So, Chorlton Arts Festival is really in the swing of things, with performance and visual arts jostling to share the limelight, and plenty of poetry and prose if you fancy something perhaps a little more sedate.
Tonight, south Manchester-based novelist, short story writer and fecund blogger Elizabeth Baines will be installed in the lovely bedomed surrounds of Chorlton Library, reading from her work and chatting about the charmed life of the published writer. Well, maybe I'm embellishing that last point slightly, but she will be treating the audience to an extract from her most recent novel, Too Many Magpies. This I'm looking forward to as it's set round our way (where there are indeed a lot of magpies, vying for airspace with quite an abundance of jackdaws) and has been described variously by critics as “moving and compelling”, “beautifully crafted”, “accomplished and thoughtful”. If we’re good, she may also read from her story anthology, Balancing On The Edge Of The World.
Not that I'm name-dropping or anything, but I've chatted to Elizabeth in the Twit-o-Sphere a few times and I recently got to meet her in real life at a Manchester Blogmeet. I thought it would be OK therefore to drop her a line to see what her plans are for later, and thankfully it was. She divulged (whisper): “I'll be reading a new story – which has just been longlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize and is set in Manchester – and a snippet from Too Many Magpies. I'll also be opening things up for discussion – I love doing these readings, and look forward to what the audience has to say.”
I look forward to it myself! As well as Elizabeth’s appearance, the remainder of the Chorlton Arts Festival programme (which wraps up on Sunday) is packed with literary goings-on. Thursday, for example, sees two book launches in one with poets and University of Salford creative writing lecturer colleagues Judy Kendall and Ursula Hurley. Check out the Chorlton Arts Festival website for full details of all the events and exhibitions.
ADDENDUM 26/05/10: There's a bit of a review of Elizabeth's Chorlton Library appearance, and a wee round-up of other bookish shindigs at Chorlton Arts Festival, written by my own fair hand here on the wonderful Manchester Lit List blog, part of Manchester Libraries' online presence.