Putting the pen in Penistone!

Simon Armitage
Simon Armitage
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One of those ‘we could do that here’ moments on a car journey inspired the Penistone Literary Festival, which opens its first chapter next weekend, July 19 and 20.

The festival’s creative director, Edana Guest, dreamed up the idea when she was returning home from a literary festival in the North West.

Edana said: “I’d gone to Roch-dale towards the end of last year. Driving home, I thought, ‘we could do that in Penistone’.”

The head of English at a school in Glossop, Edana added: “I got together with a colleague of mine who was a fellow teacher and put the programme together.

“We decidedto get a couple of big names, poet Simon Armitage and novellist Milly Johnson, and filled in around them with mostly local talent.

“They are a mixture of successful published writers and local people doing very, very local things.”

Poet, broadcaster and playwright Simon Armitage will read from his work on Saturday afternoon.

Edana said hard work raising money and sponsorship means that Milly Johnson’s talk, which wraps up the festival on Sunday afternoon, is now a free event.

Milly, who lives in Barnsley, will talk about her work writing romantic novels, newspaper columns and jokes.

Edana said: “It’s going to have a lovely party atmosphere and we’ll be running a raffle. She’s a really good speaker.”

She said that other highlights include a talk by local man Cecil Hallas, now in his 80s, about when American GIs were billeted in Penistone during World War Two.

“He’s going to share his memories and the impact of the GIs on a small, isolated village as Penistone was at the time.

“For most local people, it was the first time they had seen black people in the flesh.”

A session led by historical novelist Hilary Green will focus on women’s wartime work.

Penistone Poets’ group will be celebrating the work of members in their session.

The group are taking part in a workshop with young poet Andrew McMillan, son of ‘Bard of Barnsley’ Ian McMillan, who is enjoying recognition in his own right. Andrew will also read from his work.

Youngsters have not been left out either, with lots of fun sessions aimed at them, including craft activities, story sessions and readings by children’s authors.

For more information and tickets, go to http://www.penlit.co.uk/