2020 Commissions

Every year Durham Book Festival commissions new writing and we are thrilled to share our Durham Book Festival 2020 commissions with you. During the festival we will be launching a host of exclusive essays and podcasts. The commissions will be available to read and listen to from 9 October 2020.

Murmuration: A Collective Poem for Our Times

Murmuration is a collective film poem for our times; created by Linda France and celebrating our love for the natural world in a time of Climate Crisis and Coronavirus. Watch the film below. Read Linda France’s commissioned essay about the process of writing a collaborative poem Making Murmuration here.

Fatima Bhutto

In this thought-provoking and poignant piece, Fatima Bhutto takes PEN’s Women’s Manifesto as a starting point to explore the violence of the world we are living in today and the kindness and love she believes are essential to our survival in these tumultuous times. Read Fatmia’s exclusive essay A World on Fire and watch Fatima discuss her piece at Durham Book Festival.

DBC Pierre: The Long Cascade

We are delighted to present The Long Cascade, an exclusive commission from Booker Prize winning author DBC Pierre.

Guided Walk: A Literary Pilgrimage of Durham

Hear stories of ancient scribes, poets, prize winning authors, political discourse, and folklore; and see Durham from a new perspective. The walk lasts approximately 1.5 hours, or longer if you take your time enjoying the views and sampling the fare on offer along the way.

Outlandish is a collaborative work of poetry and drawing by the writers Jo Clement and Damian Le Bas and the artist W. John Hewitt. This was a Durham Book Festival 2019 commission. Taking St Cuthbert’s Way – a modern walking trail based on an ancient pilgrims’ path – as its starting point, it is a vision of North East England and South East Scotland through shifting gazes. Here are pilgrims, Romanies, grandparents, herons, Transits, castles, mudflats, B-roads, clay pipes, periwinkles, silk and fire.

These poem-films, taken from Outlandish, were created by Jo Clement in 2020 and supported by funding from Arts Council England.

Writing the Missing – A River Cycle

‘Writing the Missing – A River Cycle’ is a new film commissioned for Durham Book Festival which came out of New Narratives of the North East, an ambitious project from New Writing North and the NECP. The film includes new commissions from disabled artists Bex Bowsher, Sarah Crutwell and Vici Wreford-Sinnott.

Inside the Archives: Writing Durham with Dr Laura McKenzie

This Inside the Archives session draws on Dr. McKenzie’s recent Writing Durham project, which aimed to chart the County’s literature of place. The literature of place is distinct from ‘regional’ literature: it mediates between society and the space it inhabits in specific ways, and in the instance of Durham reveals a historically complex relationship between writers with a significant attachment to it, and its social, cultural, and physical environment.

Inside the Archives - Books in Exile and the Women who Cared for Them with Jennie Aspinall

This event will introduce you to the Canonesses Regular of the Holy Sepulchre, using their amazing rare book collection at Palace Green Library. In 1642, two English women founded an English branch of this religious order with roots going back to the Crusades. As Catholicism was illegal in England at that time, they chose Liège in modern-day Belgium as their base.    

In the Studio with Bryan and Mary Talbot

Join us as we enter the studio of award-winning graphic novelist duo Bryan and Mary Talbot 

In this specially commissioned film, Mary and Bryan talk about their collaborative process and show us where and how they work. 


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