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Hip-hop Bard plans a big birthday surprise

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Brooklyn rapper Devon Glover, AKA The Sonnet Man. Photo: Mark Williamson.
Brooklyn rapper Devon Glover, AKA The Sonnet Man. Photo: Mark Williamson.

THIS week has seen more details of the ninth Stratford Literary Festival revealed by organisers — and one of the stand-out events is an attempt at a feat that Herald arts is told has never before been achieved.

On Sunday, 24th April, Brooklyn rapper Devon Glover, AKA The Sonnet Man, will attempt to recite all of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets, non-stop in a hip-hop style.

Devon, who specialises in making the Bard’s work accessible to young people, will be making his world record breaking attempt outside Shakespeare’s Birthplace as the town celebrates the birth, and death, of its most famous son in this 400th anniversary year.

The festival also abounds with debut authors talking about their first pieces of work.

These new writers include Andrew Michael Hurley (26th April), whose debut, The Loney, a gothic novel set in a wild part of the Lancashire Coast, scooped this year’s Costa First Novel Award.

Joanna Cannon (28th April) will be discussing The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, already a bestseller, and Janet Ellis (28th April), better known as an actress and Blue Peter presenter, will be bringing her first novel, The Butcher’s Hook, to Stratford.

It is a dark story set in Victorian London and already published to critical acclaim.

Debut local writers are also to get the chance to talk about their work in the free, New Voices series.

Festival director, Annie Ashworth, said: “We have always tried to break new ground and have been the first festival to commission a novella, publish a book every year of the best poems and short stories entered into our creative writing competition, and the first to run a global online poll to find the most popular book anyone would take on a journey.

"This year is no different in the number of firsts we’re presenting, and it makes for a very exciting programme."

Also appearing is BBC Springwatch and Autumnwatch presenter, Chris Packham (30th April), and Martin Jarvis, and his wife Rosalind Ayres, who join composer Richard Sisson for a celebration of the life and work of Beatrix Potter (24th April).

For tickets call 01789 207100.

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