incredible looks, as well as offering invaluable tips and practical tricks to seasoned cosplayers and newcomers alike. A panel discussion on The Cuckoo Cage, a book in which 10 authors redefine what it means to be a superhero in today’s ever-changing society, will see a handful of the contributing authors and project editor Ra Page sharing their responses. In celebration of poet, author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay’s visual poem, Superman was a Foundling, he will be joined by comic book artists Asia Alfasi and Mr Phoenix to explore the superhuman parallels between real foundlings and their illustrated counterparts, in partnership with The Foundling Museum. An interactive workshop, led by West Yorkshire artist Tasneem Kausar, will offer beginners the chance to immerse themselves in the unique and fascinating world of Japanese Manga art, while author and anime expert, Helen McCarthy, will explore the history and future of the anime genre, its relevance in culture, and the best entry points to beginning your anime journey. Academics including Jennifer Jackson-Preece and Manmit Bhambra, and lecturer and author Miriam Kent, will be discussing the evolving depictions of young Muslim women in comics and popular culture. A panel of creatives including Charlotte Bailey, Calico N.M, Asia Alfasi and Woodrow Phoenix will discuss the success story of innovative graphic novel publisher, Self-Made Hero, focusing on its new comic anthology Catalyst.
There is fun to be had for all the family as the annual Literature Unlocked: Family Fun Days returns to Bradford’s City Park, with performances, craft workshops and children’s film screenings, all of which are free for everyone to attend.
With interactive story time sessions with Belinda McKenna-Bicknell, Flick Goodman and Jem Packer, alongside crafting sessions, comic salvage workshops and a chance to discover more about the science of superheroes, there is plenty to keep little superheroes entertained. Family theatre troupe Wrongsemble will be leading a comic book themed adventure that proves that anyone can become a superhero with the right team behind them. Radiya Hafiza will take budding young writers to create recognisable characters in an exciting fairy tale writing workshop, while Karrie Fransman and Jon Plackett introduce their Gender Swapped Fairy Tales and a brave new world of classic children’s literature. Drag Queen Aida H Dee hosts a storytelling session celebrating inclusivity, acceptance and the power of difference and Gav Cross and George Hoyle will be reading their twisted and gripping stories.
For fans of myths, mummies and monsters, Norse myth super-fan Louie Stowell will be talking about her new book featuring eleven-year-old mischievous shape-shifter Loki, and Isabel Greenberg will share surprising facts and discoveries from the ancient world. Eden Ballantyne and Tom the Tale Teller will be hosting Storytime where little ones can pick their own adventure, while there will be plenty of crafting fun including a chance to make monstrous masks and glittering Egyptian jewels. Thiago de Moraes will lead an inspiring workshop on bringing the myths and monsters to life, and Sean Taylor will introduce the mysterious Bugaboo in a special interactive performance.
Lovers of magic will be spellbound as Skye McKenna introduces the Hedgely Coven and Lemn Sissay showcases his first children’s book, Don’t Ask the Dragon, alongside illustrator Greg Stobbs. Suzy Senior and Octopants return to the festival for a brand-new pirate adventure while Costa Book Award winner Jasbinder Bilan will be discovering magical worlds and celebrating the inspiration behind her books. Sarah Wedderburn-Ogilvy, Ursula Holden Gill and Alex Mullarky will host story times featuring magical beasts, other worlds and shapeshifters, and there will be plenty of crafting with Wrongsemble.
Other activities include baby yoga, rhythm sessions, baby raves and a Makaton sign language class to help children take their first steps into the world of signing.
Shaykh Haroon Hanif will be offering advice and parenting tips to Muslim parents and carers, reimagining lessons learned 500 years ago for today’s world. Local spoken word artist and poet Sharena Lee Satti will be leading a creative writing workshop that offers the chance for parents to unlock their creativity and share their personal journeys of parenthood.
This year also sees the return of live in-person schools’ events for both primary and secondary schools. Bookings for the Schools and Education Programme can be made here.
Tickets for the full programme for Bradford Literature Festival 2022 are on sale now. The festival will continue to provide free tickets for those living on benefits, in social housing, refugees and asylum seekers, young people, and those who need it most.
View the full 2022 programme on the Bradford Literature Festival Events page