Category Archives: Manchester Writing News

MLF 2011…

13 days +68 events  = the Manchester Literature Festival 2011:

1 lit quiz x 1 literary pub walk = a celebration of the best writing talents

4 competitions + 3 awards   = acclaimed in the city, the UK and beyond

The new Manchester Literature Festival brochure has been unveiled and The Poplar Tree is getting a bit hot under its leaves in anticipation…

The festival is now in its 6th year and continues to blend home-grown talent with acclaimed authors, poets and journalists from across the world. The MLF’s ability to cross cultures, genres and social groups is what makes the festival so unique, and with 22 locations, Manchester becomes both muse and stage for poetry, novels, competitions, awards, tours and theatre.

The MLF began 18 years ago as a small poetry festival organised by Cathy Bolton (Festival Director) and Jon Atkin (Festival Coordinator), who both manage the city-wide event, and the festival is quickly gaining a national reputation for its quality and originality with its eclectic nature separating itself from other literary festivals such as the Bath or Hay.

Every year the MLF is undoubtedly different, but the one question that remains pursed on The Poplar Tree’s lips is; how can it top last year’s Seamus Heaney recital at the Whitworth Hall? Well, where to start… a third of the events showcase international talent so maybe Europe is a good place to start with Nordic crime writers K O Dahl, Thomas Enger and Yrsa Sigurdardottir, or you could be transported across the Atlantic with Cuba’s leading contemporary writer Victor Rodriguez Nunez or Daniel Mordzinski with ‘A Look into the Soul of Spanish American Literature’. You could then take a flight in the imagination with Canada’s award-winning writer Allan Stratton, or if you fancy warmer climes there’s the celebrated South-Asian writers Tahmima Anam and Dipika Rai. Continue reading


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Manchester Literature Festival 2011: Call for Volunteers

Last week the Manchester International Festival announced its lineup for the summer, but they’re not the only ones to get the festival bug this spring.

The Manchester Literature Festival has begun its search for volunteers to help out at events across the city in October. The Poplar Tree had a brilliant time as a volunteer at last year’s festival, and you can read about all the things it got up to by clicking on the image below. If it inspires you, visit the Manchester Lit Festival website where you can list your details and volunteer for this year’s events:

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Manchester Writing Competitions 2011

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The Guardian Book Awards 2010

A couple of weeks ago The Poplar Tree attended a meeting at the Deansgate branch of Waterstones to find out more about becoming a judge on the Guardian Book Awards panel. The newspaper asked for members of the public to volunteer as judges and pick out the best new author from a shortlist of 10 books. Around sixty people turned up to the Deansgate branch, which had seven judging places up for grabs. To qualify you had to submit an entry form which included a short review (200 words) of a novel published within the past 12 months. Unfortunately The Poplar Tree wasn’t successful. For anyone who likes Chuck Palahniuk’s work, here is the short review I submitted:

Pygmy is a thirteen-year-old Communist agent hailing from an unknown territory somewhere in Eastern Asia. His homeland is seeking vengeance on America for alleged acts of terrorism, and he is sent on a state mission, while masquerading as a foreign exchange student, to implement ‘Operation Havoc’.

Pygmy doesn’t have the meteoric twist of Palahniuk’s other works such as Fight Club, or the back-to-front ending of Survivor, instead the culmination of Operation Havoc is played out over 20 or so pages of increasingly loose pidgin English. As Palahnuik struggles to collect the strands of his novel together, many unanswered questions remain and,  although this may be typical of Palahnuik’s style, in this instance, the effect sadly distances rather than intrigues the reader. Continue reading

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The Manchester Literature Festival unveils its 2010 lineup…

You might have noticed some lyrical and mysterious posters appearing on inconspicuous walls around Manchester – The Poplar Tree has spotted a few in the Northern Quarter – it can now be revealed what they refer to (as if you haven’t already guessed by the above)…The Manchester Literature Festival (MLF) has unveiled its 2010 lineup and it’s bolder and bigger than ever before. Staged between the 14th – 25th October, the MLF promises to showcase unknown and established authors during events such as the Bugged Blog launch, to the ‘World of Moomin’ read by Sophia Jansson. And judging from its stylish new brochure, this year’s festival has something for everyone, young and old, poetry lovers or bookworms alike. Continue reading

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Elephant Spoon Thieving – The Poplar Tree debuts in print format (online)…but it’s a start

Last week The Poplar Tree submitted a short story to The Summer of Bugged a WordPress blog that asks readers to eavesdrop on conversations and write a piece of literature based upon what is heard. The official rules are that the eavesdropping must take place on July 1st, (for more specific details click on this link: For me, nothing of interest filtered through the air on this day, but I continued to listen out on my commute to work and when I went to the Whetherspoons near Manchester Town Hall for tea (the one with the nice toilets). I heard some interesting and bizarre things, the creme de la creme of which I whipped together in a short story entitled ‘Elephant Spoon Thieving.’ The nice people at Bugged Blog have published the story on their website – it’s great to see my name in ‘print’ again after three  years. So thanks Bugged Blog. ‘Elephant Spoon Thieving’ can be read here: it begins on page 2 of the PDF

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See the post under this one for web links to the competitions

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Manchester Writing Competitions 2010

As there doesn’t seem to be a central ‘hub’ where this sort of information can be found, The Poplar Tree has collected a few Manchester based writing competition details together which are being held over the coming months.  The Poplar Tree will update  this list on a regular basis as it follows various websites/blogs and independent magazines. Hopefully you will find the following interesting and inspiring: Continue reading

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Manchester Independent Book Market

The Manchester Independent Book Market is coming to the city this weekend, 25th-26th June at St Anne’s Square 12pm-5pm. There will be readings throughout the day by poets and authors plus stalls including book sellers and representatives from the world of publishing. The Poplar Tree took a stroll amongst the stalls last year and picked up details of writing competitions which it never found the time or inspiration to enter. It’s worth a visit if you’re looking to get published or meet some local literary talent, but if you’re looking for cheap second hand books (as was The Poplar Tree’s intention) you will be left disappointed because that’s not what it’s about.

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