Audio Archive: Durham Book Festival

Podcasts from the Durham Book Festival, showcasing some of the highlights of our unmissable annual programmes, including our Writing Durham series from the online festival in 2020.

Writing Durham

Episode 1: Pat Barker and Benjamin Myers

For the first episode of Writing Durham, Laura McKenzie is joined by two of Co. Durham’s leading literary figures, Pat Barker and Benjamin Myers. Booker Prize winner Pat Barker has lived in Durham for the past forty years, while Myers – who won the 2018 Walter Scott Prize – grew up in Belmont, a suburb of Durham City. Listen in as they discuss place, memory, and what calling Durham home means to them as writers.

Episode 2: Anne Stevenson

In episode two Laura McKenzie talks to Anne Stevenson, a major voice in British and American poetry. Born in Cambridge, UK, and brought up in New England, Stevenson lived a variously transatlantic life before settling in Co. Durham in the 1980s. Laura joined Anne in her home to talk about Durham’s shifting nature, and the different ways in which County and City have worked their way through her poetry. Anne Stevenson died in 2020.

Episode 3: Gillian Allnutt And Kayo Chingonyi

Gillian Allnutt has authored nine major collections and was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2016. She was born in London but spent half of her childhood in Newcastle upon Tyne. Kayo Chingonyi is a poet and critic whose collection Kumukanda?won the 2017 Dylan Thomas Prize. Like Gillian he spent some of his childhood in Newcastle, and in this episode the two poets discuss how their shared experience of leaving and then returning to the North East has shaped their work.

Episode 4: Mim Skinner

In this episode Laura is joined by Mim Skinner, author of the poignant and darkly funny? Jailbirds and co-founder and director of Chester-le-Street’s multi-award winning community interest company REfUSE, which works to intercept food that would otherwise go into landfill. Mim has spent years delivering arts courses in prisons throughout the North East, and talks here about the women she met, their stories, and the systemic problems that underpin their experience.

Episode 5: DBC Pierre

For the final episode of Writing Durham, Lee Brackstone of White Rabbit Books talks to DBC Pierre about ‘The Long Cascade’, a specially commissioned piece which is inspired by his family’s strong connection to Durham, as well as his latest novel Meanwhile in Dopamine City.

DBF 2018

Durham Book Festival 2018

Kathryn Mannix on With The End in Mind

This New Writing North podcast was recorded at Durham Book Festival 2018. In this episode, palliative care specialist Kathryn Mannix talks to Professor Douglas Davies about her new book With the End in Mind, an exploration of one of the biggest taboos in our society and the only certainty we all share: death. They discuss how important it is to re-claim public understanding of death, and how it allows us to plan and relate to our dearest during the last part of our, or their, lives.

Sarah Perry in conversation with Professor Simon James

This New Writing North podcast was recorded at Durham Book Festival 2018. In this episode, award-winning author Sarah Perry introduces her new novel Melmoth, a chilling and deeply moving book that speaks urgently to our times.

Sarah is in conversation with Professor Simon James of Durham University, and discusses her writing structure (or lack thereof), plans for her future books and how her upbringing has influenced her taste for the gothic.

Professor Dame Sue Black on All That Remains: A Life in Death

Warning: contains content which some listeners may find upsetting.

This New Writing North podcast was recorded at Durham Book Festival 2018. In this episode, one of the world’s leading forensic anthropologists, Professor Dame Sue Black, introduces her new book All That Remains: A Life in Death. This gripping memoir provides a fascinating look at death – its causes, our attitudes towards it, and the forensic scientist’s way of analysing it. Sue is in conversation with Claire Malcolm, Chief Executive of New Writing North.

Alta'ir Durham-Jordan Creative Exchange

This New Writing North podcast was recorded at Durham Book Festival 2018. In this episode Jordanian screenplay writer Mofleh Aladwan and poet Linda France discuss their experiences taking part in the Alta’ir creative exchange. This cross-cultural exchange between Durham and Amman was established to help raise the profile of British writing in Jordan and of Arab writing and culture in the UK.

Alta’ir is a partnership project between Durham Book Festival/New Writing North, the Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL), St Mary’s College, Durham University, Dr Fadia Faqir and the British Council.

Owen Sheers and The Green Hollow

This New Writing North podcast was recorded at Durham Book Festival 2018. In this episode poet, author and playwright, Owen Sheers talks to Professor Stephen Regan about The Green Hollow, his moving and beautifully rendered film poem about the 1966 Aberfan mining disaster. The two discuss the way the disaster affected the community of Aberfan, and how it created a ‘radical culture of the betrayed.’

Jason Cowley and Lewis Goodall - Understanding the Age of Upheaval

This New Writing North podcast was recorded at Durham Book Festival 2018. In this episode, New Statesman editor Jason Cowley and Sky News Correspondent Lewis Goodall introduce their new books, and discuss one of the most turbulent periods in UK political history – from the fall of Blair to the rise of Corbyn and Brexit. This discussion is chaired by Dr Claire Sutherland of Durham University.

Pat Barker in conversation with Dr Anne Whitehead

This New Writing North podcast was recorded at Durham Book Festival 2018. In this episode, Booker-prize winning author Pat Barker introduces her new book The Silence of the Girls, in conversation with Dr Anne Whitehead of Newcastle University.

The Silence of the Girls is a brilliant reimagining of the legendary Trojan War told instead from the overlooked perspective of Briseis, one of many women silenced by history. Pat talks about the importance of female perspectives in history, the parallels between The Silence of the Girls and her award-winning Regeneration and the relevance of reimagining the classics for modern day readers.

Durham Book Festival is commissioned by Durham County Council and produced by New Writing North.