Thursday, 3 June 2010

The Stokey LitFest Bar


So my wife decides to organise a literary festival, and in the main venue we can run our own bar, and I’m a beer writer… can you see where this is going?

The first ever Stokey LitFest has been organized with no start-up capital and only a tiny, cursory bit of funding.  In the worst-case scenario (which, thankfully, we’ve already left behind) we could have lost thousands on this.

So the fact that we’ve got our own bar is the difference between us making a massive loss and more or less breaking even.  So it’s absolutely wonderful that our drinks sponsors have been so kind to us.  Everyone I approached has donated stock, so I now hereby unveil Pete’s Litfest Bar!

Official LitFest gorgeous gin: Hendricks

Hendricks is a small batch-produced gin, infused with rose petals and cucumber, and served with a cucumber garnish rather than lime.  The Litfest G&T and the LitFest Gimlet will be our signature cocktails: fresh, cool and sophisticated, just like you wonderful people, the LitFest crowd.

Official LitFest local dark, malty ale: Redemption Urban Dusk

The Redemption Brewery opened in Tottenham, just up the road, in January this year.  Urban Dusk is a triumph: Chocolatey, malty, smooth and sensuous, it’s already turning heads at beer festivals around the capital.    

Official LitFest multi-award-winning, citrusy pale ale: Thornbridge Kipling

Longtime friends of the Stokey LitFest family, Thornbdrige have given us Kipling: a spritzy, refreshing yet flavoursome pale ale, brewed with Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand for an aroma any fan of Kiwi sauvignon blanc will love, fresh from being named Champion beer at last week’s Cambridge beer festival.

Official LitFest ultra-hip wheat beer: Otley O-Garden

Welsh brewer Otley believe real ale should have a much wider audience than it does, but for some people has an image that holds it back.  So their very cool brand that stands out wherever it goes.  O-Garden is – surprise – a wheat beer that bears a passing resemblance to a certain Belgian brand - a quenching wheat beer spiced with roasted orange peel, coriander and cloves.

Official LitFest quality imported Czech lager: Budweiser Budvar

Not to be confused with the American megabrand, this classic lager is imported direct from its home in Bohemia.  It does everything you want a lager to do with its crisp, refreshing bite, but in addition it has a wonderful grassy aroma, and hints of citrus and toast on the palate.

Official LitFest wonderfully flavourful Scottish redefinition of lager: Harviestoun Schiehallion

This lager from a small craft brewery in Scotland is so lovely that ale snobs who hate lager pretend it’s an ale so they can justify drinking it.  Crisp, dry and airy with a smooth, soft body and a beautifully fresh, grapefruity taste.

Official LitFest feelgood fruity cider drink of the summer: Koppaberg

Some people think cider should taste of apples.  Swedish cider maker Koppaberg like to break the rules.  It looks like being a hot weekend, so their Pear, Elderflower and Lime and Mixed fruit varieties should go down a treat!  

And finally… Offical LitFest Snack: Homemade sausage rolls from the Alma at Newington Green!

The Alma’s a lovely gastropub and their homemade organic pork and fresh thyme rolls are to die for.

We’ll also be stocking red, white and rosé wine, vodka and a range of soft drinks.  Anyone who makes or sells any of these who wants to give us some next year, please get in touch! 

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Calling all photographers

If you are the sort of person who likes to snap away with your camera as your wander round  the festival,  we'd love for you to share your best shots with us on our Litfest flickr photogroup. We've already put up some of the things we saw while we were out posting festival fliers and organising venues. Even if you don't take any photos we will be posting more pictures throughout the festival so come along and have a look

Feeling Peckish: where to eat at the Litfest.

Amongst the many great things about Stokey is its excellent farmers market held weekly in the grounds of William Patten Primary school every Saturday. This Saturday morning Elisa Benyon will be doing a seasonal cookery demo as part of festival at the farmers market.
 After Elisa has signed copies of her new book the “The Vicar’s Wife cook book” she will popping round the corner to the White Hart Pub to take part in our Eat Your Words: event with food and drink writers Niki Segnit, Pete Brown and Ian Kelly who will be discussing the tricky task of describing flavours in their work!

We hope these and all our events at the festival will provide food for thought but you may also need some sustenance of a more literal form. Well N16 is blessed with some of the widest range and highest quality eating places in London. The variety is so great it would be harsh to single out individual places (and everyone has their own favourites) but starting at the Assembly Halls at the eastern end of Church street you’ll find excellent places for coffee and cakes, followed by vegetarian specialities, pizza and excellent pasta. Church Street has a number of really good bakers if you want to have a picnic in Clissold Park (which also has places for tea and lollies!). Stokey is also much blessed with excellent international food particular good are the Indian, Bangladesh, Mexican and Thai places closer to the High Street end of Church Street. The food doesn’t end there; the High Street has a string of Turkish bakers who do wonderful things with spinach and pastry as well as having some excellent “Ocakbasi” char grill restaurants (one with a famous speciality!).

All this and we haven’t mentioned the great Chinese, sushi, noodles and the Chip shops! Oh and you can pick up some beigels (some say bagels) anytime or day NIGHT from the end of the high street.

Please ask one of our local festival volunteers for their own recommendations of places to go.

Great Local Coverage

Excellent full page article in this weeks Stoke Newington Gazette about the Literary festival. Click on the image to read a bigger version. Book tickets for Phill Jupitus' music event here

Friday, 28 May 2010

Songs for Book Lovers

Although this is a literary festival we couldn't stop music seeping into things. On Saturday 5th, we have Edwyn Collins providing some songs for Grace Maxwell's reading of her book, and on Sunday 6th, Phill Jupitus & friends will be playing tunes and discussing music writing in general.

While we are discussing the word/music interface, it's been a matter of some discussion whether it's best to read (or indeed write) listening to music. Some people enjoy nothing more than to read a book in church-like silence. For others a book, some tunes and perhaps some liquid refreshment are a perfect combination.

Anyway to celebrate music for and by book lovers here's our stab at a literary spotify playlist . Please add you own ideas but a) make sure they are good tunes and not ones with "book" in the title b) and don't dump entire artist/albums onto the list just because you like them...!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Casanova, the legendary lover... of food and drink

Casanova – the 18th century Nigel Slater?
Did you know that as well as being a famous womaniser and librarian, Giacomo Casanova was a prolific food writer?
Author Ian Kelly has dedicated a whole chapter of his award-winning biography of Casanova to the famous Italian’s career as a food writer, and will be talking about Casanova the gastronome at our Eat Your Words event on Saturday 5th at 2pm.
Ian is one of those people who seems to do the things he does very well. Along with his career as an award-winning biographer – he has also published acclaimed books on the world’s first celebrity chef, Anton Careme, and the famous dandy Beau Brummell – he is an award-winning actor, appearing in The Pitmen Painters at the National Theatre and as Hermione’s father in the Harry Potter films.
Come and meet Ian, along with Niki Segnit, Pete Brown and Elisa Beynon at The White Hart where they will discuss the challenge food and drink writers have in talking about flavour and taste. With only five different tastes on the tongue, how do you pin flavour to the page and bring it to life?
For tickets, click here, and for more about Ian Kelly click here.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Itchy fingers?

Great feedback coming in on our Creative Writing Workshops on Saturday 5th.
Janet Behan, Brendan’s niece, is doing a terrific session from 11am – 12.30pm. She wrote the definitive play about the brilliant but flawed playwright called Brendan – at the Chelsea. Thought we’d take a quick peek at her reviews. Blimey! Writers would kill for these! Even the notoriously snotty Variety went overboard.
Literary uber-agent Juliet Pickering is on from 3pm – 4.30pm. Bit of competition here for who gets to stick their exercise book in her handbag first. This is a former Waterstone’s fiction buyer who is now an Associate with AP Watt, the oldest agency in the world.
They’ve got a Nobel Prize Winner, Orange, Costa and Whitbread winners. Who will be next? Me Juliet…Meeeeeee!
And darling Richard, who writes the best emails ever. If his 1pm – 2.30pm session on how to write a bestseller is half as funny…. A potent mixture of info, he’s promised handouts – posh! and stand up. Richard’s delivery has been honed with the likes of Matt Lucas. And Tony Parsons reckons his sharp, incisive novels are the best of the new novelists around.
Tickets are a ridiculously affordable £8 per session (£7 concessions) - could be the best under-a-tenner you've ever invested...

Tales from the Front Line

As an award-winning investigative journalist, Zaiba Malik has been imprisoned and interrogated in Bangladesh, exposed mass murder by police in Thailand and investigated honour killings among the Pakistani community in Britain. She's appeared in The Guardian and Independent and worked on some of the BBC and Channel 4's most acclaimed radio and TV documentaries, including 'Sleepers: Undercover with the Racists', 'Dispatches: Trouble at the Mosque' and 'Killing for Honour'.
We’re thrilled that Zaiba is joining us in somewhat different circumstances at The Drop at The Three Crowns to take part in the Stoke Newington Literary Festival.
Known for being an expert on British Muslim culture, Zaiba reads from and discusses her enchanting memoir We Are A Muslim, Please. Growing up in Bradford in the 1970s and 1980s certainly had its moments – staying up all night during Ramadan with her father; watching mad Mr Aziz searching for his goat during Eid; dancing along to Top of the Pops (so long as no-one’s watching). And, of course, there’s her mother – whether she’s writing another ingratiating letter to the Queen or repeatedly referring to Tom Jones as ‘Thumb Jone’.
But Zaiba’s story is also one of anxiety and seemingly irreconcilable opposites. Growing up she is constantly torn between two identities: ‘British’ and ‘Muslim’. Alienated at school and confused at home, the racism she encounters as a child mirrors the horrors she experiences at the hands of Bangladeshi interrogators 
as a journalist years later.

Five years after the 7/7 attacks galvanized debates about Muslim-British identity, We Are A Muslim, Please is a stirring and enchanting memoir. We see, through Zaiba’s childhood eyes, the poignancy of growing up in a world whose prejudices, contradictions and ambiguities are at once distressing and utterly captivating.

Zaiba will read at The Drop at The Three Crowns on Sunday 6th June at 3pm.
Tickets are £4 (£3 concessions) and are available HERE, as well as at Stoke Newington Bookshop.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Guest blog entry: Anna Goodall, Pen Pusher magazine

When I met Liz, the organiser of Stoke Newington Literary Festival, for a coffee several months ago to discuss the possibility of a PP event, we ended up having a good old chinwag about everyone we knew in common. But we did manage to talk a bit of business and decided that the emphasis of the event should be on the best new writing and great literary performers… and I think the evening promises to deliver just that.
Having Miguel Syjuco and Tash Aw ‘in conversation’ is tremendously exciting, not just because it brings two amazingly talented authors together for a chat in the heart of N16, but also because both writers have their roots in Southeast Asia – Miguel in the Philippines, Tash in Malaysia. Whilst they live in the west, their fiction is concerned with the culture, myths and unsettled history of their nations. Miguel’s debut novel, Ilustrado, is published by Picador on the day of the event (it won the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2008 when it was still in manuscript form), and Tash, a Whitbread First Novel award-winner amongst other honours, will be reading from his second novel, Map of the Invisible World.
Then after a short break, the brilliant Dockers MC will be doing a turn, as will poets Tim Wells and Melissa Mann, and author (and former model) Gavin James Bower, and we’ll be selling copies of the latest issue, PP15, featuring Diana Athill, Helen Oyeyemi, Shrabani Basu, Ross Sutherland, John Osborne, & Naomie Harris.
Tickets on sale HERE.
Meanwhile, I’m currently working on the new issue. We’ve already got some fantastic contributors lined up, so keep your eyes peeled for updates later in the summer. And unbelievably, it’s still only £10 to subscribe to PP for a year. So if you haven’t done it yet, treat yourself to the very best new writing, poetry and literary interviews, and sign up here:
& you can follow us on Twitter:
Hope to see you at the festival!

Anna Goodall
Editor of Pen Pusher Magazine

Hello everybody!

The countdown has started. With just 11 days to go to the launch of the first ever Stoke Newington Literary Festival, we'll be bringing you exclusive interviews, event previews and ideas on how to make the best of the festival weekend.

To join our mailing list for last-minute ideas, offers and promotions, including chances to win 2 VIP all-access tickets for the weekend, visit our website or email

We've got most areas covered: we've got poetry, prose, philosophy and politics; we've got ghost stories and ghoulish tales for kids round Abney Park; we've got beer, food, pubs and cookery demos; we've got feminism, multi-culturalism and psychogeography. We've got Murder in the Town Hall, ghosts in the Airport (check out the website..) and Music Mayhem in the village hall. We've even got The Adventures of Monsieur Robinet...

So bookmark us, send the link to your friends, follow us on Twitter @StokeyLitFest, join the Facebook page and generally become part of the gang.

See you on 4th-6th June!