Awesome authors and wicked writers have been handpicked by a group of pupils to top the bill at the EXEtreme Imagination Festival of Literature for Children and Young People. The week-long event is one of the cultural highlights of the Exeter Autumn Festival. It has been produced by Exeter University working in partnership with Exeter City Council and all the major cultural venues in Exeter and is funded by Arts Council England.
From November 1-7, a galaxy of literary stars will read and perform their work in the city. The line up includes Exeter University’s Chancellor Baroness Floella Benjamin who is also a broadcaster, actress and writer. The former Children’s Laureates Michael Rosen and Michael Morpurgo are also part of the literature festival.
Baroness Benjamin the Devon Week: “EXEtreme Imagination is going to get children really fired up. There are lots of children in Devon and Exeter who don’t realise their full potential, who need to be given opportunities to excel through literature. EXEtreme Imagination will give them the ability to create, then they can go on to become anything they want.”
A steering committee of 10 pupils, all avid readers from St James School in Exeter, chose some of the sparkling line-up of bestsellers and came up with the festival’s name.
Head girl at St James School, Ellie Brundrett, from Beacon Heath, said: “I can’t wait to see the events we helped create come to life.”
Michael Rosen will be narrating from his Nonsense book of poetry during a 60-minute piece created by the phenomenally talented Homemade Orchestra ensemble (Monday, November). Bestselling author of War Horse Michael Morpurgo will talk about how he became a writer, as well as his new books (Saturday, November 6). Baroness Benjamin will talk about her two new books, Arms of Britannia and My Two Grandads.
The winners of the Riptide Short Story competition and the launch of the sixth volume of the short story journal will be announced by novelist, journalist and university lecturer Philip Hensher on Tuesday, November 2.
Also appearing in the festival are comic book creator Neill Cameron (Wednesday, November 3), poet and comedian John Hegley (Thursday, November 4), the world’s only stand-up comedian for kids James Campbell (Sunday, November). Author of Bonnie the Rescue Dog Bel Mooney (Sunday, November 7) and Exeter graduate John O’Farrell will provide insight to the highs and low of his career in TV comedy writing for the Spitting Image and Have I Got News For You? (Sunday, November 7).
A premiere of a new piece of music for choirs, specially commissioned from composer and Exeter graduate Jonathan Lee (Thursday, November 4), and based on poems written by young people across Devon.
Two days of free book-related events including poetry corner, printmaking, art, and a sculpture trail will be held on the Streatham Campus.
The EXEtreme Activity Hub is taking place over the weekend of November 6-7, also a collection of nine short plays each only 10 minutes long and performed 10 times over the weekend. The plays are aimed at all the family and will be performed in unusual places around the university campus. Maps can be collected from the box office and embark on a journey of discovery.
Also, Exeter University music scholars offer orchestral adventures through music from Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings.
The idea of a children’s literature festival came about as part of the University of Exeter’s Arts & Culture Strategy and is part of Exeter City Council’s Exeter Autumn Festival. The university has secured additional funding support from The National Lottery through Arts Council England.
For more details, check out the EXEtreme Imagination website.