The Third IRON Press Festival of Words, Music & Oddities

Cullercoats, June 8 - 11, 2017

IRON in the Soul: the publicity flyer

Thursday 8th June

More about 'Those in Peril'

Book for 'Those in Peril'

Festival Club: Alex Kirtley

Friday 9th June

More about Ian MacMillan


Festival Club: Jonathan Woodward & Steve Coates

Saturday 10th June

More about Existential Breakfast


More about Bookmaking Workshop


More about 'SHTUM'

Book for 'SHTUM'

More about 'The Water Thief'

Book for 'The Water Thief'

More about 'Connectomics'

Book for 'Connectomics'

More about 'Cold IRON'

Book for 'Cold IRON'

Sunday 11th June

More about the Test & Cricket poetry


More about Walk & Workshop

Book for Walk & Workshop

More about 'No Man is an Island'


More about Literary Quiz


More about 'Free as a Bard'

Book for 'Free as a Bard'


BLIMEY! HERE WE GO AGAIN! THE first IRON Press Festival, The IRON Age in 2013, was planned as a one-off, a special occasion to celebrate the press' forty years of independent publishing. But matters can take their own course.

Reactions to that first festival were so positive that the hand of fate (or some such) pushed us inexorably towards Festival number two, Eclectic IRON in 2015. Once again, the crowds flocked to our small seaside village to experience the mix of fun and erudition as writers, musicians and strange occurences created a unique atmosphere round the curved Cullercoats harbour seafront.

On to festival number three - IRON in the Soul.

Aged hippies, survivors of the counter revolution (where did that go?) and general literary cognoscenti will recognise the title as that of a Jean-Paul Sartre book, one reason we were moved to include an Existential Breakfast (as enjoyed daily by Sartre and his mistress Simone de Beauvoir at the Parisian Café de Flore), followed by a lecture, Existentialism - What on Earth Is It? We suspect 98 per cent of the population don't know the answer. Dr Colin Cameron of Northumbria University is the speaker at our newest festival venue, The Boat Yard.

And if we wake you early for an intellectual breakfast, stay up late for a paranormal literary experience as we launch Cold IRON - Ghost Stories of the 21st Century, a new look at this most traditional of forms. The event takes place at midnight along Cullercoats sea front on Saturday June 10th, in the magnificent French Gothic Grade 1 listed St. George's Church, whose spire rises three times the height of the Angel of the North.

Several new IRON Press books get an airing. Canadian poet Alison Calder is flying across the pond to launch her collection Connectomics - Poems of the Brain, an unusual merger of art and science with an introduction by polymath Dr Raymond Tallis, who will be reading at the same event. There's also Liverpool poet David Bateman's collection, SHTUM: The Stutter Poems, which The Crack summed up thus: "These punchy poems are told with wit and invention and will surely offer up due recognition to those who stutter and insight to those who don't." Hot on the heels is The Water Thief, a modern fable by Cullercoats-based Kitty Fitzgerald, author of several novels including the globally successful Pigtopia. The Water Thief is a cultural, political and ecological tale and also a powerfully strong story, illustrated by the Easington based artist Nicola Balfour.

Festival oddities include our literary cricket match between poets and prose writers (which also celebrates our two cricket books). The teams are captained by Durham poet S.J.Litherland and the young person's novelist David Almond.

There's our late night festival club with live music at The Salt House, our al fresco Fringe Festival with live music ringing across the bay on Saturday and Sunday; plus Where's Waller? in which Mike Waller performs at unexpected outdoor places.

There's the return of the irrepressible Ian McMillan whose appearance was the sensation of the 2013 Festival. There's theatre with Ruth Henderson's specially commissioned new performance piece Death at Sea - A Cullercoats Tragedy, featuring The Cloggies and The Keelers. And the Free as a Bard event throws together some of the region's leading poets and musicians to see what creations evolve.

Map showing festival venues

You can produce a beautiful book of your own poetry in a workshop run by Bridget Yhearm, relax with a bottle of The IRON Age beer specially brewed by Cullercoats Brewery, take a creative walk round the village followed by a workshop with poet Colette Bryce. Almost all festival events are clustered round or near the crescent shaped Cullercoats Harbour.

Brave festival goers can undertake, at half the normal price, a kayak sea journey round St. Mary's Island, a wildlife sanctuary and home of the famous lighthouse. Enjoy the lovely concert room of The Crescent Working Men's Club, the seascape view from the RNLI, the historical sense of the Fishermen's Mission, the vaulted splendour of St. George's Church. Chill out in one the village's several outlets whose output ranges from haute cuisine to late night kebabs.

Tickets for all events can be bought online through TicketSource, on the IRON Press telephone hotline: 0333 666 3366, or direct from Cullercoats Coffee (which also hosts the festival's Literary Quiz). All events are reasonably priced. Several are free. As well as famous names, we introduce the public to talented artists they possibly did not know, who are associated with IRON Press.

IRON in the Soul is run on a tight budget by the steering group, Elaine Cusack, Kitty Fitzgerald, Harry Gallager, Terry Jones, Dave Shaw and myself. Our technicians are Dylan Mortimer and Ryan Siddall. Huge thanks to all of them. May the four days be a journey of discovery, an intellectually challenging experience and, equally as important, also a hoot.

Peter Mortimer
Founder and Editor, IRON Press

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