Can a poem be translated into a picture? Or a recipe? Find out at the launch of this year’s Essex Book Festival…

We have workshops galore in the mix as part of our special Launch Day at the University of Essex on June 1st. And the good news is that quite a few of them are free. That includes our drop-in, traditional ink-making, printing and calligraphy workshops, which are suitable for ages 7+. Find out more about our free Launch Pad Workshops here.

Oak Galls

We also have three creative writing workshops on the menu, all suitable for 13+ and all bookable via our website These include our This Land: Writing the Place Workshop led by Essex-based author, playwright and theatre producer Neil D’Arcy Jones, whose new book the Pocket Mountain Guides Essex Walks has just hit the bookshelves.

For the more adventurous, our hands-on Radical Translation Workshop led by Canadian poet Gregory Betts and Festival favourite Philip Terry, will demonstrate how to translate poems into everything from a picture, to a recipe, to a novel.

This is what protest looks like…

One event not to be missed is Woman, Life, Freedom. Presented by London-based publisher Saqi Books in partnership with Essex Book Festival, this event includes a live sound art performance, a documentary video, artist presentation, panel discussion and photography exhibition. It tells the story of the courageous women who rose up against the Iranian Government in September 2022 to protest against the death of Mahsa (Jine) Aminii who had been arrested by the morality police for not wearing the hijab correctly. The event features four women artists Tasalla, Fari Bradley, Roshi Rouzbehani and Malu Halasa, all of whom have played their own part in the Woman, Life, Freedom movement.

Bring a Friend For Free

We are currently offering Buy One Get One Free on tickets to the Woman Life Freedom event. When booking simply select the Bring A Friend For Free ticket option.

Book Woman Life Freedom tickets at

Image credit Shiva Khademi, b. [1998]. Courtesy of Saqi Books

Beach of Dreams Flag Procession

Other things on the Launch Day programme include our Radical Essex Procession replete with 500 hand-dyed silk flags from St Leonard-at-the-Hythe Church onto campus. To join in the fun register here to take part.

Image credit Tessa Bunney

Charters and Radicals is the theme of a new exhibition which will be on display in the University’s Special Collections Reading Room. From charters that trace the region’s heritage to student protests and social movements, this exhibition explores the continuity and change in Essex’s heritage.

University of Essex Charter

Meanwhile, poet/novelist Holly Pester (short-listed for the Forward Prize in 2019), is teaming up with Dr Jordan Savage to host The Tasting Menu, an Open Mic live show hosted in the University’s Art Exchange Gallery. Anyone wanting to perform needs to get there early to book their slot.

Anyone planning to come and hear Essex Book Festival Patron and University of Essex Chancellor, the multi-award-winning novelist Sarah Perry talk about her amazing new novel Enlightenment who haven’t booked their tickets yet, need to get their skates on. Tickets are selling fast for this event.

Sarah Perry and book cover for Enlightenment

Image credit: Photo of Sarah Perry by Sophie Davidson