2020 Penzance LitFest

Having delayed our decision for as long as possible, in the hope that the situation might change, we are sad to announce the cancellation of the 2020 Penzance LitFest. This is not the news we were hoping to bring you at this stage of our planning for the festival.

As is becoming clearer by the day, the coronavirus pandemic is having a massive impact on lives and businesses the world over. Places where people gather are especially hard hit – and many of our partner venues in Penzance have already closed. Even if current health advice and the resulting restrictions on people’s everyday lives were to be lifted by July, it is unlikely that we would be able to deliver the festival that we were planning.

UPDATED: what happens next?

We hope to run an event of some kind later in the year, although in the current climate it’s not possible to make any undertakings, as we know you’ll understand.

Dates confirmed: we have already started working towards bringing you a fantastic 2021 LitFest from July 7-10.

And we’ll be doing all we can to keep the spirit of the LitFest alive online in the coming months. With this in mind we encourage you to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and to keep an eye on our website, of course. We will also send a further email update as soon as we have firm news to share with you about our future plans.

In the meantime, thank you for your continuing support. We send our very best wishes in these challenging times.

With big virtual (and socially distanced) hugs,
The Penzance Literary Festival Team

A poem for Penzance

The Penzance LitFest team commissioned Gray Lightfoot to write a poem celebrating 10 years of the LitFest and life in Penzance. It was performed for the first time at the 2019 Launch Party. The complete work follows below:

(on the Penzance Literary Festival’s 10th birthday)

“Isn’t Penzance at the end of the line?”
“Land’s End is close by…so that’s quite a clue.”
“But the broadsheets say ‘it’s the place to be’.”
Come closer my dears…I’ll edify you.

If you’ve only heard of the pirates here,
Prepare to be boarded and take your chance.
For here be writers, with their pens unsheathed…
You might just meet the poets of Penzance.

For this headland has always charmed authors
Each one in search of their own Lyonesse.
Defoe, Collins, Lawrence and Ballantyne.
Eliot (that’s George of course, not T.S.).

And we can’t forget Dylan Thomas, who
Was both inspired by and loved living here.
Go down to Mousehole, look round and tell me
That he didn’t set Under Milk Wood there.

Visitors come from all over the globe
Not only to listen but to take part…
Write, illustrate…even make their own book.
At the very least they’re making that start.

Because isn’t that what we’re all here for
To see the emperor without his clothes?
We want to know how the magic is done;
Not just to marvel and offer applause.

We hope you’ve not only brought yourself here
To seek intellectual arousal.
Make the most of Penzance and her neighbours
Of Marazion, Newlyn and Mousehole.

Watching over our cerulean bay
Stands Sir Humphry Davy, in all his pomp.
Discoverer of diverse elements,
Inventor of the miners’ safety lamp.

This Cornish Da Vinci, marbled marvel,
Held in place by a granite anchorage
Was also a poet much admired by
Such as Wordsworth Southey and Coleridge.

As your feet wend their way down Chapel Street,
Imagine those that stepped there before you…
Barbary slavers, Spanish invaders,
Smugglers, press gangs and a Bronte or two.

And while you’re a guest in this town of ours
Don’t be afraid of raiding the pantry…
There’s pasties, cream teas, ‘Ansome!…and some of
The best fish restaurants in the country.

The people are our town’s greatest asset
Warm and inviting and eager to give
Of themselves whether born here or blown here;
A mindset mindful of live and let live.

Penzance loves to turn its world upside down;
At the blast of a horn we’re off marching
With flaming torches or greenery-strewn.
We like to dance as if no one’s watching.

We’ve got an iconic art deco pool;
We’ve got pubs full of music and chatter;
Open-topped buses and streets paved with gold.
Sorry…sorry…I made up the latter

But that’s only because I love this place,
It’s become a part of me I hold dear.
Now is there anything else I’ve forgot?
Oh…did I say they film Poldark ‘round here?

It’s so beautiful surrounded by sea.
Our coastal paths become the gilded frame
Where the light is perfect for painting and
The rain only raineth now and again.

But then if it didn’t, we wouldn’t have
Our gardens of sub-tropical flora.
Which year round keeps our town dressed to impress
And it easy for us to adore her.

So, here’s a heartfelt welcome to Penzance;
We’re sure before long you’ll be Kernowphiles.
Because if you want ‘best and friendliest’,
Sometimes you need to go the extra miles.

From the blog…

My lockdown reading list

LitFest team member Robin Knight dips into his reading pile to review some newcomers, dust off an old favourite and get to grips with a couple of classics. One of 2020’s LitFest contributors was to have been Stephanie Bretherton, talking about her debut novel, Bone Lines. Stephanie, who has spent many years writing – for […]

A damning insight into modern day prison life

Book review : “A Bit of a Stretch : The Diaries of a Prisoner” by Chris Atkins The author Chris Atkins was sentenced to five years imprisonment after being found guilty of fraud. He was a successful film producer and his mistake was to agree to become involved with a film financing scheme which was […]

Book Review: Dark, Salt, Clear by Lamorna Ash

Lamorna Ash’s book, Dark, Salt, Clear*: Life in a Cornish Fishing Town (published by Bloomsbury), which is part-memoir/part-love song to the fishing community of Newlyn, would have been real crowd pleaser at the 2020 Penzance LitFest were it not for COVID-19. We very much hope that we’ll be able to lure Lamorna back to Cornwall to take […]