University of Sheffield: Off the Shelf Festival of Words announces lineup for its 31st edition

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Off the Shelf Festival of Words, one of the largest literary festivals in the UK, will make its 31st return to Sheffield and South Yorkshire this October (14-30), bringing together the best of local, regional and international literary talent for the 2022 programme of events.

Brought to you by the University of Sheffield, this year’s festival will play host to over 80 live and online events including household names such as Hugh Bonneville, Melvyn Bragg, Baroness Floella Benjamin, Susie Dent and the Reverend Richard Coles – plus a roll-call of Sheffield celebrities including broadcaster and University of Sheffield alumnus Dan Walker and musician Martyn Ware, journalist Marina Hyde, musician Cosey Fanni Tutti – all alongside the next generation of literary talent.

Poet William Sieghart, founder of National Poetry Day will also be appearing as part of this year’s event lineup, together with reggae poet Linton Kwesi Johnson who will celebrate his 70th birthday at the festival, and Sheffield favourite and acclaimed author Desiree Reynolds hosts another Black Women Write Now event.

Akeem Balogun, a Sheffield-based writer, first became involved with the festival 10 years ago as a volunteer and this year he’s curating his own event that is billed as a multi-layered experience of literature formed of three specially commissioned texts.
Akeem Balogun, a Sheffield-based writer, first became involved with the festival 10 years ago as a volunteer and this year he’s curating his own event that is billed as a multi-layered experience of literature formed of three specially commissioned texts.
Akeem Balogun became involved with the festival 10 years ago as a volunteer, not long after he started writing. He has seen the festival grow alongside his career. This year he is curating an event for Off the Shelf 2022 billed as a multi layered immersive literary experience.

Akeem said: “Off the Shelf asking me to be a guest curator this year feels like a natural progression, as it comes after me being published, winning an award and producing stories for various projects. My event, Words, Vision & Sound, aims to be one of the most creative events in Off the Shelf’s history. It will be the festival’s first event at Event Central, located in Sheffield’s Fargate, and in the spirit of the festival, it will bring together established and talented artists who will allow us to experience literature in a wholly original manner.”

A large crowd facing a stage at a previous Off The Shelf event
Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City & Culture, Partnerships and Regional Engagement at the University of Sheffield said: “We like to surpass expectations with our increasingly diverse programme of events which aim to inform, please and stimulate our audiences.

“Our national and international reputation allows us to bring well-known names to our region, and our flexibility provides the necessary platforms for up-and-coming literary talent to thrive. Niche and popular is our goal – a festival full of character and depth – and after 31 years it’s an ambition I believe we deliver.”

A woman smiling looking at a busy crowd during a previous Off The Shelf festival
As part of this year’s festival, the University of Sheffield will be presenting a series of films, podcasts and talks about research from academics. Highlights include: The Politics of Street Trees with a panel of Sheffield-based practitioners, politicians, activists and academics discussing the health and environmental benefits, history and context of Sheffield’s street trees and the recent crisis; and Understanding Palliative Care, an animation exploring the needs and experiences of people with mesothelioma and their family carers, dispelling some of the myths about palliative care.

Off the Shelf Festival of Words runs from 14-30 October 2022 with events in Sheffield, Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotherham.

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