Will Self writer/thinker/polemicist/critic and an avid walker, returns to Hull brandishing a new text commissioned by Humber Mouth, published by Wrecking Ball Press, Responding to the theme How Was Your Day? He will shortly read the work in his unmistakable drawl, but first Will espouses his fondness for Hull. More
Sunday teatime Humber Mouth hosted the Royal Society event The Evolution of Science Writing. Two authors, mathematician Eugenia Cheng and environmental journalist Gaia Vince – aided by Dr. Steve Cross science communicator – spoke at length about the art of science writing past, present and future. More
Introduced by Writing Squad Director Steve Dearden, Project H is a branch of the programme, set up with the the aim of creating, the next generation of writers in the North. By targeting the 16 – 21 age group Writing Squad becomes an essential stepping stone from school or college, into the professional world. More
Every year Humber Mouth commissions new work, new writing to be debuted during the festival. Lexi, Or Electra Retold is one of those pieces. Performed by Grace Savage singer/songwriter and champion beatboxer, written by Laura Turner and directed by Jake Smith, with original music Grace Savage. Lexi was a work in progress show, presented at The Gulbenkian Theatre at Hull University, but will be for some, their highlight of this year’s Humber Mouth. More
Sara Pascoe comedian and now author, has a novel approach to defeat interviewers, she begins interviewing them. In Hull last night to promote her debut title Animal she is greeted by another packed library – Humber Mouth sure knows how to put on a show – in the chair is MC Dave Windass. More
It is a welcome return for Laura Barnett and Katheryn Williams as they jointly promote Laura’s latest novel Greatest Hits. The book by the bestselling author of The Versions of Us, is accompanied by an album of songs, written and performed by award-winning, multi-album selling Katheryn Williams, that inspire and inform the main character’s journey. More
Humber Mouth had the pleasure and privilege of hosting Melvyn Bragg, one of the country’s most eminent broadcasters and parliamentarians. Over the past two decades as presenter of BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time, Melvyn has introduced me to the vagaries of astrophysics, the murky world of ancient Greek politics and, as alluded to by our well-read host Steve Dearden, – the 18th Century Gin Craze.
‘I can get myself a free education here,’ Bragg quips when asked about his unyielding passion for the live discussion show. A mainstay of the radio schedule since 1998 Melvyn examines its success and popularity and points out that it is really down to the fact, that the guests on the panel are usually all teaching academics, they are used to talking to students about ideas, so a layperson/listener can grasp the subject and find it interesting, entertaining and enjoyable.
It is the science-based shows Melvyn enjoys the most, unsurprisingly, the more challenging and complex the better. The cardinal rule he continues is to insure that ‘In Our Time is never knowingly relevant.’ Hull Central Library, stuffed to the gills with a slightly damp Wednesday teatime crowd, respond with a familiar knowing laugh.
During the Q and A perhaps the most noteworthy point is in how Bragg responds to a question about how to engage the youth of today in the arts. A person in the crowd refers to the important work the Warren are doing with spoken word – particularly during the recent Contains Strong Language Festival – which gave young people a chance to share their stories and find their voice.
The broadcaster, a long time advocate of the benefits of Arts engagement, reminded all seated, about the importance of arts education in schools: how it was wearisome to keep saying the same thing time and again and the government opposing. He pointed out that the Arts was the only industry that had grown, year on year, since the second world war, and that over 80% of 1200 interviewees, had all said the very same thing… a thing that I expect everyone in the room today could say:
‘There was this one teacher…’
He then suggested having just used numbers to illustrate a point – after a rapid climbdown from his initial position, that all statisticians should be shot – that the use of statistics should be banned, for at least a year. This action would force politicians to have to actually answer questions put to them, rather than just trotting out the latest department facts and figures.
Despite an enviable career that has seen him writing over 45 novels and non-fiction books – a man of words and letters – presenting ITV’s South Bank Show, President of the National Campaign for the Arts (since 1986) and Chancellor of Leeds University (since 1999) it is none of these considerable achievements that brings him to Hull.
Instead it is an obscure person whose name and importance has been eradicated from history – largely due to an edict by Henry VIII – it is one man’s contribution to the world that has exercised his passions of late leading to his latest book, William Tyndale: A Very Brief History.
William Tyndale, who Bragg describes as being more influential than Shakespeare, sought to translate the 16th Century bible called the Vulgate, into English. The all powerful Catholic Church and Tudor Monarchy used the Vulgate, to their own advantage, a Latinate version of scriptures, translated from the Hebrew Tanakh – a collection of Jewish texts thought to be the textual source of the Old Testament.
The important thing to note is that this sacred text is in Latin, a language that only a few could read and understand – large swathes of the priesthood were illiterate which led to widespread corruption throughout the ranks – most importantly this was a sacred text of control and could only be interpreted by the heads of the clergy. They did so in such a way as to benefit themselves and oppress the public.
Tyndale believed that if the bible was translated into the common tongue – he repeatedly talks about a bible translated so that a ploughboy would understand, the country would be free from the yoke of rule from corrupt officials. The people would not be subject to arcane laws imposed on a whim, sanctioned by a text that they didn’t understand. They would have the truth, God’s words and not the Pope’s. Through this act of translation, Tyndale sought to give the people the power to decide for themselves, to find their own truth.
Thinking about this concept of the importance of translation, the democratisation of language, I liken it to the prevailing issue of legalese being used in British courts to blur and confuse the handling and outcomes of cases. Another example is the jumbled garble used by financiers, to increase profits, hiding behind a language that few understand: even the medical profession, the complex language of science and medicine, that leaves most of us scratching our heads. Tyndale’s lifelong endeavours to translate the bible into English, is perhaps the first and most important step in an on-going argument, for the democratisation of language.
Tyndale was proclaimed ‘the most dangerous man in England’ he was the number one enemy of the state, he was a threat to the monarchy; the papacy; the rule of law and the entire security of England. Tyndale, described by Bragg as ‘a mild-mannered scholar’ but a ‘fiery preacher’ fled England, after conducting a number of open air sermons and attracting the attention of the authorities.
In order to continue his work he had fled to Germany and with support from initially loyal colleagues, he begins sending his translated books back home. He was aided by a sympathetic printer and between 3 and 6000 copies, often hidden inside other books, hidden in wine barrels, or wrapped in wool, were sent on ships, back to England.
Back in England the books are proving a huge success despite the fact that the monarchy are operating a brutal policy of burn the books, burn the people. You could be imprisoned, tortured and hung, burned as a heretic, for being in possession of Tyndale’s translation: you were at risk just for being related to someone who had a copy. It is now that the story takes on a boy’s own adventure tale, or can be likened to the plot of a Hilary Mantel novel: plots, power grabs, the spectre of a protestant revolt. Tyndale is on the run from bounty hunters sent to bring him to the English Council, Thomas More wants to draw up a pact with him, Cromwell wants a piece and Henry Tudor wants to ban all mention of his name altogether. Then enter the arena, one man called Phillips. Bragg can barely bring himself to say his name, such is his disdain for this nefarious figure. Employing dramatic language, conjuring up horrific images, Bragg describes England in 1526 as a ‘nest of spies’ with the ‘terrible smell of burning flesh permeating London.’
Bragg has little difficulty impressing on the crowd the importance of Tyndale’s contributions to the way we live now. He explains that because of those radical moves by Tyndale and his supporters to translate the bible – an act remember, that he could be tortured and killed for at any moment – the absolute power of the Catholic Church over the people was undermined, the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry followed and England became a Protestant country. What befell Tyndale, the genius and revolutionary figure in his time? Well, you will just have to read the book to find out. Judging by the long line of queues after the talk, quite a few have jumped at the chance.
It is the closing statement from Melvyn Bragg that I find most stirring:
‘I have given up lots of things for writing, but I have never given up writing for any thing.’
A few phrases in common usage in the English language that Tyndale has given us:
’Salt of the earth, broken hearted, blind leading the blind,’ and one I’ve been puzzling lately, ‘the writing is on the wall.’
Monica Ali arrived in Hull posing the intriguing question Whose Story Is This? Introduced by Steve Dearden, the award-winning author of Brick Lane, addressed the Humber Mouth audience inside Hull Central Library on the second night of the annual literature festival. More
Oscar Fingal O’ Flahertie Wills Wilde not a Sunday name but the name used by Judge Sir Alfred Wills to pass sentence. In this case, two years hard labour spent inside Reading Gaol, 1895/97. More
Contains Strong Language / Humber Mouth Literature Festival
About Humber Mouth Literature Festival
Humber Mouth is one of the most established literature festivals in the country, with its own distinctive style. We present writers who aren’t necessarily mainstream in an informal and accessible way; in previous years we’ve welcomed artists as diverse as Chuck Palahniuk, Amanda Coe, DBC Pierre and James Kelman. With all eyes on Hull as the UK City of Culture, we’re seeking a dynamic production manager to support us in delivering the Festival for 2017. Contains Strong Language is a new poetry festival produced in collaboration with the BBC, which will form part of this year’s Humber Mouth.
About Wrecking Ball Press
Wrecking Ball Press has been publishing high quality, cutting-edge literature for 20 years. For the past six years, editor Shane Rhodes has been artistic director of the Humber Mouth.
Production Manager Role and Responsibilities
The production manager will be responsible for both Humber Mouth Literature Festival and Contains Strong Language, which opens on National Poetry Day (September 28).
Duties will include:
- Managing the delivery of all production and operational aspects of the Festivals;
- Working closely with the BBC, the artistic director and City of Culture team on Contains Strong Language, ensuring planning and preparation is completed to time and on budget;
- Managing all logistics for the festival, including venues, technical arrangements, artist travel and accommodation, itineraries, production elements and set dressing;
- Recruiting and managing a team of volunteers to help deliver the festival, including drawing up a suitable volunteer policy;
- Carrying out appropriate risk assessments for festival events and activities and ensuring schedules and health and safety regulations are adhered to;
- Managing festival events on the ground and briefing others in working on those events;
- Overseeing the collection of audience data and ensuring appropriate evaluation is carried out after the Festival, including collating any data relating to funding or future planning, as required;
- Providing support and advice in the coordination of the festival’s production activities, including scheduling staff and resources;
- Providing advice to the artistic director and other partners regarding issues of venue suitability, technical management, and production costs;
- Undertaking research and providing quotations for suppliers and equipment hire for the Festival:
- Preparing production briefs and sourcing quotes from potential suppliers;
- Liaising with suppliers and venues on technical and production matters;
- Identifying and making recommendations on new venues;
- Supporting in the preparation of technical event documentation including technical and event schedules, spreadsheets etc;
- Managing the get in and get out of festival events, including all personnel and contractors;
- Any other duties as agreed with the artistic director and other partners.
Type of Work: Contract – Full Time
Length: 90 Days (February – October 2017)
Reporting to: Shane Rhodes (Editor/Wrecking Ball Press, Artistic Director / Humber Mouth Literature Festival)
Core Skills Required:
- Experience of producing festivals or large scale events;
- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills;
- Experience of managing multiple events in different venues;
- Experience of managing and organising staff and crew;
- Proficiency in Word, Excel, Outlook;
- Excellent time-management skills;
- Excellent attention to detail.
- An interest in literature and a desire to make it accessible;
- Experience of working specifically in literature festivals.
For further information or to apply for this position, please send a cover letter and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications close Wednesday 25th January. Interviews will be on Thursday 2nd February.