Port Eliot Festival is built on words. When the festival began 15 years ago, it concentrated on books. Nowadays, it’s about music, food, fashion, comedy, art, wellbeing, wildlife and plenty besides, but when Port Eliot arrives at the end of July, there will be more authors, poets, comics, thinkers, musicians, wordsmiths and phrase-cobblers of one kind or another on the line-up than ever before.
A couple of years ago, Gaz Coombes’s record, Matador, presented something of a new musical identity – emotional, cinematic and full of surprises. It earned a Mercury Prize nomination and was one of the best received records of his life – Supergrass included. Gaz’s follow-up, World’s Strongest Man, due in May, combines gorgeous, experimental electronic landscapes, lush choruses, Krautrock influences and introspective West Coast hip hop. Nobody should underestimate this man; he’s produced some of the finest quality popular music over the last 25 years and we are VERY proud that he’ll headline the Park on Saturday night.
We are very pleased to welcome Robert Webb – half of BAFTA – winning Mitchell & Webb and also of the acclaimed Peep Show. He’ll be coming to discuss ‘How Not To Be a Boy’, his hilarious and heartbreaking ‘part-memoir, part call-to-arms’ , in which he scrutinises the Rules for Being a Man and considers ‘the absurd expectations boys and men have thrust upon them at every stage of life’.
We’re a bit excited about this. Insecure Men are Saul Adamczewski and Ben Romans-Hopcraft of Fat White Family and Childhood respectively. Their first LP together is full of beautiful tunes and melodies that belie some of the themes of the likes of ‘Mekong Glitter’ and ‘The Saddest Man in Penge’, to name but two. The record is calmer and prettier than anything under the Fat White name but there’s plenty going on underneath. Now is the time to cherish Insecure Men.
We’ll get on to Squeeze in a minute, but last year’s boxset, Chris to the Mill, was a fine trumpeting of the solo work of Chris Difford, a man for whom words are at the centre of everything. His reputation was sealed by Squeeze but his solo records are full of emotional, beautifully-crafted songs. As well as playing a set in the Church, Chris will be chatting about his memoir, Some Fantastic Place: My Life In and Out of Squeeze. And ah yes…Another Nail in my Heart, Some Fantastic Place, Take Me I’m Yours, Cool for Cats, Up the Junction, Hourglass, Is that Love?, Tempted, Labelled with Love, Pulling Mussels…
One of Britain’s foremost poets, Salena Godden’s electrifying live performances have earned her a devoted following. She is the author of collections, Under The Pier and Fishing in the Aftermath: Poems 1994-2014, literary childhood memoir Springfield Road and Shade, part of ground-breaking anthology The Good Immigrant. Her spoken word album, LIVEwire, was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for new work in poetry last year and a collection of new poems, Pessimism Is For Lightweights is published by Rough Trade Books in June.
Lucy Mangan is much-loved for her Stylist column, Guardian and work and books My Family and Other Disasters, The Reluctant Bride and Hopscotch and Handbags. When Lucy was little, stories were everything; they opened up new worlds and cast light on all the complexities she encountered in this one. In her latest book, Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading, Lucy revisits her childhood reading with wit, love and gratitude. She relives our best-beloved books and looks at how they shape our lives. At Port Eliot, she will walk with you through the wardrobe to Narnia, take you on a journey back to Kirrin Island, and lead you down rabbit holes and womble burrows, into midnight gardens and chocolate factories.
Renowned writer, perhaps best known for his two bestselling memoirs And When Did You Last See Your Father? and Things My Mother Never Told Me, Blake Morrison will be chatting about his new novel, The Executor, published this month. The book is a biting portrait of competitive male friendship, sexual obsession and married life, which interweaves poetry and prose to form a gripping literary detective story.
Award-winning photographer Jill Furmanovsky took her first rock picture on a Kodak Instamatic. It captured Paul McCartney standing outside his house near Abbey Road Studios with two of Jill’s school friends. Taking this as her lead, subjects over Jill’s 40-year career have included Bob Marley, Leonard Cohen, Madness, Bjork, Chic, The Cure, The Clash, Alex Chilton, Captain Beefheart, Kate Bush, James Brown, Michael Jackson, Miles Davis, Oasis, Blondie, Amy Winehouse, Joy Division and Bob Dylan (she even trained her lens on us last year). She’ll be interviewed by Will Hodgkinson, of The Times and showing seminal photographs from her influential career.
An ‘amiably ascerbic’ Irish comedian (according to Stewart Lee), especially well-known to Irish audiences for her live stand up performances and work in TV, theatre and on radio, Eleanor Tiernan wrote and performed in RTE’s The Savage Eye, performed on critically-acclaimed political satire show Irish Pictorial Weekly and plays Dolores in the RTÉ sitcom Bridget and Eamonn.
If Joe Dunthorne had called it a day after the great Submarine (made into an acclaimed film directed by Richard Ayoade) he’d have left us with something brilliant. Luckily for us, he followed up with Wild Abandon, which won the 2012 Encore Award and is back with The Adulterants. His third novel is an uproarious tale of competitively sensitive men and catastrophic open marriages, riots on the streets of London, Internet righteousness and one man’s valiant quest to come of age in his thirties.
In award-winning comedian and crack interviewer Viv Groskop’s latest book, The Anna Karenina Fix: Life Lessons from Russian Literature, she discovers the meaning of life in the literary canon of her ancestors. Everything that happens to us has already happened in these novels: from not being sure what to do with your life (Anna Karenina) to being in love with someone who doesn’t love you back (A Month in the Country) or being anxious about your appearance (all of Chekhov).