Berwick Literary Festival hailed a huge success

This year’s Berwick Literary Festival attracted a local, national and international audience and has been hailed a huge success.

By Amanda Bourn
Monday, 25th October 2021, 11:02 am
Updated Monday, 25th October 2021, 11:04 am
Poet Hollie McNish at Berwick Literary Festival livestream event with host Chloe Smith.
Poet Hollie McNish at Berwick Literary Festival livestream event with host Chloe Smith.

The four-day annual celebration of words – written, spoken and performed included a mix of Zoom webinars, live events at the Maltings, a live stream at the Radio Rooms and an online poetry session for local first schools.

Co-ordinator of festival publicity, Jackie Kaines Lang, said: “Feedback for the festival has been excellent. We’ve had many enquiries about event catch-up and can confirm that most sessions will be available on our YouTube channel in the next couple of weeks for people to enjoy – all free.”

Festival chairma Michael Gallico added: “The feedback we’ve been receiving is a wonderful endorsement of the hard work put in by the festival’s small group of dedicated volunteers. Headline events were particularly successful in terms of audience numbers – with poets Hollie McNish and Simon Armitage, historian William Dalrymple and former PM Gordon Brown all proving big draws. It was delightful to be back at the Maltings with Simon Armitage and Dyad Theatre Productions.”

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Simon Armitage at Berwick Literary Festival.

Poet laureate Armitage mesmerised a packed audience with poems from his Magnetic Field collection. Gordon Brown made a passionate call-to-action for global solutions to global problems based on arguments he presents in Seven Ways to Change the World. Poet Hollie McNish’s frank and funny take on modern issues wowed an appreciative audience at home and via a live stream at local venue the Radio Rooms.

And William Dalrymple’s whistle-stop tour of the relentless rise of the East India Company revealed the often ugly impact of super-corporations and capitalism on global military, economic and political equilibrium.

Organisers were delighted that children at seven local first schools in Berwick, Ford and Wooler enjoyed the inspiring input of award-winning poet Joseph Coehlo. In a fun-filled online hour, Joseph shared poetry and writing tips – including how to write a one-word poem – and launched a poetry writing challenge for participants. He will return next month to talk to the schoolchildren about their achievements.

The festival expressed gratitude to its supportive sponsors: Berwick-upon-Tweed Town Council, Berwick Trades Union Council, the Community Foundation, Greaves West & Ayre, Robert J Hales Ltd, Horncliffe Memorial Hall, Kreative Technology Ltd, Premier Building and Restoration, MT Richardson Ltd, and Simpsons Malt.