Birmingham Literature Festival in Digbeth
The Birmingham Literature Festival returns to the city this month, with over 80 writers, performers, historians, illustrators and orators hosting nearly 50 interviews, performances, debates and workshops over 11 days.
This year’s literary treats cover an extraordinary range of subjects – from the creativity of concrete to what makes Birmingham a great speech-making city. Two of the events are taking place at Glen Howells at the bottom of Bradford Street this week:
The beauty of concrete is the inspiration for the two writers taking part in this special event, chaired by local architect and journalist, Joe Holyoak.
Barnabas Calder’s Raw Concrete is a celebration of concrete, and of the craft and engineering which powered the brutalist style across Britain in the 1960s. Honor Gavin’s postwar debut novel, Midland, was shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize in 2015, and sees the characters meet in the Central Library watching as a concrete ring-road is built around the city.
In this special event we hear from two writers who have reflected on communities planned from scratch, to fulfil a cultural mission or appease a capitalist conscience – from Saltaire to Poundbury, Port Sunlight to Bournville. They share the dreams and delusions of their founders, and consider the future of utopian settlements in this country.
Gillian Darley is a writer, broadcaster, historian and architectural campaigner. Her iconic Villages of Vision: A Study of Strange Utopias is published by Five Leaves Publications.
Jacqueline Yallop is a historian and novelist. Her Dreamstreets: A Journey Through Britain’s Village Utopias was published to great acclaim earlier this year.