Four weeks of diverse cultural delights begin next week with the start of the Lutonia festival.
The event will bring local, national and international literary talent to the fore in Luton, a town rich in the cultures of the world and where more than a hundred languages are spoken. The organisers aim to provide events that will inspire and inform both locals and visitors to the town.
Its final day will be headlined by punk poet John Cooper Clark and singer and broadcaster Cerys Matthews – but there’s plenty to savour in its first week.
It gets underway on Saturday March 5 with a celebration of Luton poetry at the Central Library at 4pm, featuring selected performances from members of Luton’s many poetry societies. The event will be headlined by a reading from renowned poet Anne-Marie Fyfe, former chair of the Poetry Society and founder of Coffee-House Poetry at the Troubadour. Tickets cost £3.50 and it is recommended for ages 15 and above.
Running from March 5 to 20 at The Hat Factory is The Beats In View. The exhibition features the work of Swanseabased skateboarding legend turned fine artist Simon Dark. His original spray-painted portraits of the major figures of the Beat and post-Beat writers and characters will be interlaced with original rare signed Beat Broadsides from the Dylan’s Bookstore Collection. Glass cases will also hold rare signed books and manuscripts from this collection. Some originals and signed prints will be available for purchase.
The Hat Factory hosts God In The Machine on Monday March 7 from 7pm to 11pm. Film company A Film Place will be exploring the consciousness in machines through a programme of science fiction cinema and cultural discussions.
The event is free to attend and is recommended for ages 15 and above.
There is a celebration of Irish poetry on at High Town Community Centre on Tuesday March 8 from 8pm to 10pm. It is run by Toddington Poetry Society. Admission costs £3 for members and £5 for non-members.
On the same day, The Hat Factory hosts Culture In Conflict – Film and Debate from 6pm to 9pm. It will include a showing of the film Citizenfour, about the whistleblower Edward Snowden and the American National Security Agency spying scandal. Culture in Conflict is a series of powerful, issue-based creative films that tell moving stories and explore contemporary topics from unusual perspectives.
Guest speakers will lead audience discussions after the screening. Light refreshments will be provided. Admission costs £5 for adults and £3.50 for concessions. It is suitable for ages 16 and above.
Highlights in future weeks include TS Elliot Prize winner Don Paterson, who curates a Shakespeare’s Sonnets session, author Iain Sinclair, Edinburgh Fringe 2015 winner Mike Garry, critic Amina Yaquin and celebrated Pakistani author Aamer Hussein reading works of Pakistan’s most celebrated poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz;
To find out more about the festival and to book tickets, go to www.lutonculture.com, call the box office on 01582 878100 or follow on social media @lutonlibraries.