Sheffield Celebrates 22nd Off The Shelf Festival of Words

23 September 2013

Sheffield celebrated the 22nd Off the Shelf literary festival at its launch and special preview event held at The Crucible last week.

Hosted by Cllr Isobel Bowler, Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure; “This year the festival will once again host a myriad of amazing literary talent – internationally known authors, celebrities, recognition of the up-and-coming talent of tomorrow, children’s events and community engagement offering a diverse and packed literary festival that ranks as one of the best in the country. Authors love the festival as they are well looked after, are so well received by audiences in Sheffield and recognise Off the Shelf as a noted and respected festival on the busy literary festival calendar.

“We are delighted that so many authors accept our invitations to appear here and we are especially pleased that Jackie Kay agreed to be our guest curator. She is a poet and author with reputation and sincerity, and entertaining with it.”

This year author Jackie Kay is the guest curator: “I am delighted to be the first woman curator for Off the Shelf. I have already had a good experience that created a spirit of joint venture when I wrote the football poem for Sheffield United ‘Here’s my Pitch’ that was unveiled during last years’ festival.

“The theme of my curation is ‘outside’. It is a mixture of art, cinema, politics and poetry. I like literature to reach out to the world and the concerns of our time, to give people an experience and pleasure.

“As part of the full day of events I have organised, I am particularly excited about the women refugees from Glasgow and Sheffield meeting, and hearing what they have to say. I wrote three poems after meeting refugees in Glasgow and read them out in the Scottish Parliament. For me, it's important too to write about issues I feel passionately about, and one of them is the treatment of refugees.”

Platinum sponsors Civica outlined the events they will be hosting throughout the festival including Fifty Years of Doctor Who with Daniel Blythe - an ‘all you ever wanted and needed to know about Doctor Who’ evening - on 29th October at the Showroom hosted by Doctor Who expert and enthusiast, novelist Daniel Blythe.

Gavin Extence read an excerpt from his debut novel The Universe vs Alex Woods: “Sheffield has been my adopted home for the past thirteen years. Like many, I came here as a student and didn’t want to leave. The city has a wonderfully diverse and vibrant culture, and I’m delighted to be part of this year’s Off the Shelf festival.”

Sheffield poet Helen Mort read two poems from her recently published selection called Division Street: “Off the Shelf is the most exciting festival on the thriving Sheffield arts scene. It’s a thrill to be part of it.”

In 2012 Off the Shelf attracted an audience of over 25,000. This year there are numerous events, workshops and in-conversation appearances from well known celebrity authors that will attract people of all ages from Sheffield and further afield.

On offer will be amongst many others…..Kate Adie, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Pam Ayres, Lucy Worsley, Dan Snow, Andy Kershaw, Roy Hattersley, Booker Prize winner and author of The Commitments Roddy Doyle, American crime author Walter Mosley, writer, journalist and campaigner Melissa Benn, Emily Woolf explores The Ministry of Thin, author Simon Singh analyses the mathematics of The Simpsons, illustrator Matt Sewell will demonstrate his drawing abilities as he launches his new book Our Songbirds, Consultant Psychiatrist Steve Peters discusses his work with Olympic athletes and American novelist Chuck Palahniuk talks about his new book Doomed.