Literary festival returns to Stoke Newington for fifth year with top line-up

Ray Davies

Ray Davies - Credit: Archant

Music royalty and a celebrity cat are some of headline acts making an appearance at one of the London’s top literary festivals.

Linton Kwesi Johnson

Linton Kwesi Johnson - Credit: Archant

Former lead singer of rock band The Kinks’ Ray Davies; Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore; punk act The Slits guitarist Viv Albertine; and dub poet Kwesi Linton Kwesi Johnson will all grace the Stoke Newington Literary Festival, which is set to return to the leafy suburb of Hackney from June 6 to 8.

Davies will talk about his new book Americana, Moore and Albertine will be in conversation while Johnson will perform his iconic dub verse - a form of performance poetry of West Indian origin.

They will also be joined by Mog the Cat, the much-loved illustrated children’s character who was created by author Judith Kerr.

It is the fifth time the annual fixture in Hackney arts calendar will take place and it is the most eclectic programme to date, with talks ranging from maths, football, food, feminism, dissent, psychology and food.

Best-selling Chocolat author Joanne Harris and award-winning Scottish novelist and poet AL Kennedy will also attend.

The festival was originally set up to pay homage to some of the radicals and dissenters who lived in the village, which was located outside London more than 300 years ago. These include household names such as writers Joseph conrad Daniel Defoe and Edgar Allan Poe and political activist Paul Foot.

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Another aim was to set up literacy programmes in the borough.

Founder Liz Vater said: “We set the festival up to help fund literacy initiatives within Hackney. Last year we ran storytelling workshops with the Turkish and Kurdish community and funded places for Stoke Newington kids to attend a residential creative writing course at Arvon.

“This year we hope to extend our reach and provide even more support to help adults and kids engage with and improve access to literacy.”

The festival will showcase the work of charity Arts Emergency, based in Bradbury Street, Stoke Newington, which works across the UK to encourage and support working class and low-income kids into arts degrees.

In homage to the area’s radical roots, the festival will also examine the polarities of growing wealth and increasing poverty in Hackney with a pamphlet examining what community means. Commissioned by magazine New Humanist, local residents such as Thurston Moore and Ellie Mae O’Hagan will write about the concept of community. Festival goers will also be able to contribute their thoughts on a website and on postcards over the weekend.

n. Tickets can be purchased from Stoke Newington Bookshop and Stoke Newington Library which are both located on Stoke Newington High Street. For more information visit Stoke Newington Library.