Sunday 29 July 2018

A Day at Lowdham Book Festival, by Rosalind Rustom

The Lowdham Book Festival is a yearly event that takes place in the village of Lowdham just outside Nottingham, and as of 2018 has been running for nineteen years. This year, the event took place from Tuesday 19th to Saturday 30th June, and I travelled to Lowdham to attend the last day of the festival.

The locations for the talks were spread around Lowdham, the main hub of the festival being in the village hall. Here, there was the opportunity to buy books at a collection of stalls which showcased the work of authors talking at the festival, as well as tables to sit and enjoy food from the café. In the gardens outside the hall, there were marquees for the talks as well as areas for further book stalls.

I started my day by attending a talk titled ‘New Irish Writing’, which was given by Deirdre O’Bryne, a lecturer at Loughborough University and an expert in Irish literature. She discussed the new voices in Irish writing and the use of experimentation in terms of form and content. O’Byrne focused on the work of authors such as Louise O’Neill, Sara Baume, Sally Rooney and Eimear McBride, and led an entertaining and stimulating discussion concerning the topic of identity in Irish literature. 

Next, I attended 'The Shoestring Poetry Hour,' which was led by poetry publisher John Lucas and showcased the work of Roy Marshall and Jonathan Taylor. Roy Marshall gave a reading of a selection of his new and older poems, and explained that some were inspired from his work within hospitals in Leicester. Thus, many contained themes of illness and mortality, and Marshall’s readings gave the poems an enhanced harrowing undertone. Following this, Jonathan Taylor read a selection of poems from his new collection Cassandra Complex. Jonathan read a mixture of amusing as well as darker poems, which the audience enjoyed and resonated with them.

Lastly, I attended a talk titled ‘Crime fiction,’ which was led by Roz Watkins following the publication of her debut crime novel Devil’s Dice. Watkins briefly spoke about the novel and the inspiration of the Peak District in the setting for the novel, but more focused her talk on her personal struggles and obsessions with writing what she saw as a ‘publishable book,’ detailing her journey into the publishing world. She discussed her insecurities in her writing,  tackling negative reviews, and the life of writing as a job. This made for a very interesting and personal talk, and resonated with the audience, leading to many further questions that were posed during the Q&A section of the event. 

I had a lovely day at Lowdham Book Festival and thoroughly enjoyed the variety of talks that took place over the day. The event was well organised and a friendly atmosphere was clear across the festival, due to the passionate and engaged audience members as well as the many authors who took time to give talks or showcase their work. 

About the author
Rosalind Rustom is a recent graduate from the University of Leicester with a degree in English and American Studies, with a particular interest in fantasy fiction.

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