Adam’s Literary Festival blog – 5: Too much to choose from!

Into the festival’s second day and the wealth of events to choose from is proving overwhelming. Packed programmes offering all kinds of literary fare stretch from first thing in the morning until way past my normal bedtime. For the purposes of this blog I have to restrict myself to a quick rundown of activities.

Before getting into that I want to look back at yesterday’s lecture at Victor Hugo’s House. Around thirty of us took seats in Hauteville’s red drawing room to be addressed in magnificent fashion by Hugo scholar Cédric Bail. The title of the lecture was Victor Hugo: A Man of Conscience and M. Bail drew on a range of impeccably researched examples to highlight the importance of morality in not only Hugo’s writing but his politics and everyday life as well. The French academic has been carrying out research on the island for the past 5 years and a great deal of the sources for his lecture were drawn from contemporary copies of the Guernsey Star newspaper. He spoke in an assured and entertaining manner on the subject of Hugo’s charitable instinct, which was demonstrated by the regular meals he provided for large numbers of Guernsey’s poorest children.

Take a look at photos from the festival taken by festival photographer Dee Stonebridge on our Facebook page.

Writers’ Open House

If you want a chance to meet and chat to local authors then head down to the Luna dome, next to The Hub in the Market any day during the festival at 5pm. There is also a chance to browse the books on offer there or have your copy of an author’s work signed in person.

The Two Steves

Steves Barlow and Skidmore have jointly produced over 70 books of children’s literature as well as touring a great number of schools not only in Britain but around the world. They have visited Brazil, China and Qatar to speak to and perform for school pupils. They were involved in last year’s Northern Children’s Book Festival and are in the island to present I Hero to a local audience. The show will entertain both young and less young spectators.

The Two Steves will be at Guilles-Alles Library to perform I Hero at 3:30pm on Saturday

Olivia Chaney

Olivia is a gaining a name for herself as a performer with distinct talent. She plays a variety of instruments and keeps her live gigs fresh by bringing something new to each event. According to an excellent blog written about her which can be found here, “month she’s mezzo-soprano soloist in a new classical piece from the Camberwell Composers’ Collective; the next she’s combining Monteverdi, Joni Mitchell and English traditional songs in a Topic Records anniversary concert on London’s South Bank.” In the past she’s toured with innovative trip hop duo Zero 7, but while in Guernsey she’ll be playing more of an acoustic set when taking to the stage in the Town Church, alongside a group of poets in what promises to be an enriching evening of entertainment.

Olivia Chaney and Poets will perform at the Town Church from 7:30pm on Saturday

John Cooper Clarke

He used to open for the Sex Pistols and New Order; he starred in a 1980s Honey Puffs advert and now the country’s supreme punk poet will grace our festival with his considerable presence. This man has maintained a distinguished status among British performance poets for 35 years and counting. He was spitting rhymes before Dizzee was even a twinkle in Father Rascal’s eye. People may often refer to their friends as legends, normally because said friend bought them a gift or did them a favour. In the case of John Cooper Clarke I feel happy calling him a legend and he has never so much as looked at me.

The first time I saw him perform I was struck by his towering hair and sartorial splendour. Once he got his pater going I was swept away. He speaks with a distinct rhythm, so studied as to seem natural. Upon this rhythm ride sledge hammer satire and gags which are all the funnier for catching you off guard.

Mr Clarke will be joined on Saturday night by local band The John Wesley Stone.

John Cooper Clarke and The John Wesley Stone will be performing at the Fermain Tavern from 7:30pm till late on Saturday


It seems that only those who can be in two places at once will be able to see both Olivia Chaney and John Cooper Clarke perform on Saturday night. This is of course a shame but also goes to show what a wonderful embarrassment of riches this festival possesses. Still, those who watch Olivia perform until 9:30 will no doubt have the energy to go and see what’s still happening at the Fermain Tavern. In any case, huge thanks need to go to the organisers for wrangling such talented performers into these few days of literary joy.

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