Islington poet John Hegley leads the line-up for this year’s Word Festival

John Hegley

John Hegley - Credit: Archant

Performance poet John Hegley is set to launch this year’s Islington Word Festival.

Organisers hope to celebrate reading, writing and freedom of expression across the borough with more than 50 activities lined-up, from poetry workshops to book swaps.

The month-long event kicks off on May 1 with Words are Birds - a night of poetry and rhymes for all the family at the Free Word Centre, in Farringdon Road.

It will feature a performance from Thornhill Primary School pupils and special guests Mr Hegley and Roald Dahl Museum poet in residence, Paul Lyalls.

Mr Hegley, who was born in Newington Green, is one of the country’s most popular contemporary poets and has produced ten books of verse and prose pieces. He is also a comic and a singer-songwriter and was poet-in-residence at Keats House.

Islington Council’s head of libraries, Rosemary Doyle, said: “Our Word Festival is a celebration for all and a key part of our Islington Reads programme, promoting the importance of reading for enjoyment, as well as for residents’ health and employment prospects.

“Above all, reading should entertain and stimulate - and Islington’s Word Festival does just that. With a whole month of events and activities for adults and children - many of them free - there really is something for everyone.”

Most Read

Other activities will include a pop-up book making workshop, a play writing course, a literary themed tea dance and a talk by journalists about covering the civil war in Syria.

Budding authors can also learn about how to get their books published and hear popular children’s poet Michael Rosen give live readings at Thornhill Primary School.

Now in its third year, the Word Festival grew out of the Islington Reads strategy and is delivered in partnership with Islington Library and Heritage Services, Islington Arts Service, All Change and the Free Word Centre.

It is funded through Islington Council, Crossrail, UNISON, BFK and an Arts Council England, ArtsGrants for Libraries award.

Last year, best selling author Charlie Higson led the festival line-up and featured a open mic night reading “flash mob” and a knitting and poetry session.

The full programme of events can be downloaded at or hard copies are available from Islington libraries, children’s centres or leisure centres.