Tell The World: Literature

Contains Strong Language

A major new poetry and performance festival, Contains Strong Language (28 September – 1 October) kicks off Tell The World. Opening on National Poetry Day, the festival will bring over 50 events to the city including spoken word sensation Kate Tempest and the original punk poet John Cooper Clarke and Simon Armitage, as well as Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn, who are making a return to the city. Celebrating new and existing literary excellence in Hull, the festival features world premieres, special gala readings, events and concerts.

At the heart of Contains Strong Language is The Hull 17, a collective of 17 artists who will be resident in the city to create new work, including: Imtiaz Dharker, Kate Fox, Joe Hakim, Harry Giles, Helen Mort, Bohdan Piasecki, Jacob Polley, Louise Wallwein, Fred Voss and Dean Wilson. Join the 17 at a Gala showcase to launch the festival (28 September).

Humber Mouth Literature Festival

Contains Strong Language leads into Hull’s annual Humber Mouth Literature Festival (2 – 8 October), celebrating 25 years of bringing authors, poets, spoken word artists and musicians to the city. Highlights this year include Will Self, Melvyn Bragg, Kathryn Williams & Laura Barnett, Monica Ali, Alex Wheatle and Sara Pascoe. Plus, for its 25th anniversary edition, Humber Mouth is creating an innovative new digital project How Was Your Day? which will document the daily lives of inhabitants across Hull’s twin cities.

Other highlights from Humber Mouth’s programme include Neil Astley of influential poetry imprint Bloodaxe Books exploring poets from around the globe; and acclaimed author Laura Barnett (Version of Us) and Mercury-nominated Kathryn Williams discussing their innovative collaborative novel and album Songs from the Novel Greatest Hits. Humber Mouth’s non-fiction line-up will include a panel discussion with the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize; and comedian and writer Sara Pascoe will discuss her part-science, part-memoir book Animal.

East Yorkshire highlights

East Riding of Yorkshire Council, a Principal Partner of Hull 2017, is producing a programme of events during Tell The World called Out Of This Word, bringing top writers, poets, playwrights, artists and musicians to the East Riding in a celebration of language and literature.

At the heart of the programme is the Lit Up Festival (28 September – 21 October), combining Beverley Literature Festival and Bridlington Poetry Festival. The line-up includes musician Woody Woodmansey talking about his time with David Bowie as a member of the Spiders From Mars, punk hero and COUM Transmissions artist Cosey Fanni Tutti, Man Booker Prize-winner Ben Okri, comedian Jenny Éclair, presenter and author Gyles Brandreth, journalist and broadcaster Peter Snow, SAS hero Chris Ryan and a workshop with Yorkshire author and broadcaster Ian Clayton.

As part of the festival, dramatist John Godber and a group of young playwrights will tour the region’s libraries with reinterpretations of local tales in DiscovERstories and Hull born artist Patrick Coyle will take over East Riding Leisure Haltemprice through writing, performance and sculpture.

Hull Noir

Hull Noir (12 – 19 November) celebrates the best of British and international crime fiction and also hosts the prestigious Iceland Noir from Reykjavik. Highlighting Hull’s crime fiction heritage from Get Carter author Ted Lewis through to the current crop of writers working in the city. Leading writers taking part include Martina Cole, Mark Billingham, John Connolly, Nick Quantrill and Nick Triplow, whose book Getting Carter on the life of Ted Lewis is published on 26 October.

As part of Hull Noir and supported by the BFI and Film Hub North, Hull Independent Cinema is also screening three critically-acclaimed films that have a Ted Lewis link, Get Carter, Point Blank and Dead Man’s Shoes. Theatre company Ensemble 52 also previews writer David Mark’s Dark Winter in a stage adaptation by Richard Vergette and Nick Lane.


Following on from the exhibition Larkin: New Eyes Each Year, which closes on 1 October, the University of Hull’s exploration of Philip Larkin’s legacy continues with a number of events, including Larkin Reflections, which features poets Dean Wilson, Joe Hakim, Vicky Foster, plus writers Martin Goodman and Russ Litten (25 October).

Discover more about our full Tell The World season, or explore the art and installationstheatre and performance; and festival programme.