Porlock Arts Festival 2011

I realised that I never got around to writing properly about Porlock Arts Festival 2010. I left you on tenterhooks relating to Germaine Greer’s talk of life and feminism (or feminine as the local paper would have it) and how she flirted with my husband but wrote me and my sister-in-law off completely but then I never came back and told you anything about it. Well, perhaps that moment has passed, although I will try and review it later this month. Suffice to say, Porlock is now gearing up for the 2011 festival and I have been sent some initial details.

This year the festival is being held on 8-11 September and so far the following has been annouced:

“Thursday 8th September is Explorers’ Evening!  Local author and keen Festival supporter Sir Christopher Ondaatje will open the evening discussing his new book The Last Colonial: Curious Adventures and Stories from a Vanishing World, as well as his discovery of the secrets of short story writing.  He will be followed by Stanley Johnson, author and former MP, whose family has farmed on Exmoor for 60 years.  He will tell of his recent climb up Mt Kilamanjaro in aid of the Gorilla Organization which raises funds to save gorillas in Africa.  He will also discuss his new book Survival: Saving Endangered Migratory Species.  His appearance in 2009 went down extremely well and we are very pleased to have him back at the Arts Festival.

On Friday 9th September we have the New Scorpion Band, one of the best traditional music groups around today.  Their repertoire includes ballads and close harmony songs, instrumental tunes, poetry, stories and folk drama.  They will perform their programme John Barleycorn is Dead which is a musical celebration of farming and the land and includes several folk songs collected by Cecil Sharp in Somerset – John Barleycorn, Bridgwater Fair and the Sheep-shearing Song amongst others!

On Saturday 10th September we have an amazing trio of contemporary writers – Ali Smith, Philip Hensher and Jackie Kay

     *Ali Smith’s first book Free Love and Other Stories was published in 1995.  Her second novel Hotel World (2001) was short-listed for both the Orange and the Booker Prize for Fiction.  Her latest book There But For The is to be published in June 2011.  She is a regular contributor of articles and reviews to newspapers and journals.
     *Philip Hensher is the author of several novels and short stories and he wrote the libretto for Thomas Ades’ opera Powder Her Face.  His novel The Northern Clemency was short-listed for the 2008 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.  He has recently published a new novel King of the Badgers.  He is a regular broadcaster and contributor to newspapers and journals.
     *Jackie Kay published her first volume of poems The Adoption Papers in 1991.  She has since published several more collections and her poetry has appeared in many anthologies.  Her first novel Trumpet was published in 1998.  She has also published collections of short stories, and works for children.  Her Maw Broon Monologues were short-listed for the 2010 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry and the autobiographical The Red Dust Road featured as Radio 4’s Book of the Week earlier this year.  She also writes widely for stage and television.

In addition to the regular Festival features – Glenthorne Literary Museum, the Poetry Picnic, the Art Exhibitions and Open Studios, the competitions and the pub quiz – there will be another Local Authors’ Day following on from the successful event in 2010.  And there will be some new events too including an all-ages Choral Workshop and a Sunday afternoon Tea Dance.”

It all sounds extremely interesting and I am looking forward to further details being released in due course.


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