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Books Editorial

ironor19.jpg Small press big festival

The IRON Press festival, ‘Iron Or’ is big, not in an unwieldy, let’s pack it with a load of celebs-cum-authors, sense, but big on ideas, big on fun and big on making Cullercoats THE centre of the literary universe this June.

‘IRON Press is a phenomenon. Very few literary presses of that quality have continued in such style and stayed true to their roots for so long.’ That’s Melyvn Bragg enthusing about one of the region’s literary treasures. In 2013 they marked forty years in the biz with a festival, which was planned as a one-off. It went so well, however – and scooped a Journal Culture Award – that it has now become a regular event.

This is their fourth and, once again, stops have been pulled out. There will be a celebration of IRON Press’s biggest ever book ‘Voices of Conscience’ featuring work from 150 renowned 20thcentury poets, whose writing saw them imprisoned, from Oscar Wilde to Ho Chi Minh. This event will include readings from four of the region’s best-known writers: Colette Bryce, Kate Fox, WN Herbert and Sean O’Brien.

The IRON breakfast event this year will see an appearance from Joyce Leeson, the widow of Zola Zembe, who was a South African freedom fighter and close colleague of Nelson Mandela with whom he was imprisoned. There will be extracts from Zola’s autobiography ‘Freedom in our Lifetime.’

We reviewed – and loved – John Robert Brown’s quirky ‘Odd Socks’ recently, a collection of humorous verse, and he will be at the festival as will Elaine Whitesides with her latest ‘The Bairn: A Cullercoats Childhood’, in which she gives a vivid account of growing up in the seaside village in the 1950s.

IRON Press editor, Pete Mortimer, will have a new fantasy adventure, ‘Zephaniah Haddock & The Stolen Star’, performed at Cullercoats Crescent Club and one of Tyneside’s great contemporary literary sons, the poet Tom Pickard, will be at the RNLI.

We’re just scratching the surface of everything that is happening this year – there will be a lot more authors, workshops, tons of live music, a quiz, a free festival fringe – so be sure to check their website for the full low-down on all of the good stuff that is coming your way.

Iron Or, Thursday 20-Sunday 23 June. Venues in Cullercoats. ironpress.co.uk