Great start for Havant literary festival

Author Miriam Halaway (left), David Willetts MP (centre) with poet Naiomi Foyle(centre) talking about their books with Mayor Cllr.Gerry Shimbart (right) at the opening ceremony of the Havant Literary Festival in The Spring Art Centre.

Author Miriam Halaway (left), David Willetts MP (centre) with poet Naiomi Foyle(centre) talking about their books with Mayor Cllr.Gerry Shimbart (right) at the opening ceremony of the Havant Literary Festival in The Spring Art Centre.

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HAVANT Literary Festival got off to a great start last night with a bookshelf barney between authors, a politician, an artist and even the editor of The News.

Now in its fifth year, and although smaller than previous years, the festival has attracted top names for today’s programme at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre, including best-selling crime writer Graham Hurley.

Patron, and Havant MP, David Willetts opened the event.

He said: ‘We can all be proud of Havant’s literary traditions and the purpose of these events is to add to those traditions.’

Mr Willetts was joined on the panel of the ‘bookshelf barney’ – a debate about the best book ever written – by his wife Sarah Butterfield, the renowned landscape artist, author Miriam Halahmy, Lynne Dick, the manager of Leigh Park’s Making Space, poet Naomi Foyle and Mark Waldron, Editor of The News.

Sarah Butterfield put forward a compelling commendation for Rachel Carson’s The Sea Around Us, which won the audience’s vote.

There was close competition from Mark Waldron’s choice, his childhood favourite, Biggles Takes it Rough by W.E Johns.

Miriam Halahmy travelled from London for the event.

Her books Hidden, and Illegal, are set on Hayling Island.

She said: ‘I’m always pleased to be here.

‘I feel so familiar with this area and I feel at home here.

‘It’s marvellous that there is such a thriving literary festival.

‘It brings people together and gets that interest in reading.’

Naomi Foyle announced C J Allen the winner of THE poetry competition with Ex Ordium.

To come today:

Miriam Halahmy discussing her novels at 2pm.

At 2.30pm John Scadding will bring Charles Dickens’ work to life with wonderful renditions from David Copperfield.

Portsmouth’s Poet Laureate Joe McQuilken will perform at 5pm.

Graham Hurley will be in conversation at 7.30pm and will explain the death of DCI Faraday whose funeral at Portchester Crematorium opens his latest novel.

The festival ends with poetry and music from The Spring Poets, including, Andrew Bailey, Denise Bennett, Robyn Bolam, Stephen Boyce and John Haynes.

Two events have been cancelled, Paul Gonella’s family workshop on making animated films and Michael Stewart’s master class in writing believable characters at 10.30am.

To book phone on (023) 9247 2700 or call into The Spring, in East Street.

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