Annual book festival celebrates 10th year


A one-day book festival held at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) will mark its 10th anniversary later this Saturday (23 March 2019).


Ross Bradshaw (right) at last year's festival  Picture: Ambrose Musiyiwa

States of Independence, taking place in DMU’s Clephan Building, presents a jam-packed programme throughout the day featuring 50 speakers across 26 sessions.

The literary event which celebrates independent publishing, writing and thinking will offer a glimpse of the UK’s radical publishing scene.

An eclectic line-up of academics, thinkers and best-selling authors will take part in book launches, readings and thought-provoking talks throughout the day.

Jointly organised by Five Leaves Bookshop and DMU’s Leicester Centre for Creative Writing, the day will give visitors a chance to hear from the region’s most exciting voices.

Panels and individual talks will explore a wide range of topics from identity in fiction to war and revolution.

Rod Duncan, who teaches Creative Writing at DMU, will be joined by writers Jane Adams and Yevgeny Salisbury to discuss dyslexia and creative writing. Alumna of the month, poet Carol Leeming will join a panel of writers to share her thoughts on how publishing can better reflect modern society.

Poets Alan Baker, Deborah Tyler Bennett and Mark Goodwin will be reading from their collections and popular crime writer, John Harvey will read from his latest novel.

Simon Perril, Director of Leicester Centre of Creative Writing, said: “States celebrates the role independent publishing has always had as a space for voicing the experiences of those on the cultural margins. The festival celebrates and shares the region’s cultural wealth and creative energies.”

He dubbed the event “a splash of colour against the corporate grey of mainstream publishing.”

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For the first time the university has partnered with the British Council to host one of Indonesia’s most celebrated young writers. Poet and fiction writer Norman Erikson Pasaribu will treat audiences to an exclusive reading from his collection Sergius Seeks Bacchus.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to hear from promising new talent as DMU’s Creative Writing students will unveil the publications they have produced as part of their degree.

Initially set up with a small pot of money to help boost local presses, the event was only meant to be one off. It has now become a major highlight in the region’s literary calendar, attracting hundreds of visitors each year.

Ross Bradshaw of Five Leaves Bookshop, said survival has been the festival’s major success over the past decade. “This will be our tenth year - a long time for an arts project to survive, primarily on good will and enthusiasm.”

Ross, who has spent more than 20 years as an independent publisher, says he is still hugely excited by the work of the small presses, “the variety of material that is produced, and the enthusiasm of the writers and editors.”

The festival has grown to be an incredible network with publishers travelling as far as Bristol to take part and is a rare opportunity for visitors to witness the spirit of grassroots publishing.

Kathleen Bell, Associate Professor and Acting Programme Lead of Creative Writing, said that accessibility has been an important aspect of the festival.

“It’s open to everybody and it’s free. Too often people are priced out of culture.

“In a climate where libraries are closing and festivals are facing funding cuts, it’s more important than ever for people to be able to come and listen to writers and be part of a literary community.”

Posted on Monday 18th March 2019

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