North Cornwall Book Festival: a preview

By Sarah Purnell

This weekend promises to be a good ‘un. With a whole range of different workshops and speakers at North Cornwall Book Festival, it’s difficult to choose which to be most enthusiastic about. The team from the School of Writing and Journalism at Falmouth University are going to be dotted about, trying to soak up as much of it as we can.

For poetry lovers there’s stuff aplenty: on Saturday, the fire poet, Philip Wells teams up with Victoria Field and they will be doing a reading of their work, with a musical accompaniment. Then later, over in the barn, there’s a poetry workshop, exploring the therapeutic potential that writing and reading poetry can have. Pen and paper at the ready!

I’ll be embarking on my own kind of therapy in Bibliotherapy with Elle Berthoud who, after our appointment, will write me a prescription for reading happiness. I have no idea what to expect, but it’s going to be an enlightening experience either way!

Also on Saturday, Aysha Bryant from our team will be setting off on the Betjeman walk, guided around Trebetherick and visiting places of interest to John Betjeman buffs.

I’m looking forward to hearing John Crace talk about his new post as the Guardian’s sketch writer. If anyone has read his Digested Reads, you’ll know this will be a fun hour!

Sunday kicks off with a short story workshop with Tiffany Murray. Let’s hope we didn’t have too much fun with The Bookshop Band the night before, because it’s pencils to the paper again; creative caps on, chaps.

We will also be over at the Betjeman marquee, listening to Dr Jenny Balfour-Paul. Titled Textales: If Cloth Could Talk, this should be an interesting discussion about the cultural significance of textiles, and Balfour-Paul’s search for indigo. There will be the chance to actually touch the materials too.

So from papermaking, to asking “What is fiction for?” there’s a great deal going on – and it all comes to a head on Sunday evening when festival founder Patrick Gale will be interviewing fellow author, Louisa Young.

We’ll also be pouncing on festival-goers as they emerge from the workshops and talks to ask them about their experiences. And look out for our interview with Jill Murphy; the author of the popular Worst Witch stories will be taking up residence in the Trefelix dining room to talk about how she wrote, and made, her first books.

So, if you see one of us – we’ll be easier to spot: lanyards, notebooks, furiously scribbling, asking for selfies – come and say hello.

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