Writing on the Wall, Liverpool’s longest running writing & literary organisation, announce our 20th annual festival programme: WoWFEST 2019 – Where Are We Now? ft. Jo Brand, Peter Tatchell, Ben Okri, Kit De Waal, Jennifer Makumbi, Dina Nayeri, Cheryl Martin,  Tony Platt, Phil Scraton, Lynsey Hanley, Laura Waddell, Bahriye Kemal, Paul Scraton, Gary Budden Kerry Hudson, Dave Ward, James Meek, Ros Wynne Jones, Costas Lapavitsas, Anita Sethi and Jess Green.

Change is in the air.  All that is solid, like the icecaps, is melting into air. Things fall apart – can the centre hold? The rich are getting richer, but otherwise uncertainty is the order of the day; Brexit, climate change, class, feminism, gender, race, populism, fake news, digital surveillance, and more, much more, are changing and challenging all our old conceptions. The stage is now set at WoWFEST 19 to seek answers to the question ‘Where Are We Now?’

Writing on the Wall Co-Director Madeline Heneghan, says:Writing on the Wall’s 2019 festival theme ‘Where Are we Now?’ couldn’t be more relevant given the shambles of this week’s Brexit vote, but this question applies to so many more issues. Our programme is designed to give audiences a space for discussion, debate, new ideas, and answers to the questions that people across the nation are asking. We have a fabulous line-up of writers and artists, and we are proud to deliver such a high-quality line up for Liverpool during our 20th annual festival.’


PROGRAMME HIGHIGHTS:

Born Lippy: Jo Brand in Conversation
Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman and sometimes it’s time to be a hard woman.
Comedy’s finest Jo Brand gets gobby, as she brings Born Lippy, her straight-talking, darkly funny guide to life to WoWFEST ‘19. Join her in conversation with Emmerdale Brookside, Doctors and Waterloo Road actress, Eithne Browne as she discusses how to do female.
Ticket Prices £23.5/£17.50 (Including Advance book order) £16/£10. 14th May. 19:30. Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Hope Street, Liverpool L1 9BP.
Tickets: https://bit.ly/2u3hnFt


Queer Are We Now?: Peter Tatchell, Keynote Speech
The Stonewall rebellion sparked the momentous gay liberation movement, one of the most important events in LGBTQIA+ history. 50 years on – as Trump turns the clock back and Chechnya systematically detains and tortures its supposed ‘non-existent’ LGBTQIA+ citizens, WoWFest19 asks Queer are we now? with a unique keynote Speech from human rights activist Peter Tatchell.
£12/£6. 15th May. 19:30. LEAF, 65-67 Bold Street, Liverpool, L1 4EZ.
Tickets: https://bit.ly/2EWecVf


An Evening with Booker Prize Winner Ben Okri
Booker Prize-winning Nigerian writer, Ben Okri discusses his contribution to literature and his latest novel, The Freedom Artist; an impassioned plea for justice and a penetrating examination of how freedom is threatened in a post-truth society. In a world uncomfortably like our own, a young woman called Amalantis is arrested for asking a question. Her question is this: Who is the Prisoner?
£12/£6. 22nd May. 18:30. The Bluecoat, 8 School Ln, Liverpool L1 3BX.
Tickets: https://bit.ly/2VVnmIn


A Self-Help Guide to Being in Love with Jeremy Corbyn
Following the success of her first show, Burning Books, which received five-star reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe and on its national tour in 2015, Jess returns with a rousing, lyrical and humorous look at modern politics; a show which received critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe and saw Jess win the BBC Poetry Slam, which led her to having a cup of tea with the man himself!
£15/£10. 24th & 25th May. 19:30. Unity Theatre, 1 Hope Pl, Liverpool, L1 9BG.
Tickets: https://bit.ly/2VZVkvB


Citizens of Nowhere with Jennifer Makumbi and Dina Nayeri
How can refugees and migrants be heard in such a hostile environment; What happens after you are displaced; What does it mean to truly belong; Does the story of a refugee finish when asylum is won? Award winning authors Jennifer Makumbi and Dina Nayeri discuss migration and refuge, providing insights into resettlement, identity and community.
£8/£5. 23rd May. 18:30. The Bluecoat, School Ln, Liverpool L1 3BX.
Tickets: https://bit.ly/2UxEi7v


‘Crime’, Punishment & The Politics of Fear
Tony Platt & Phil Scraton In Conversation
Renowned criminologists and sociologists Tony Platt (University of California) and Phil Scraton (The Violence of Incarceration & The Hillsborough Report) discuss the social and political consequences of criminalisation, particularly mass incarceration, in a climate of fear and the responsibilities of researcher-activists to prisoners, their families, their communities and to the wider public.
£12/£6. 20th May. 18:30pm. The Bluecoat, 8 School Ln, Liverpool, L1 3BX.
Tickets: https://bit.ly/2XU4R9e


Inside Pale Eyes: A Dream Noir Book Launch
Writer Dave Ward reads from his new publication Inside Pales Eyes (Hawkwood Books, 2019), a unique collection of flash fiction and observations of urban life accompanied by drawings from Bryan Biggs.
“A fractured narrative of grey twilight where half-glimpsed figures flicker through a deserted city-scape. Connection is everything, but nobody connects.”
Free, booking required. 7pm. Wednesday 29th May. The Bluecoat, 8 School Ln, Liverpool, L1 3BX.
Tickets: https://bit.ly/2EXHxi1


Divided Cities with Bahriye Kemal, Paul Scraton and Gary Budden
If you know where to look, urban landscapes can inspire journeys through the melting pots of ideas, cultures and histories built into its concrete. Writers Bahriye Kemal, Paul Scraton and Gary Budden share vivid portraits of their cities, from militarised borders to remembering divided pasts and places more imagined than real.
£6/£3. 7pm. 81 Renshaw, 81 Renshaw Street, Liverpool, L1 2SJ.
Tickets:  https://bit.ly/2J9H9lO


Common People – Class in the Margins in Writing and Publishing
Kit de Waal, Lynsey Hanley and Laura Waddell
Almost half of all authors, writers and translators in the UK come from professional, middle-class backgrounds, compared with just ten per cent of those from a working-class background. So where are the working-class writers? The answer is right here. This exciting event brings together writers from two breakthrough anthologies, Common People (Unbound) and Know Your Place (Dead Ink).
£6/£3. 7pm. Thursday 2nd May. Toxteth Library, Windsor Street, Liverpool, L8 1XF.
Tickets: https://bit.ly/2J9bnFz      


The B-Word: Where Are We Now?
James Meek, Ros Wynne Jones, Costas Lapavitsas and Anita Sethi
The B-word has haunted global headlines since June 2016 with the most unprecedented political move in modern history and it’s been swings and roundabouts ever since. Join writer James Meek, Daily Mirror Lead Feature Writer Ros Wynne-Jones, author Costas Lapavitsas and Guardian Journalist Anita Sethi to discuss what happens now.
£8/£4. 7pm. Thursday 16th May. LEAF, 65-67 Bold St, Liverpool, L1 4EZ.
Tickets: https://bit.ly/2XZfd7w         

Further festival announcements coming soon!