Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Feast of Words; the Durham Book Festival Offers the Usual Glorious Celebation of Words. David Whetstone Picks out Some Tasty Morsels BOOK FESTIVAL

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Feast of Words; the Durham Book Festival Offers the Usual Glorious Celebation of Words. David Whetstone Picks out Some Tasty Morsels BOOK FESTIVAL

Article excerpt

Byline: David Whetstone

It promises "inspiration and entertainment for curious minds" and Durham Book Festival looks well equipped to deliver. Its three-week programme features more authors than you can shake a bookmark at and from many walks of life.

What, you imagine, would veteran firebrand politician Dennis Skinner say to John Carey, emeritus professor of English at Oxford, or the theologian Kevn Carey to performance poet (and contender for the Mercury Music Prize) Kate Tempest? Most of these authors' paths won't cross but it's fun to speculate. Even if they never meet, their books share shelf space in shops, libraries and living rooms.

For anyone who likes the written and the spoken word, Durham Book Festival - programmed once again by New Writing North - offers an embarrassment of riches.

There's young Ms Tempest, for a start. Her stock has risen since she agreed to appear and she is on the verge of bestriding the worlds of music and literature.

In here they come together. But on October 17 at the Gala Theatre she will present her new poetry collection, Hold Your Own, described as "an ambitious, multi-voiced work based on the mythical figure of Tiresias, the blind Greek prophet who spent seven years transformed into a woman".

Kate pulls the myth into the present day with a recognisable cast of characters and her rapper's delivery.

Her last collection, Brand New Ancients, won the Ted Hughes Award for new work in poetry. She's gonna be big.

But arguably better known and certainly more widely read - her Wild Swans was devoured by millions - is Jung Chang who is coming to the Gala on October 17 (she precedes Kate Tempest by a couple of hours) to talk about her latest blockbuster biography.

It is an incredible book called Empress Dowager Cixi, about whom many in the West will have known nothing until Jung Chang first put finger to keyboard. The author offers an alternative view of someone who has been portrayed in an unkind light. …

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