Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Notes on a local literary festival, part three

(part one, two, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine)

While Acorn's Bromley litfest's brochure is a professionally designed and printed production, Becfest's brochure is a 'home'baked' publication. Desk-top and library table one-staple collation job.

Although Bromley's festival has no big literary names to draw crowds from outside town, it is big on celebrating popular generic forms (crime, thriller, romance, history, travel) and broad attractions necessary for appeal to people of all ages (authors' book talks, literary pub quizzes, improvised comedy, under-18's open mic, Shakespeare in the Park). There is very little Leila and Ali Dewji's Acorn Independent Press don't know about the history of old-fashioned books (they've done their homework), modern electronic publishing, possibilities of self-publishing - especially for the aspiring novelist with an eye on getting that first airport paperback downloaded to thousands of tablet screens.

When Acorn proudly announced 2011 was Bromley's first literary festival it was kinda true. Bromley had participated in London's Festival of Literature The Word, Spread the Word, The Blurb in years gone by - and Bromley 'The Library' have held local summer festival of books and reading as an annual event since. Becfest was planned to have been a 2011 continuation of this modest celebration. Then Acorn's plans for the first Bromley Literature Festival came out of soapy water like a big inspirational bubble.

What is curious about Bromley is that its northern pockets - West Beckenham, Penge, Anerley - have produced writers as much as readers and book consumers. Writers have lived in the area as residents. Children's writers particularly attracted to Beckenham's leafy suburbs and calming River Beck. Enid Blyton began the whole global kidlit squad from a detached house in the borough.

In Bromley's southern semi-rural expanses Richmal Crompton dreamed up the munificent Just William and Edith Nesbitt named south-east London locations in her novels.

The writer's "Openned Letter to Allen Fisher on the question of poetry, place & poetics" (veer off, Veer Books, 2008) continues discourse on naming.

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