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Literary festival gets it write

35Over the weekend, thousands flocked to Whitechapel Idea Store for the Writeidea literary festival. The free festival organised by Tower Hamlets Council celebrated all things to do with the written word.

The busy venue drew crowds from all across London where a new-born baby rubbed shoulders with 100-year-old former borough councillor, Max Levitas. Visitors who had never attended Writeidea praised the quality of the talks and the festival itself.

One person said: “This was my first visit to the Writeidea Festival. I’m extremely grateful to have an event like this on my doorstep for free!”

Some of the most attended events included:

  • celebrated poet, Michael Rosen, who did readings from his new adult collection,Don’t Mention the Children. His poems covered topics from anti-Semitism to fascism and war. He drew links between the world today and the world inhabited by his parents and grandparents
  • Vaseem Khan described the moment he moved to Mumbai in 1997 and saw an elephant walking down the street. This point in his life, together with his childhood in the East End, inspired hisBaby Ganesh Detective Agency series
  • Holly Bourne did readings from her bookAm I Normal Yet? – which explores mental health, love, friendship and feminism
  • David Rosenberg talked of East London’s radical past – from Chartists and suffragettes.

Throughout the festival, there was a Writeidea Hub on the fourth floor with open mic slots, book signings, special events and much more.

Writeidea also worked with the Shanghati Literary Society. They put on a piece of community theatre called The Library of Lost Books – which saw volunteers writing the script and producing the show.

The event was backed by Brick Lane Bookshop, Arts Council England, Starbucks and the Canary Wharf Group, among others.

Cllr Asma Begum, cabinet member for culture, added: “Writeidea is such a great festival. That is mainly because we listen to what people want. Many of the authors were requested by residents.

“This festival is a great example of how a council can inspire people to read and write in an innovative and exciting way.”