Open Mic hosted by Talking Zebras

Join local writing group Talking Zebras for a welcoming Open Mic session in our Festival Hub.

Bring your poems and other short works to read out in front of a receptive audience or simply come along to listen and enjoy.

Thursday 31 March


Free (booking recommended due to venue restrictions)
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Age guidance: 16+

Location: Festival Hub


Spoken Word in the UK

Celebrated performance poets Rose Condo, Kate Fox and Sundra Lawrence discuss a new comprehensive anthology exploring the vast array of different styles and characteristics that make spoken word performance in the UK unique.

Spoken Word in the UK draws together a wide range of scholars, critics and practitioners to give a new perspective on performance poetics. It’s a crucial and ground-breaking companion for those teaching and studying spoken word, theatre, performance, literature and culture.

Rose Condo is an award-winning Canadian poet based in Salford. She studied Theatre & Drama at the University of Winnipeg and earned her MA in Theatre & Development Studies at the University of Leeds. Rose has been writing, performing and teaching for over 20 years, and she is the Mentoring Manager (North) for Arts Emergency. Her debut poetry collection After the Storm was published in 2020 and she has won awards for her projects and shows, which include, The Empathy Experiment, The Geography of Me and How to Starve an Artist.

Kate Fox is a stand-up poet, writer, broadcaster and speaker. She has been a performer on and contributor to many programmes on BBC TV and radio, and Poet in Residence for the Great North Run, Glastonbury Festival and R4’s Saturday Live. She has supported acts including Linton Kwesi Johnson, Hollie McNish, John Cooper Clarke and John Hegley and is a headline act in her own right. She has written two comedy series called The Price of Happiness for Radio 4 and her current touring show Where There’s Muck There’s Bras about notable northern women. Kate also a campaigner for the voices of Northerners, the working class, women and the neurodiverse to be heard.

Sundra Lawrence is a UK-based poet and writer of Tamil heritage. Her work visits themes of migration, religion and home. She is an experienced creative writing tutor and has performed her work across the UK and internationally. Sundra’s work has been broadcast on BBC TV and radio and is published in numerous anthologies. She is a Malika’s Poetry Kitchen Alumni and is the founder and director of Write Lines. In 2021, she won the Aryamati Poetry Prize.

Free (booking recommended)
Book tickets

Age guidance: 14+ (Under 16s should be accompanied by an adult)

Location: Festival Hub


We’re All in it Together – Grist anthology launch

Come along to the launch of the new Grist Books anthology, We’re All in it Together: Poems for a DisUnited Kingdom.

We’re All in it Together is a brilliant new poetry collection that explores the fault lines of national and regional identity and the rupture precipitated and exposed by Brexit.

What does it mean to be ‘British’ now? Is it possible for the Kingdom to become United? Is it even desirable?

Featuring work by Safia Khan, Ashley Hickson-Lovence, Joelle Taylor, Natalie Holborow, Rory Waterman, Ian Duhig, Jo Clement and many more.

Free (booking recommended)
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Location: Festival Hub, (next to Toyland) Piazza, Princess Alexandra Walk HD1 2RS

Age guidance: 16+


Stafflex Free Family Day

Our free event for families, with stalls, activities and interactive entertainment.

12 noon-12.30pm Magician Marvin presents Recycle Magic, a fun show that promotes positive environmental messages, from recycling and energy conservation to global warming and pollution. With jaw-dropping magic and help from puppet Billy the Bird!

1.15pm-1.45pm Bhangra demonstration with Hardeep Sahota, the West Yorkshire-based creator of World Bhangra Day and author of Bhangra: Mystics, Music and Migration.

Plus: performance poetry and storytelling with celebrated local peace poet and author (latest book: Read Aloud Proudly) Donavan Christopher, AKA Rappaman.

And: join award-winning children’s authors Salma Zaman and Thom Craigen for fun, interactive colouring activities that explore dream jobs and career aspirations, based on their I Can Do Anything Colouring Book – and enter an exciting colouring competition to win free books!

Free (no booking required)

Age guidance: all ages (under 16s should be accompanied by an adult)

Access Guide:

Sponsored by Stafflex

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Inclusive Sensory Station Session

A free afternoon of activities designed for children and young adults with additional needs, physical and mental disabilities (self-soothing calming areas available). Led by dance and drama teacher and SEN specialist Salma Zaman.

This session will use words, movement, dance and music to engage with participants and allow them to take part in teacher-led activities, as follows:

  1. Sitting or standing, listen to the Being Me poem being recited while engaging with balloons, leaves and bubbles
  2. Take part in a variety of different movement and dance to encourage mobilisation
  3. Have a go at making your own dance
  4. Have a go at making your own music with props and resources
  5. Perform your movement and dance with music
  6. Relax with a no hands massage.
  7. Self-soothing calming areas available throughout the workshop
  8. Self-regulating resources available

Salma Zaman is a trained teacher in dance and drama, an SEN specialist, choreographer and fitness instructor, and the founder and artistic director of Salma’s Bollywood Academy (SBA). Salma has been teaching for many years, providing professional educational school workshops for all ages, levels and abilities, and works closely with several specialist provisions. Salma’s Bollywood Academy was awarded the title ‘Best Dancing School’ for 2019 for its inclusivity.

Salma is also an award-winning author of four children’s books: Bollywood Princess; Help! I Can’t Dance Without My Bhangra Pants (centred on her own son, who has autism); Sally and her Super Snot; and Greedy Gertie, which features a cow who is a wheelchair user. With Thom Craigen, she has produced an inspirational and representational activity book, I Can Do Anything Colouring Book, created to celebrate girls of different South Asian heritages and encourage them to consider a wide range of professions.

With a colleague Nisha Lall, Salma has also produced videos and downloadable activity packs for SEND families for the My Family Creates project, commissioned by the Huddersfield Literature Festival and available on the Festival website.

Free (booking recommended)
Book tickets

Location: Festival Hub

All ages (under 16s and vulnerable adults should be accompanied by a parent or carer)