Courthouse Words – a Festival of writing, discussion and spoken word performance

A week long celebration of words: poetry, prose and scripts for everyone from children to adults. Unless stated otherwise, all events are at Otley Courthouse

* Nominate Otley's first town poet
* Exhibition of photographs of My Favourite Book
* Weds 2 March - 7-8pm Otley Library - On an Eastern Breeze (Free)
* Thurs 3 March - 2pm - Film - My Week with Marilyn (£4)
7.45pm - Film - Gone Girl (£4)
* Fri 4 March 7pm - Children's Book Night (£6/£4 or £7/£5 on the door)
9.30pm - Come to Where I'm From: Otley (presented by Paines Plough) £8/£6 or £9/£7 on the door)
* Sat 5 March - Writers Surgery with James Nash 10am - 1.30pm £10 for 30 mins must be booked in advance)
10.30am - 1pm Page to Screen (£10/£8 or £11/£9 on the door)
11am - 1pm - Building a Character (£10/£8 or £11/£9 on the door)
1.15pm - 3.15pm Writing for Popular Television (£15/£12 or £16/£13 on the door)
Otley Library - What Does She Do? Jacqui Honess-Martin (Free)
7.30pm Super Sleuths a 1930's Murder Mystery (£12/£8 in advance or £13/£9 on the door)
* Sun 6 March
9.30am - 3pm - Meet at the Buttercross 5.5 miles easy walk - Walk with Words (free)
11am - 1pm Locked Mystery Box Game (£6/£4 or £7/£5 on the door)
11am - 1pm Myth and Storytelling (£10/8 or £11/£9 on the door)

About the authors/artists

I was born in 1949 in west London. My childhood was a fifties, suburban one, so for most of us boys it involved a lot of respectability and repression, and grey flannel shorts until you were fourteen. If you were a girl you spent a lot of time helping Mummy in the kitchen (like Jane in the Ladybird, Peter and Jane books). My childhood and teenage years were difficult, and full of drama, which although challenging, has been a great source of material in my later life as a writer. For those who are interested, I touch on my personal history in the story Exile in Four Fathers.

I came to Leeds in 1971 to do an MA at the University. And like many before and many after me, decided to stay, living at one address, or another, in Leeds 6, ever since.

Much of the seventies, eighties and nineties were taken up with teaching which I turned out to be not bad at, particularly with ‘difficult’ or ‘naughty’ kids. In loco parentis, another story from Four Fathers will tell you a little more about my early years as a teacher.

And then the middle nineties, whacked out by my life and all its changes, I eventually decided to leave teaching because I wanted to try to make it as a writer. I had been lucky enough to meet award-winning writer Char March (wonderful poetry, short, stories and radio plays) and she, with great selflessness, gave me a fantastic apprenticeship in writing and performance. The fruits of that friendship can be found in Deadly Sensitive.

I spent the next eight years in writing. I worked for the Metro newspaper, the Leeds Guide, and Northern Exposure, and became Writer in Residence for organisations as diverse as the National Library for the Blind and HM Prison Wakefield. This work extended into schools, so I’m the Writer in Residence for Calderdale High Schools, and for the University of Leeds, Faculty of Education. I also developed a secondary career hosting literary events around the country, talking to and interviewing writers about their work. I can be often be seen on the platform of the Ilkley Literature Festival chairing events with folk as diverse as Sarah Waters, Billy Bragg or Andrew Motion.

Some impressions of my present life can be gained from reading Coma Songs. But most of the poems have no autobiographical basis to them, apart from showing what I was interested in at the time of writing each poem.

Tour Information

2nd March 2016
Otley Courthouse