Photography: Corinne Cumming

Throughout May – Online

Re-emerging after a year of enforced isolation and contemplation, WOWFest invites us to reunite for a month of inspiring writing, debate and discussion. Celebrating its 21st year, WOWFest is Liverpool’s longest running literary and writing festival, committed to championing diverse and transformational storytelling.

Offering a space for reflection, celebration and imagination, the festival will bring together an array of local, national and international writers, artists, performers, and commentators.  This year’s festival will be a celebration of everything WOW has achieved throughout 21 years of radical writing, with highlights including iconic filmmaker Ken Loach, British political activist Lady Phyll, and musician Tracy Thorn.

Commencing WoW’s 21st festival programme, internationally renowned film director Ken Loach will deliver an exclusive Rebel Rant titled Change Has Got To Come. In the context of recent Kill the Bill protests, Ken Loach presents a felicitous and critical discussion of the importance of protest against an unfair system, and the role of individuals and communities in creating change.

Despite the initial platitudes and declarations of the pandemic as a great levelling event, the reality of its influence in solidifying and deepening existing inequalities has become indisputable. Lady Phyll, founder of UK Black Pride, joins WOWFest to discuss the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic on Black queer communities, and the crucial activism and community work required to ameliorate entrenched discrimination.

Tracey Thorn, singer songwriter and author, presents a discussion of her book My Rock n Roll Friend, exploring her 37-year friendship with Lindy Morrison (drummer for The Go-Betweens). The book details the connections and affections between two women navigating a male dominated music industry. Thorn will reflect on the power dynamics underlying perception and observation; considering who is seen and who does the looking.

WOWFEST 2021 Image 2

Photo courtesy of WOWFest

Elsewhere in the programme, Walton’s favourite son Roy is on the line-up alongside Holly Watson and Mark Jackson for Violette Societé’s Risky Flowers night of spoken word and poetry. Seán Street and poet Hannah Stone contemplate sound, silence and the power of words in contemporary society. Complementing this, Channel 4 News anchor, Jon Snow, explores of the importance and future of broadcast journalism in a fragmented information environment. WOWFest also honours its community connections with the launch and publication of A Radical Practice in Liverpool: the rise, fall and rise of Princes Park Health Centre, discussed by its authors Katy Gardener and Susanna Graham Jones and an expert panel.

WoW had its impetus in the Liverpool Docker’s dispute of the late 1990s, establishing its foundations in activism and dissenting ideas. This year’s festival celebrates this heritage with a provocative and diverse programme of events which seeks to explore and question power, structural disparities, endemic poverty, institutional racism and sexism, and to demand change.

WoW was named Arts Organisation of the Year at the LCR Culture and Creativity Awards in February, testament to its ambitious and inspiring approach to writing as a creative mechanism for change. In this period of restructuring, WoWFest: 21 Years of Radical Thinking provides a voice to diverse and challenging ideas and is certain to offer unique insights to allow us to rethink, reflect and celebrate.

For the full line-up go to

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