As previously stated, I’m obsessed with Literature Festivals. I love how welcoming they are, safe spaces for all sorts of ideas and people.
Anthony Poulton-Smith is the Co-Festival Director along with Tina Williams of the Tamworth Literary Festival. I’ll be attending this year, and I can’t wait to meet Anthony in person. He has published 76 books on all sorts of subjects and is definitely a role model of mine.
I sent him over a few questions:
How has Tamworth LitFest affected the local community?
It has certainly got more people reading and even encouraged some to start writing (Tina among them).
Why does literature matter today?
Same reasons it always has; doesn’t matter what the genre or how it is produced (novel, screenplay, poem, lyric, stand up, play, graphic novel, comic book), the words take us to different worlds. Most fascinatingly different people visualise different things, in film that isn’t the case.
Why would you suggest someone attend the festival?
I think the best answer came after our first year when one lady wrote to the local press and thanked us for what we had put on that week. She came to every event and I’ll never forget what she wrote:
“Every day you took me to a different place, thank you”
For me it is about the encouragement to not only read but write and draw. My 76th book appeared in print this week and I still get a thrill when I open that first box of my new book; I still learn from listening to other authors; I’m still learning to be a better photographer; (and I hope better at organising literary festivals!).
What was the catalyst that made you decide to dedicate your life to literature?
My forte is etymology, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t thinking “what does it mean” but “why is it called that”. To me every word is special, every word should be given time and reading shouldn’t be a race (I loathe speed reading!).
If you were going to be castaway on a desert island, what five books would you bring with you?
Much the same as Desert Island Discs, I’m going to cheat and ask for compilations.
Firstly I need the complete Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, the best writer of them all and the only author to have a book published in every category of the Dewey Decimal System;
Secondly I’ll opt for the complete and entire version of the Oxford English Dictionary, because I’m an etymologist and words wouldn’t be the same without the answers;
Thirdly a collection of every Star Trek book with every captain and character, reading the whole Star Trek universe is on my bucket list and they’re being published almost faster than I can read them;
Fourthly the complete works of Biggles, never read them as a boy and am currently reading them to my son (he has special needs) and I’d like to finish them;
and finally, the complete works of Thornton W. Burgess who, I know, you’ve never heard of, so google this man, he’s a bit like Beatrix Potter but American, published more, and one of my proudest possessions is an original first edition of Little Joe Otter (I think some of his work is available on Project Guttenburg).
If you could teach an English literature course, what would it be on? What books and authors would you make sure to put in the syllabus?
I’d encourage them to create worlds — science fiction yes but not just sci-fi in the normal sense. The great thing about sci-fi is there are no barriers, if you find them, write them out. Isaac Asimov, Thornton W. Burgess, and Lucky Dip, for some of the works I’ve enjoyed most are by authors I’ve never read before (or since).
Who are some local authors that you would suggest researching?
I would look at the writings of those published by APS Publishing — that’s not me, it’s Andrew Sparke, who is a leading light of New Street Authors. Google them, you’ll find at least one of the authors there on Saturday.
I am so excited for this festival! If you’re interested in attending or finding out more, send me a message or go to their website.