We might still find our daily lives restricted by the ongoing pandemic but that doesn’t stop the UK literature scene from bringing you the freshest, most enriching events, talks, podcasts and interactive experiences this summer!

One of the merits of moving things online is that we can now access events and resources that might otherwise have been out of reach. From free online literary festivals to 24-hour digital podcasts and book-inspired playlists, NCW has hand-picked ten of our favourite events and things to do from literature organisations across the country that we think will bring you joy and give you a taste of the writerly world all from the comfort of your own home.


Say Your Peace: Three Recipes for Self Care

In May 2020, Spread the Word commissioned Young People’s Laureate for London Theresa Lola, and former Laureates Caleb Femi and Momtaza Mehri, to create new poems that explore the impact lockdown has made on us, as part of the BBC Arts ‘Culture in Quarantine’ initiative.

In the film-poem, alongside filmmakers Ndrika Anyika and Jolade Olusanya, they provide a collaborative perspective on what offers them solace amid the disruption and isolation experienced during the pandemic. Say Your Peace is available to view on BBC iPlayer. Watch it here

Image: Ndrika Anyika and Jolade Olusanya, BBC iPlayer

Black and white stills from a video entitled 'A Delicate SIght'A Delicate Sight

Place darkness at the centre of your perception and explore how your senses, thoughts and emotions are heightened with this guided creative experience.Using darkness, closed books, unseen pictures and partially heard songs, A Delicate Sight allows you to explore the frontiers of your imagination and create your own unique expression of art.

The three-step interactive experience premiered in May at City of Literature 2020, presented by the National Centre for Writing and Norfolk & Norwich Festival, and is entirely free to access. Find out more

National Theatre of Scotland: Makar 2 Makar

Created and curated by multi-award-winning writer, Scots Makar, and International Literature Showcase curator, Jackie Kay, Makar 2 Makar showcases a line-up of established literary talent and emerging voices from Scotland and around the world. Each event will feature one or two ‘makars’ paired with a singer who will finish each show with a song. Every week, Jackie Kay will introduce the makar of the week, who will in turn announce who the next one will be. You can watch the premiere below.

The free events will be streamed on National Theatre of Scotland’s You Tube and Facebook channels every Thursday at 7pm for 16 weeks, each show lasting approximately 40 minutes. Find out more

UEA Literary Festival Archive

Featuring interviews with world-class authors like Margaret Atwood, Marlon James, Elif Shafak, George Saunders, Elizabeth Strout, Caryl Phillips, Jesmyn Ward and more, the archive offers a collection of more than 450 audio and video recordings of literary figures in conversation before audiences at the University of East Anglia’s Literary Festival (now UEA Live).

You can now access the full archive for free! Find out more

International Booker Prizes: shortlist playlist

Ever wanted to get completely lost in the world of a book from home? Music streaming service Deezer and International Booker Prize have made that happen. They’ve created enchanting playlists for the 2020 shortlist. The ‘Sounds of…’ series matches the shortlisted books with complementary music. This is one for the bibliophiles and music lovers alike! Listen now

Edinburgh International Book Festival Online

From Saturday 15- Monday 31 August, enjoy literature events for adults and children for free! Through the magic of technology, the world-renowned Edinburgh Book Festival will be crossing continents and time zones to stream events from more than 30 countries straight into your home.

What’s more, you’ll be able chat with fellow Festival goers via digital chatrooms and take part in Q&A sessions, and at selected events, you will be able to meet the author and get your books signed. All events are free and available to watch on their website. Find out more

Peepal Tree Press Blog

Established in 1986, Peepal Tree Press is the world’s leading publisher of Caribbean and Black British writing. Head to their blog page to enjoy regular content celebrating the very best of international writing from the Caribbean, its diasporas and the UK. From news, events and book reviews to guest blogger articles and the latest episodes of the New Caribbean Voices Podcast, the Peepal Tree Press Blog is a treasure trove of free material for avid readers. Find out more

Don’t forget to have a browse through the online bookshop while your there! The team have even hand-curated book collections to suit every reader’s appetite.

Memoir Monday

Memoir Monday is a weekly newsletter and quarterly reading series co-curated by CatapultGrantaGuernicaNarrativelyThe Rumpus, and Literary Hub. Each week, enjoy the editors’ hand-pick of their favourite new personal essays and memoir pieces in the newsletter along with details about live upcoming readings. Find out more

The next Memoir Monday reading will take place at 8pm EST on Monday 17 August. Featuring Billy-Ray Belcourt, Rose Andersen, Damon Young, and Alisson Wood. Register here

Image: Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Poets on couches

In this series from The Paris Review, poets read and discuss the poems getting them through these strange times. These readings bring intimacy into our spaces of isolation, both through the affinity of poetry and through the warmth of being able to speak to each other across the distances.

RadioMoLI

Broadcasting from the Museum of Literature Ireland in Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, RadioMoLI presents new commissioned writing, discussion, interviews, radio plays, documentary and more.

The 24-hour digital radio station launched in 2019 and celebrates the very best of Irish literature, from national treasures to emerging writers and artists. Listen here

Image: Museum of Literature Ireland

Coming soon…

Noirwich Crime Writing Festival 2020

10-13 September

East Anglia’s largest crime writing festival returns in September in a new digital format with some of the most exciting names in the genre including headliner Attica Locke, an award-winning author and screenwriter of the hit Netflix show, Little Fires

Everywhere. Through author discussions, creative writing workshops and newly commissioned writing, Noirwich 2020 will investigate the ways in which crime writing can help us make sense of today’s world. Download Noirwich 2020 guide here

All events are free to enjoy – booking is required. Workshops are £35 and will take place on Zoom (full instructions are sent in advance). Book now


Do you know about a great event coming up this summer? Let us know and we’ll add it to the list. Contact us at info@nationalcentreforwriting.org.uk and use ‘NCW literature events guide 2020’ as your subject header. Thanks!

Article image: Tuur Tisseghem from Pexels