TRAVEL, crime, memoirs, writing for children and an open mic night all play a leading role in a poetry and prose premiere.

In a few weeks time, Dalton-in-Furness, apparently home of the world’s oldest book club, is continuing its tradition as a proponent of chapter and verse by hosting the first Dalton Litfest.

On Saturday, November 4, the town rolls out the literary red carpet for a multitude of wordsmiths in fiction, non-fiction and poetry as well as present a range of free Fringe-like activities, including a collaborative story writing session at the Chocolate Room cafe, children's storytelling at Dalton Community Centre and songwriter and tale-teller Steve Wharton will pop up around town regaling all with Cumbrian song and stories.

Writing for Children opens the Saturday sessions from 10am-11.30am at Ashburner House, Dowdales School, aimed at those who've always wanted to write stories for children and are keen to learn how. The workshop will be led by Dave Cryer, an experienced writer who works for Keswick's Theatre by the Lake and is writer-in-residence at several schools.

Writing About Place features Karen Lloyd whose first book, The Gathering Tide: A Journey Around the Edgelands of Morecambe Bay won Eric Robson’s Striding Edge Productions Prize for Place, and Zoe Dawes, who encourages people to look at the world with new eyes through her blog The Quirky Traveller.

Held at Ashburner House, Dowdales School, Karen and Zoe will be interviewed about their writing with opportunities for questions from the audience, from noon-


Ruth Sutton of Waberthwaite and Martin Edwards, who is chairman of the National Crime Writers’ Association, give a talk during the Crime Writers’ Forum, held from 2pm-3.30pm at Dalton Community Centre. Martin is author of 18 novels including the Lake District Mysteries; Ruth Sutton wrote her first novel after she was 60 and since has successfully self-published five novels.

Later, during the Writing Memoirs session at Dalton Community Centre (4pm-5.30pm), Kerry Darbishire, author of Kay’s Ark, will give an account of her mother’s life, and Liz Nuttall of Handstand Press will take their audience through the process of writing a memoir and getting it into print.

To round off the first Dalton festival and getting budding wordsmiths to share their vibrant verse, will be two of the region's most popular and talented poets, Kim Moore and Geraldine Green.

The Poetry Open Mic session runs from 7pm-9pm at Dalton Community Centre (tickets available at the door)

Litfest director Ron Creer says there are three strands to the festival: “As well as the day of workshops and talks, we're working with local schools and there'll be lots of free activities around the town as part of our Fringe. Local residents are already working on a poem with writer Sarah Miller about Dalton which will appear in shop windows for the festival weekend. Writers and performers will be popping up in unexpected places. Who knows what you’ll encounter while you’re shopping in the Co-Op or having your morning coffee?”

Ron, a former English teacher and director of the Cumbria Youth Literature course, became involved in Dalton Litfest after meeting former councillor Margaret Martindale who was a pupil in one of his creative writing classes.

“Margaret had the dream of Litfest and she needed someone to make that dream reality,” explains Ron. “I moved to Dalton in 2003 and have become very fond of the town. I really feel for it being between Barrow and Ulverston and believe the community needs something happening in the town itself. I love literature and have a lot of experience organising events for and with writers. Bringing those two loves together seemed the obvious thing to do."

“I’m delighted that the different aspects of Litfest complement each other so well. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to attract such high profile writers to our first festival but Litfest will also involve people of all ages from the local community - from five year olds at the local school through to people in their 90s at Staveley House."

Ron says that the festival has formed some significant partnerships with Keswick's Theatre by the Lake delivering workshops in schools and Dalton Creatives organising the Fringe: "I find it hard to pick one thing that’s making me most excited. I can’t wait to be there on that day with the buzz around me from people enjoying themselves.”

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