Not the Oxford Literary Festival 2013


Bringing Oxford’s amazing local talent, and leading lights of the kind of writing you won’t see at the Literary Festival. You can find a full history of Not the Oxford Literary Festival, now in its fourth year, here. This year we have more wonderfulness than ever.

17 March – 5pm Ice Cold in Albion 

A year after the 100th anniversary of Scott’s ill-fated trip to the Antarctic, two brilliant and very different writers, Kiran Milllwood-Hargrave and Richard Pierce, take you back to the heart of winter

Kiran Millwood-Hargrave

Kiran Millwood Hargrave was born in London in 1990. She graduated from Cambridge University in 2011 and is currently undertaking an MSt at Oxford University. Her poetry has been translated into Russian and Japanese.

Kiran’s poems have been published widely in magazines and journals including Orbis, The Cadaverine, Other Poetry, Magma, and The New Writer. Most recently she was a featured poet in Agenda. Previous readings include the Troubadour Club, the Natural History Museum, the Stratford Literary Festival, the Scott Polar Institute, and with the New Libertines at the Woodstock Poetry Festival.

In December 2010 Kiran was commissioned by the British Shakespeare Association to produce a collection of poetry based upon Shakespeare’s plays. This collection, entitled Scavengers, was launched in September 2011 at the BSA’s annual conference. Kiran’s first full collection, Last March, written to mark the centenary of Scott’s final expedition, was launched in March 2012 by Pindrop Press. This was produced in association with the Scott Polar Research Institute.

Her forthcoming collection, Estuary, will be published in late 2013 by Gatehouse Press

Richard Pierce

Richard Pierce was born in Doncaster in 1960. He has lived in 21 different places since, including London, Cambridge, Germany and Norway. He still prefers moving around to staying still.

Educated in England and Germany, he speaks English, German, and Norwegian, which can be confusing for those around him, but helps with research for his writing. He administers 3 grant-making charities.

Richard has lived in Suffolk since 2006, and has no immediate plans to leave. He is married, has four children, a cat, a rusty 1966 Triumph Spitfire, a collection of epees, and thousands of books in boxes.

He also writes poetry and paints.

About Dead Men

The discovery of Captain Scott’s body in the Antarctic in November 1912 started a global obsession with him as a man and an explorer. One mystery remains – why did he and his companions spend their last ten days in a tent 11 miles from the relative safety of a large food and fuel depot?

Equally love story and adventure story, Dead Men follows Birdie Bowers, an infamously secretive painter, a woman with a dead man’s name. Her parents were obsessed by her namesake, Henry ‘Birdie’ Bowers, one of Scott’s companions. Almost a hundred years after his death, she is determined to discover what really happened to him. On her way to view some of the things recovered from Scott’s tent, she collapses, and is rescued by Adam, a bored computer geek, who falls in love with her, to the extent of agreeing to travel to the Antarctic with her to discover the site of Scott’s tent, now under 30 metres of ice. More

Compliments for Dead Men

Nominated for the Guardian First Book Award 2012.

“An expertly-told story that captures the detail and spirit of Antarctic exploration, then and now. Not only a compelling novel, but an excellent tribute to Scott and his men.” 

Sir Ranulph Fiennes

“Fascinating. Describes the peculiar pull of the tragedy of Robert Falcon Scott.”

The Daily Telegraph

“This debut novel by Richard Pierce proves a poetically written narrative can also be riveting and engrossing.”

The Washington Independent Review of Books

“Dual-time novels seem to be in vogue these days. Some feel contrived and out of balance, shifting mechanically between decades or centuries to no purpose. Dead Men is one of those that works – all the more amazing because this is a debut novel for Richard Pierce.”

The Historical Novel Society

18 March – I am Blackbird 7.30pm

I am Blackbird a6 oxford web (2)

Paying homage to the greats, aka – the parents, the men and Casablance! ‘I am Blackbird’ celebrates the divine discontent of love, loss and ridiculous adventures.

With heart and humour, the show hopes to remind – That if we have faith, live for the moment and learn to love and accept ourselves for all our glorious fuck-ups, we may just find more than we were looking for…

Written & performed by Kate Walton, Performance Poet & Storyteller. 

Supported by the amazing poetical talents of Christian Watson & Ben Norris.

Kate Walton 

Kate Walton is a performance poet and storyteller, from the West Midlands, a blues-style Roald Dahl – in verse. 

With rhymes that chime, she tells her tales from the absurd to the ridiculous, mixing light with shade to create her own humorous and macabre take on life, through her unique observations, experiences and imagination!

Christian Watson Blurb

Christian Watson spends all day alone, writing. At night, he tells his writing to strangers from a stage. Sometimes the stage is actually a bus stop. Sometime the strangers are waiting for a bus. Sometimes, but not often, the people at the bus stop are disappointed when their bus arrives. Christian is not disappointed when the bus arrives, even if it is late. He often has somewhere he wants to be that isn’t the bus stop, and that is why he waits there. The strangers are a bonus.

” Full of witty word play, banterish boyish lines and a seductively comedic edge… A definite showstopper.” BeeBee By the Sea (

“Don’t be fooled by the disheveled attire and facial hair, for his words are as sharp as tuxedos.” Falling In Public (

Ben Norris Blurb

Originally from Nottingham, Ben Norris cut his teeth on the West-Midlands open mic circuit before launching himself onto the national performance poetry scene with characteristic gusto. He lives and works in Birmingham as a writer, actor, and Creative Writing student.

Twitter is @BenNorris7

“Performs his sharply crafter poems with breathtaking verve and expertise” – Cheltenham Poetry Festival

“Always impressive” – Redbrick Newspaper

With Music from Wytham Wood

wytham wood

Wytham Wood are an Oxford-based folk band, Anneli Chambliss (lead vocal, guitar) and Jules Dickinson (lead guitar, vocal), offering intricate strings and soulful folk sounds from the local landscape.  After what could be called ‘long instrumental histories,’ Jules and Anneli started playing together in 2012 and now produce heavenly, atmospheric originals and powerful interpretations, by turns drawing on traditional folk techniques and more experimental methods.  Their original instrumentations and Anneli’s ‘mesmerizing’ voice have been known to make audiences sit up and go quiet with thought…
‘[Wytham Wood] have beautiful songs and really emotive music. I can’t do justice to their sound on this blog – you really have to hear them live for yourself’ (

20 March Sadcore Dadwave 7pm

Sadcore DadwaveBeachie award-winning magazine and live night sadcore Dadwave is a collaboration between one of the most exciting poets in Manchester, Sian S Rathore, and one of Oxford’s finest, Paul Askew. Featuring the two of them and Emily Harrison, that gives a full house of teh first three authors to be signed to cutting edge new publisher 79 rat press. And with live skype reading from Diane Marie and a storming headline set from the darling of the underground, Luke Kennard plus OPEN MIC, this is set to be the best showacse of contemporary, alternative poetry of the year. Entry just £2

22 March – Dark Lands and Cigarettes 7.30pm

We are honoured to welcome to Oxford the co-founder of Brutalism, author of two of the finest poetry collections of recent years, Adelle Stripe. Adelle’s 3rd collection, Dark Corners of the Land, is published by eight cuts gallery favourites Blackheath Books . This is how much we loved it.

We may announce a couple more poets, but we have found the perfect poetic partners for Adelle’s voice in Lucy AyrtonAnna Percy, and Anna Hobson, making Dark Lands and Cigarettes the must see event of 2013.


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