Writing on the Wall Festival returns with events from Jerry Dammers, Laura Snapes, Alexei Sayle, Pink Kink and more

Pink Kink

Pink Kink

With this year’s science fiction theme, WoW Festival has shifted planets and aligned some star names for your delectation, with events ranging far and wide on the arts spectrum, Getintothis Jamie Carragher has the details.

Film & Media

Director Ken Loach may pride his work on its realism but the heights of his recently halted cinematic career were nothing short of stratospheric. Loach is in Liverpool to talk about representation and diversity on television alongside Labour peer Lord Puttnam, Grange Hill and Brookside creator Phil Redmond CBE, Hansard chair Ruth Fox and Cat Lewis of Nine Lives Media.This panel discussion at the Black-E (tonight at 7pm) is part of Puttnam‘s nationwide inquiry into the Future of Television and it’s a chance for writers, producers and members of the public to chime in on how far media in Britain is representative of the whole country.

For those who have been following Getintothis‘ own Jake Marley column about sexism in the music industry, You Can’t Be What You Can’t See: Miss-representation in the Music Industry will be essential viewing at the Everyman Bistro (May 19, 8pm). Laura Snapes, culture writer and contributing editor for Pitchfork, will be leading a discussion about how musical media misogyny stifles current and future generations of music journalists. Joined by Sarah Lay (Louder than War), Amy Roberts (Clarissa Explains Fuck All), Bethany Garrett (Bido Lito!) and Lorna Gray (Fierce Babe Network), expect Snapes and company to open a can of patriarchal worms, pour them on the floor and dissect them with steely precision. Add to that a live gig from Pink Kink and how about we just see you there?

As ever, WoW has its finger on the cultural pulse, holding a panel discussion at Studio 2 (May 11), led by award winning writers Juno Dawson, Abigail Tarttlein and RuPaul’s Drag Race Ambassador and local drag star The Viviene, on gender identity in the 21st century. This is bound to be a thought provoking and inspiring event.

Master of radio production and technology, Dirk Maggs, wrote and directed the 2003-5 radio version of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. He has an established career with BBC Radio 4 of creating stories with sound. Maggs will be at Liverpool Central Library (May 17) to host a discussion on his career and practices. One for all you tech heads!

Spoken Word

WoWFest has always promoted the best of spoken word poetry and this year is no different. Don’t miss the dazzling combination of Linton Kwesi Johnson and Holly McNish, who are performing at the Black-E (May 7, 8pm). Johnson, Dub poetry pioneer and Golden PEN award winner, is a master of the form while McNish is its rising star. Her stellar performance at the Liverpool Acoustic Festival last month left the crowd demanding an encore and there’s no reason why this visit to Liverpool shouldn’t be just as fruitful.

Don’t be surprised if those two get you hooked on verse aloud. So, here’s a second hit: Stand up and Spit! at Leaf (May 19, 7:30pm). Ranting poetry for the people, look out for the likes of Selena Godden and Ginger John. They’ll be joined by Liverpool’s own Blue Saint, a WoW young writer fresh from supporting Saul Williams. Want to make your own mark in the world of spoken word? Get down to the Dead Good Poet’s Society sci-fi night at Blackburne House and show off your own poetic wares.


If it’s belly laughs you’re looking for then WoWFest has comedic treats to sate that appetite. There’s Isy Suttie of Peep Show fame talking about her memoir The Actual One at the Philharmonic Music Room (May 15, 2pm), followed by Francecsca Martinez in the same venue a few days later (May 20, 8pm). Martinez will be performing What the **** is Normal?, a stand-up show which challenges the status quo of social expectation and squeezes it for laughs.

Ribs will be tickled and brains engaged. And if that’s not enough (and it should be you greedy, greedy people) then there’s also Alexei Sayle, bona fide legend of Liverpool comedy. Sayle will be talking about the latest volume of his memoirs, Thatcher Stole My Trousers, with accomplished writer and journalist Brian Reade. That one’s at Leaf (May 14, 8pm).


Future/Journeys will host a day long event of Afrofuturist art and music at District 61. Inspired by the likes of George Clinton, Octavia Butter and Janelle Monae, WoW have curated a supersonic cultural exploration with interactive art, technology and discussions. If that’s not enough to make you see stars, from 8pm there will be an after party featuring a DJ set from none other than Jerry Dammer of The Specials who will be delving into his expansive collection of ska, punk, dub and plethora of afrofuturist inspired tunes.

One of the most highly-anticipated guests of the festival, Irish novelist Kevin Barry is in town to talk about his award-winning Beatlebone. A genre-busting novel that sees John Lennon buying an island off the West Coast of Ireland in 1967, Beatlebone has been lapped up by readers and critics alike. Something of a homecoming for Barry, he’ll be in good company thanks to The Farm‘s Peter Hooton, who, as Chairman of the Beatles Legacy Group, will be quizzing Barry about his fabulist concoction. No doubt the pair will be separating truths from untruths when they sit down at The Casa (May 13, 7pm). What’s indisputable, however, is that Barry’s one the best writers around and that his work deserves celebration.

Pulp Idol

From literary big guns to up-and-coming starlets, this year marks the tenth anniversary of Writing on the Wall‘s fiction competition, Pulp Idol. Relatively young in comparison to other new fiction contests, what it lacks in age, Pulp Idol makes up for in picking power. On the back of Pulp Idol involvement, a spate of previous winners and finalists have gone on to secure representation and publish their novels, most notably James Rice, whose YA novel, Alice and the Fly achieved rave reviews on its release last year. Catch the tenth Pulp Idol final at Leaf (May 27, 7pm) as the next generation take the first steps of their writing careers.

Just as the titbits buried in a Blue Peter time capsule can’t possibly represent western civilization to aliens, this article also has its limitations. There are loads more events to check out throughout this month, so do have a look yourself and catch as many WoW events as you can!