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Hollie McNish

Hollie loves poetry. She has written her diaries in poems since she was seven, a little obsessively. Now a full time poet, she has garnered titles such as ‘Boundary Breaker’ (Marie Claire), ‘Internet Sensation’ (Best Daily), ‘Incredible’ (Huffington Post). Benjamin Zephaniah said, ‘I can’t take my ears off her’. In 2015, she won the Arts Foundation Fellowship in Spoken Word, with judge Don Patterson commending her ‘huge visceral punch on stage’ and became the first poet to perform and record an album at London’s Abbey Road Studios.

Hollie has performed across the world but has a few favourite spots to read and hear live poetry: Bang Said The Gun (London), Neu Reekie (Edinburgh), Wandering Word Stage (Shambala Festival), Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival (Belfast), The Poetry Stage (Latitude Festival), Loud Poets (Edinburgh-Glasgow), Off The Shelf (Sheffield), Humbermouth Festival (Hull), Hammer and Tongue (various locations), Lingo (Dublin), Chill Pill (London) and the Festival Internacional de Poesia (Medellin, Colombia).

She really loves poetry.

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Amanda Eyre Ward

Amanda Eyre Ward is the critically acclaimed author of five novels, including the bestseller How to Be Lost. She has spent the last year visiting shelters in Texas and California, meeting immigrant children and hearing their stories. The Same Sky is inspired by them.

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Dean Bakopoulos

Dean Bakopoulos, author of Summerlong, is also the author of the New York Times Notable Book Please Don’t Come Back From the Moon (Transworld, 2006) and My American Unhappiness (HMH, 2011). He is the writer-in-residence of English at Grinnell College, and lives in Iowa.

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Bianca Zander

Bianca Zander is British-born but has lived in New Zealand for the past two decades. Her first novel, The Girl Below, was a finalist for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, and she is the recipient of the Creative New Zealand Louis Johnson New Writers’ Bursary and the Grimshaw Sargeson Fellowship, recognizing her as one of New Zealand’s eminent writers. She is a lecturer in creative writing at the Auckland University of Technology.

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Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng is the author of the novel Everything I Never Told You  (June 2014, Penguin Press). She grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio, in a family of scientists. Celeste attended Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan (now the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan), where she won the Hopwood Award.  Her fiction and essays have appeared in One Story, TriQuarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, the Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere, and she is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize.

Currently she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and son, where she teaches fiction writing at Grub Street and is at work on a second novel and a collection of short stories.

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John Brandon

John Brandon was raised on the Gulf Coast of Florida, and has worked at a lumber mill, a windshield warehouse, and a Coca-Cola distributor. Acclaim for his first novel, Arkansas, led to his appointment as John & Renee Grisham Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi.

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John Safran

John Safran is an award-winning documentary-maker of provocative and hilarious takes on race, the media, religion and other issues. Both John Safran’s Music Jamboree (2002) and John Safran vs. God (2004) won Australian Film Industry awards for Best Comedy Series and Most Original Concept, and were also nominated for Logie Awards. Other shows include John Safran’s Race Relations (2009) which was nominated for two awards at the prestigious Rose d’Or Festival in Switzerland and Speaking in Tongues (2005-06). John currently co-hosts Sunday Night Safran, a radio talk in Australia.

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Monica Byrne

Monica Byrne studied at Wellesley College and MIT. She’s a freelance writer and playwright and lives in Durham, North Carolina.

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Nicola Griffith

Nicola Griffith is the award-winning author of five previous novels and a memoir. A native of Yorkshire – now a dual US/UK citizen – she is a onetime self-defence instructor who turned to writing full-time upon being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1993. She lives with her wife, the writer Kelley Eskridge, in Seattle.

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Inga Simpson

Inga Simpson has a PhD in Creative Writing and a Masters in Australian Literature. Before turning seriously to fiction, Inga had a long career as a professional writer, including stints for federal Parliament and the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Inga is currently working on a nature writing project (Notes from Olvar Wood) and researching Australian nature writing as part of an MPhil in Literature.

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Ajay Close

Ajay Close is a novelist and dramatist. Her first novel, Official and Doubtful, was longlisted for the Orange Prize. Her latest novel, Trust, will be published by Blackfriars in February 2014.

Ajay’s first career was in journalism, where she won many awards. She has written for Scotland on Sunday, the Scotsman, the Sunday Herald, the Herald, the Scottish Review of Books, the Sunday Times, the Independent, the New Statesman, and other publications.

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Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, occupying a 21-acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Southbank Centre is home to the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and the Hayward Gallery as well as The Saison Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection.

Southbank Centre’s Festival of Neighbourhood with MasterCard (4 May to 8 September 2013) was a celebration of the idea of neighbourhood and an exploration of what it means to be a good neighbour. Local communities and partners from across the UK and abroad participated in creating the festival – from Lambeth and Brixton in South London to artists and young people from Pelhourino in Salvador, Brazil – with a wide-ranging programme of themed weekends, performances, talks, outdoor art installations and urban greenery across Southbank Centre’s 21-acre site.

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Elliott Holt

Elliott Holt was born and raised in Washington, D.C. A former copywriter who worked at advertising agencies in Moscow, London, and New York, Holt attended the MFA program at Brooklyn College (where she won the Himan Brown award) at night while working full time in Manhattan during the day. Her short fiction has been published in Guernica, Kenyon Review online, Bellevue Literary Review and The Pushcart Prize XXXV (2011 anthology). In addition to winning a Pushcart Prize, she was the runner-up of the 2011 PEN Emerging Writers Award. You Are One of Them, named an Editors’ Choice by the New York Times Book Review, is her first novel.

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Rob Delaney

Rob Delaney has been named the “Funniest Person on Twitter” by Comedy Central and one of the “50 Funniest People” by Rolling Stone. He writes for Vice and The Guardian. This is his first book.

Watch Rob speak about his experience at Leeds festival


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Joanna Hershon

Joanna Hershon is the author of The German Bride, The Outside of August and Swimming. She has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Edward Albee Foundation. An adjunct professor in the creative writing department at Columbia University, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the painter Derek Buckner, and their twin sons.

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Annabel Markova

Annabel Markova is a former BBC journalist and screenwriter. She is the author of eight novels, all published under Annabel Dilke:  Party Wall (1990), Present from the Past (1993), The Inheritance (2004), Secret Relations (2005) and A Perfect Revenge (2007). Her work has been shortlisted for the Sunday Express Award, the Dennis Potter Award and selected as Sunday Times ‘Pick of the Year’. She lives in London, where she was born, and has a daughter.

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Benjamin Anastas

Benjamin Anastas is the author of the novels An Underachiever’s Diary, recently re-released in paperback by the Dial Press, and The Faithful Narrative of a Pastor’s Disappearance (FSG), which was a New York Times notable book. His memoir Too Good to Be True was published in October of 2012 by New Harvest/HMH. Other work has appeared in The Paris ReviewHarper’sThe New York Times MagazineBookforumThe Yale Review and The Best American Essays 2012. He teaches literature at Bennington College and is also on the core faculty of the Bennington Writing Seminars.

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Cathy Marie Buchanan

Cathy Marie Buchanan is the author of The Painted Girls which has been published to wide acclaim in America, debuted on the New York Times bestsellers list and is a #1 bestseller in Canada.  The Day the Falls Stood Still, also a New York Times bestseller, is set in her hometown of Niagara Falls. A former student of classical ballet, Buchanan left a decade long career to pursue her dream of writing novels.  She holds a BSc (Honours Biochemistry) and an MBA from Western University, and lives in Toronto with her husband and three sons.

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