By Holly Miller
Image credit: Holly Miller
The Leeds Lit Fest’s first night was buzzing with anticipation for the two events at Hyde Park Book Club that night. One was in the snug, an open mike that was so packed to the edges, getting in the room was a struggle. The other was a talk from author Adam Mars Jones in the basement.. The ever-busy bar/restaurant/event’s space did not disappoint with the turnout for both events. It was a night of celebrating literary talent, whether at its foundational beginnings or its mighty establishment.
From a volunteer’s perspective, it was an excellent way of seeing events and authors for free. The other volunteers, as well as the main organisers in Leeds Library themselves were enthusiastic, passionate and incredibly friendly. It was interesting, also, to see how the gubbins of such events were run, and to gain some useful experience, as well as meeting the friendly, interesting people who helped, ran and attended these events.
The buzz in Hyde Park Book Club created an anticipatory atmosphere for the first night of the festival.Even in the cold basement, the warmly lit stage and the tall, white-haired man in a stripey jumper and beard was the focal point, standing throughout his reading and the Q&A. The speaker himself was equal parts charismatically self-deprecating and entirely grounded in his work and his process. When asked by an audience member about literary influences, Mars Jones answered with an ambiguous remark on how all writing and literary influences seep in somewhere, whilst also wielding his obvious critical understanding in an earlier discussion on Foucault. His opinion on the authorial voice - that the author, with their complete control and so they cannot then place themselves within the narrative as well; it has to be a removed entity - was interesting to hear. As an aspiring writer, hearing a contemporary, successful author view his opinions on using events from other people’s lives in his stories, or writing from the perspective of a disabled person, or a person with AIDS at a time when it was still incurable was an intriguing and alternative insight.
For my first event at the Leeds Lit Fest 2020, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, both from the perspective of one participating, even in the role of volunteer and well worth attending.