The Bristol Women’s Literature Festival returns for 2015
Some of the literary scene’s brightest stars are arriving in Bristol to join a unique festival that celebrates women’s writing.
After its dazzling success in 2013, the Bristol Women’s Literature Festival is delighted to announce it is returning to Watershed on the 14th and 15th March 2015.
The Bristol Women’s Literature Festival aims to celebrate the work of women writers working today and throughout history. It brings together the diverse and exciting talent of women writers, academics and activists to showcase our fantastic literary heritage.
The fascinating and varied programme features award-winning novelist and short story writer, Michele Roberts, winner of Faber Young Poet of the Year Helen Mort, writer and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo, activists and writers Beatrix Campbell and Nimko Ali, and leading academic Professor Helen Hackett.
These women are, without doubt, some of the most influential and vibrant writers working today.
The festival takes place across the weekend of 16th and 17th March at famous Bristol arts venue, Watershed. Organised by feminist writer Siân Norris, the event aims to celebrate the work of women writers in a literary scene that is all too often dominated by male voices.
‘A stage full of brilliant, brainy, articulate and witty women discussing literature, women, history, activism and the future. An audience full of literature-lovers and woman-likers of all ages, races and walks of life. If anything restores a woman’s faith that we are not just roaring but writing and reading, it’s the Bristol Women’s Literature Festival.’
Paris was a Woman film screening
The festival opens on Saturday 14th March with a screening of the award-winning documentary film Paris was a Woman. Greta Schiller’s 1996 film explores the lives of the extraordinary women who made their home on Paris’ Left Bank in the 1920s, including Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, Colette and Sylvia Beach. The film will be followed by a brief audience discussion, chaired by Siân Norris.
Women, Feminism and Journalism
In the afternoon, writers and activists, Beatrix Campbell and Caroline Criado-Perez, activist Nimko Ali, and Helen Lewis, the deputy editor of the New Statesman, will be talking about their work and the relationship between feminism and journalism.
Poetry, Prose and Palestine
On Saturday evening award-winning film director and poet Annemarie Jacir and novelist Selma Dabbagh will read and discuss their own work, and the poems of other well-known Palestinian writers. This event is organised in collaboration with the Bristol Palestinian Film Festival, as part of Conversations about Cinema: Impact of Conflict.
Women Writing in Shakespeare’s Time
Sunday opens with a talk from Professor Helen Hackett on the women of Shakespeare’s time. Professor Hackett will introduce us to the women writers of the Renaissance who have been written out of history, and the process of bringing them back into the canon where they belong.
Women Writing Today
The final event of the festival brings together some of the most exciting and innovative women working in the UK today. Novelist and short story writer Michele Roberts, first time novelist Amy C Mason, poet Helen Mort, playwright and memoirist Samantha Ellis, and writer and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo will join Sarah LeFanu to discuss their work.
Why do we need a women’s literature festival?
Although women have always written and always read, the UK literature scene continues to be very male dominated. A 2012 survey by For Books’ Sake revealed that at Manchester Literature festival, only 20 out of 74 speakers were women, whilst at the Latitude Literary Area, women made up 15 of 53 performers. Meanwhile, the VIDA Count shows the gross gender disparity in major literary publications and book reviews.
The Bristol Women’s Literature Festival aims to:
- To celebrate the diversity and creativity of women writers
- To counter the male dominance of literature and cultural festival line-ups
- To promote women’s writing and history
Founder and director Siân Norris explains:
‘I decided it wasn’t enough to be frustrated at the continued marginalisation of women writers in our cultural scene. I needed to do something about it. The success of the 2013 festival was phenomenal. Everyone wants to be part of this event. It is a real and vital opportunity to talk about women’s writing and women’s role in shaping and influencing our culture – both historically and in the present. I am so proud to be part of it and delighted that Watershed will be hosting it again this year.’
The festival is supported by Watershed, Foyles, The Bristol Palestinian Film Festival and The Bristol Festival of Ideas.