We loved the Brook Green Book Festival last year – the tickets were cheap, the venue was a local Parish Church, and hearing Edward Fox reading The Four Quartets was utterly memorable. This year the festival has grown slightly, with most, though not all, of its events taking place at the nearby Bush Theatre. But the whole festival still feels manageable, which is lucky because there isn’t a talk we would want to miss. Michael Morpurgo, Kate Summerscale and Andrew Miller make up the better known names, but we are just as excited to see Artemis Cooper talking about Patrick Leigh Fermor (read this review of Artemis’s biography of Fermor and just try not to order the book), and columnists Ferdinand Mount and Harriet Sergeant on the extremes of society, in a talk with the very good title of ‘Hoodies and Oligarchs.’
But the event we are booking multiple seats for (and taking friends and family to) is, ‘iF Poems: Great Poetry, Performed’ on October 30th at 7.30pm – a reading of poems selected from new anthology, iF: A Treasury of Poems for Almost Every Possibility edited by Allie Esiri and Rachel Kelly. Esiri, an actress and writer, and Kelly, a journalist, created the bestselling (and brilliant) app iF Poems, and this treasury, for children and adults alike, is their follow up. The book is divided into chapters by theme, with headings like ‘Growing Up’, ‘Humour and Nonsense’, and ‘Animals, Nature and Seasons,’ and contains poems both familiar and new, each with its own mini introduction, giving just the right amount of context and explanation. We love this book, and the only thing better than reading it will be hearing the poems read aloud. Helen Fielding, alongside actors Julian Glover and Isla Blair will be doing the honours, and all proceeds go to Save the Children (any profits made by the Brook Green Festival, by the way, go to charity Volunteer Reading Help).