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Marlborough literary festival injects a host of new youthful delights

As well as a wealth of established writers, this year’s Marlborough Literary Festival will be a showcase for young authors, international talent and other varied cultures.

It is all part of the way the event, now in its second year, is evolving, writes Ben Budd.

Starting off with Lemn Sissay, champion of black poetry, whose very name is lyrical and whose poems have been described as “songs of the street”. He will bring his unique brand of verse to open the festival at Marlborough College on Thursday September 22.Lemn’s public art poems are emblazoned on buildings, in sculpture and on streets in London and Manchester. Some have even become landmarks.  

And as the first poet commissioned to write for the 2012 London Olympics, his poem Spark Catchers will be etched into a structure in the Olympic Park.

Lemn, who received an MBE from the Queen for his service to literature, presents for BBC Radio Four and the World Service and his artwork ‘What If’ was exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts last year.  

Nikesh Shukla, who is appearing at The Merchant’s House on Saturday September 24, is a young London poet exploring concepts of Britishness and non-Britshness. He also writes about coming of age.

His Coconut Unlimited was shortlisted for the Costa First Book Award in 2010 and he is the resident poet on the BBC Asian network.Now, in the world of youthful performances – and their enthusiastic parents of course -- the Litfest is delighted to welcome Lauren Child back to Marlborough, to talk about the creation of her characters and illustrations.

The creator of Charlie & Lola, Clarice Bean and now Ruby Redfort, Lauren grew up in Marlborough and went to school at both St. John’s and Marlborough College. Her stories contain some of today’s best loved and most successful children’s fictional characters and her books sell millions of copies across the world.
Charlie and Lola is a BAFTA-awarded TV show and global sensation. Lauren Child will be at The Theatre on The Hill, St. John’s School on Saturday 24 September.

And if parents ever worry that your child isn‘t a reader, there is still hope for them, thanks to Ivan Brett. He will be talking about his first book, Casper Candlewicks in Death by Pigeon. This is a hilariously funny debut novel by a young talent who has been tipped as a major new voice in young comic fiction. Ivan is also appearing at St. John’s on Saturday 24 September.

 For a more adult and less squeamish audience, there will also be Richard T Kelly, of whom it has been said “he drags the gothic novel kicking and screaming into the new century”. Any fans of Frankenstein or even Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga shouldn’t miss his talk on Gothic fiction at the Marlborough town hall on September 24.

This is only a smattering of what‘s on offer at the 2011 LitFest. More children’s writing will be on offer, street poetry, international authors, debut novels and workshops for the young. Of course the showcase on youth is only a part of the festival.

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