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WoWFest celebrates 21 years with a radical programme of famous faces

Ken Loach, Michael Rosen and Jon Snow are among the line-up for this year's WoWFest which is marking its 21st birthday with a packed programme of online events next month.

The annual celebration of the written and spoken word is organised by Liverpool's Writing on the Wall.

WoWFest: 21 Years of Radical Writing will also feature appearances by and input from Elif Shafak, Lady Phyll, Walter Mosley, Ben Okri, singer-songwriter Tracey Thorn, Laura Bates, Shuggie Bain author Douglas Stuart, Kit de Waal, Nikesh Shukla, Hassan Blasim and Maxine-Hong Kingston among a host of others.

A special celebratory £21 early bird all festival pass will give holders access to more than 40 events across the month.

The festival opens at the start of May, with an ‘In Conversation’ on May 4 with award-winning author Kit de Waal whose debut novel My Name is Leon was an international bestseller. Her latest book, a collection of short stories, is called Supporting Cast.

On May 6, Michael Rosen will be 'In Conversation' about his new book Many Different Kinds of Love - a diary chronicling his hospitalisation with Covid in March 2020, his long time in recovery and the stories of the healthcare workers looking after him.

Filmmaker Ken Loach will deliver a ‘Rebel Rant’ on May 7 titled Change Has Got to Come, while on May 12, broadcaster Jon Snow talks about The Importance and Future of Broadcast Journalism.

There are also ‘In Conversation’ events featuring The Woman Warrior and China Men author Maxine Hong-Kingston who will talk about her life as a writer, peace activist, teacher and mother (May 5); 2020 Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart (May 8); Nikesh Shukla - author, screenwriter and one of the most prominent UK voices on diversity and inclusion in the arts (May 11), and Ben Okri (May 14) who will share his powerful new collection of poetry, A Fire in My Head.

Above: Kit de Waal. Top: Ben Okri, Shuggie Bain/Douglas Stuart and Ken Loach


Meanwhile on May 11 Lady Phyll, founder of UK Black Pride and executive director of Kaleidoscope Truth, joins WoWFest to discuss the impacts of the pandemic on Black queer communities, and on May 15 Elif Shafak talks about How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division.

The festival also encompasses panel discussions, workshops, book launches and children's events involving Michael Rosen, along with the Matt Simpson Memorial Reading.

Writing on the Wall was recently named as Arts Organisation of the Year in the Liverpool City Region Culture and Creativity Awards.

Co-directors Mike Morris and Madeline Heneghan said: “We have some really significant names lined up, from leading iconic film makers to Booker prize winners, legendary legal minds, musicians, spoken word artists, campaigners, activists and local writers and artists.

“We’re looking forward to revealing further high-profile names in the coming weeks.”

WoWFest runs from May 1-31. Full programme details and tickets on the website HERE