Polish events at Essex Book Festival

Featuring Agnieszka Studzinska, Anita Jones Debska, Nicola Werenowska, Peeling Onions With Granny, and others...



As part of the Essex Book Festival War and Peace Strand for 2018 the festival is inviting 3 classes of primary school children living in Tendring District Council in Essex to write to 3 classes of school children living in towns twinned to Tendring District Council. This includes a school in Valance in France, a school in Biberach in Germany and a school in Swidnica in Poland. The purpose of the project is to encourage new conversations between children in different European countries, the focus aptly on Peace rather than War. The festival hopes that this will be the beginning of increased interaction between the schools.

The letters and their responses will be read out by the participating Essex school children at a special Peace Panel Day hosted by Jaywick Martello Tower on Thursday 29th March to an invited audience of dignitaries including local councillors and MPS.

The letters will then be on display at Jaywick Martello Tower for our special PEACE Matters Day Finale on 31st March before being digitally uploaded to Essex Book Festival website.

Under the leadership of Museum Director Kerith Ririe, Jaywick Martello Tower will be coordinating a number of workshops with the 3 participating Essex schools in February. The workshops will be led by 2 MA students from the University of Essex: Judith Woolton and Wendy Constance.

Co-ordination of the twinnings is being led by Joy Philips, Chair of Tendring Twinning Association. Joy, who has visited Swidnica on a number of occasions and is responsible for liaising with partners in Swidnica. WhiteHall Academy in Clacton-on-Sea led by teacher Dan Twyman will be twinning with Swidnica.


1-29 March

Metal at Chalkwell Hall
Chalkwell Avenue
Southend-on-Sea SS0 8NB
Book online, email or call 01702 470 700

As part of an exciting new partnership with Essex Book Festival, Metal is transforming Chalkwell Hall into a pop-up Essex Writers House for the whole month of March 2018 to host a wide range of literary events and activities. Our aim is to provide development opportunities for writers working in all genres, whilst engaging with audiences of all ages.

The month will include talks and practical seminars by invited authors, poets, non-fiction writers, playwrights and screen writers. There will be ‘open mic’ opportunities for new writers to read and perform short works. Six guest writers-in-residence will stay across the month to develop new work and there will be a number of ‘hot desks’ with stunning Estuary views that can be booked by writers to work at (first come, first served – 2 days max). The ground floor of the Grade II listed Hall will become a Writers Café, where people can eat, read, swap books, have a coffee and write in the inspiring grounds of Chalkwell Park. In the evenings the café will become a bar and play host to our programme of readings, events, Book Club gatherings – and even a literary pub quiz.

As part of the month, Metal will be hosting a week long, residential Culture LAB for Essex-based writers, working in any genre (fiction / non-fiction / poetry / playwright / screenwriter / graphic novels etc) which will take place from Monday 19 – Friday 23 March 2018. The LAB is designed to provide a peer-to-peer environment for intensive development of participants writing practice. This amazing opportunity includes talks and workshops with acclaimed international writers, Paavo Matsin (Estonia) and Agnieszka Studzinska (Poland); one-to-one advice and tutorials; support from the Metal creative team; time and space to write and develop specific aspects of a current project – or create a new piece of writing; discussion and exchange of ideas and practice; the opportunity to meet the Essex Book Festival team and create links for the future; as well as a public reading. Criteria and details of How To Apply for the Culture LAB. The deadline for submissions is Friday 16 February 2018.

Paavo Matsin – award winning Estonian author Paavo Matsin, Winner of European Union Prize for Literature 2016 for Gogol’s Disco.
Agnieszka Studzinska – Polish Poet whose debut collection Snow Calling was shortlisted for London Festival New Poetry Award 2010.
Benedict Newbery – poet and journalist,  widely published in literary journals including Ambit, Magma, Acumen, Other Poetry, Prole, Borderlines, South Bank Poetry –  and The Morning Star.
Veronique Chance – works within a multi-disciplinary art practice that is mainly photography and video-based but also has strong links to performance.
Mark Grist – poet and battle rapper based in Peterborough, UK, who rose to prominence when his Don’t Flop rap battle against Mancunian MC Blizzard became an internet sensation
Keely Mills – poet, writer, producer and placemaker.  She was  Peterborough Poet Laureate in 2009 and has performed at multiple venues across the UK including Edinburgh Festival, the Houses of Parliament, Grow Heathrow and here in Southend at Village Green.

See full programme of writers-in-residence-related events.


3 March, 7pm

Wivenhoe Bookshop
23 High Street
Wivenhoe CO7 9BE
Tickets: £5, book online, email or call (01206) 824050

In 2018 Poland celebrates the centenary of its reunification as an independent state. The Language-Land is a bilingual selection of Polish poetry and prose written between 1795 and 1918, when Poland was absorbed into the empires of Russia, Prussia and Austria, and is a tribute to Polish writers in each partition and those forced into exile.

This event is part of Essex Book Festival’s PLACE weekend in Colchester.

Read more

4 March, 1:15-2:15pm

Lewis Gardens, High Street
Colchester, CO1 1JH
Tickets: £7/£5, book online or call (01206) 713700

A rare opportunity to hear three very different writers describe the process of conjuring landscape and place in their writing. These include festival Writer-in-Residence Syd Moore; Robin Brooks, one of Radio 4’s leading dramatists, and award-winning playwright Nicola Werenowska whose new play Guesthouse opens in Clacton later in the month. Chaired by Martin Bewick from Dunlin Press.

This event is part of Essex Book Festival’s PLACE weekend in Colchester.


25 March, 3:30-4:30pm

Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker
Kelvedon Hall Lane CM14 5TL
Tickets: £5
Does not include bunker entrance fees: Adults £7.50 / Children £5.50 / Family £18
Book online or call 01206 573948
The Bunker is unable to accept credit or debit cards, so please bring cash to pay for your admission. For more information re tickets and how to get there visit www.secretnuclearbunker.com/entry

Under the Influence: A Soviet Childhood brings together three very different writers to discuss how their childhood experiences growing up in the shadow of communism and the Soviet Union, have influenced their writing. Our panellists include Polish poet Agnieszska Studzinska, whose debut collection Snow Calling was shortlisted for London Festival New Poetry Award 2010,  award-winning Estonian author Paavo Matsin, Winner of European Union Prize for Literature 2016 with his novel Gogol’s Disco, and author Tony Peake, who, like the main character in his novel North Facing, grew up in South Africa at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Essex Book Festival at the Bunker is part of the Festival’s Science and Invention weekend in Chelmsford and Kelvedon Hatch’s Secret Nuclear Bunker


25 March, 5:30-9pm

Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker
Kelvedon Hall Lane CM14 5TL
Does not include bunker entrance fees: Adults £7.50 / Children £5.50 / Family £18
The Bunker is unable to accept credit or debit cards, so please bring cash to pay for your admission. For more information re tickets and how to get there visit www.secretnuclearbunker.com/entry
Book online or call 01206 573948

As night falls The Bunker will metamorphose into The Nuclear Option: a labyrinth of ‘unearthly delights’. Cambridge Bard Glenys Newton and fellow ‘spirit guides’ will take people on a tour of this unique Underworld.

The evening will include an appointment with Mueller & Malten’s Live Poetry Juke Box in the Prime Minister’s bedroom; visitations to a series of interventions, performances and screenings under the banner of Eastward: Sound and Silence, a creative response to the declarations of Polish and Latvian Independence in 1918 and the forced migrations post-WW2 led by Polish/Latvian artist collective Peeling Onions With Granny; a disturbing encounter with award-winning fairy tale maestro Nicky Winder; plus a plethora of other brief but poignant Bunker encounters.

Mark your card for our second Festival Peace Panel: Picking Apart Propaganda chaired by Rachael Jolley, Editor of global magazine Index on Censorship. Located in the Government Rooms, the perfect setting for a panel discussion that will be looking at different stories from history, technology and media about how and why propaganda is used to persuade the public, our panellists will include author Jamie Bartlett (Radicals, The Dark Net, Orwell vs the Terrorists), journalist David Aaronvitch (Party Animals: My Family and Other Communists), and journalist and writer Xinran (Good Women of China, What the Chinese Don’t Eat).

The night will draw to a close with a new show Attempted Peace by festival favourite Adrian May and Face Furniture. A celebration of peace through writings from Adrian’s 40 year career in song and verse, including material from his ‘end of the world’ show from the 80s, a song sung at Greenham Women’s Peace Camp, and other lyrical and musical protest matter!


31 March, 10am-4pm

Jaywick Martello Tower
The Promenade, Belsize Avenue
Jaywick Sands, CO15 2LF
Free, but some charges for workshops
For more information call 01206 872730 or email

Come and join in the fun at our It’s A Wrap! Festival Finale in Jaywick Martello Tower, one of county’s most intriguing and iconic heritage buildings on the Essex Coast, where there’ll be activities and workshops for all ages.

Make your mark on our Festival Peace Wall under the direction of the inimitable Sumi Ink Club.

Join in our Peace Bunting Print Workshop with artist Angenita Hardy-Teekens. This workshop is one of several activities supported by Resorting to the Coast to celebrate our seaside heritage across the Tendring coastline.

Sign up for our Wild Writing Workshop: Beach Combing For Words, a writing workshop with Essex-based poet and writer Judith Wolton, while the kids can enjoy our Natural World Children’s Workshop with award-winning children’s author Wendy Constance.

Climb the Tower to join Ruth Raymer for some Tower Tales in our Pop-Up Peace Tower.

More details about the programme of events on the day will follow soon.

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