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Published 20 April 2017

Booked! Festival

Stars from the worlds of football, comics, politics and activism will take centre stage as part of West Dunbartonshire’s 2017 Booked! Festival of Words.

The literary festival is hosted by West Dunbartonshire Council’s Libraries and Cultural Services section with sponsorship from Creative Scotland and runs from Monday, May 8 to Saturday, May 20 at libraries across West Dunbartonshire. This year, for the first time, events will also be held at high schools as part of Booked! Schools.

All events are free to attend, with the exception of the Booked! Cabaret which has a £5 charge. Tickets for all events can be booked online at www.booked2017.eventbrite.co.uk

Leading sports journalist Hugh Keevins returns to the festival to chair a panel featuring Old Firm legends Derek Johnstone and Murdo MacLeod. As well as their lively banter, there will be a free pie and Bovril at half-time.

The launch of the Comic Invention exhibition in Glasgow will be marked with a special talk by one of Britain’s leading academics on comics and graphic novels, Dr Mel Gibson. And following on from the success of last year’s Cabaret event, a Cabaret line-up for 2017 will be held at Gartocharn’s Millennium Hall. Cabaret is headlined by renowned singer-songwriter Roddy Hart and his band, The Lonesome Fire.  Roddy has toured and played with numerous artists including Kris Kristofferson, Jeff Beck and Ray Davies.

Also, former Home Secretary Alan Johnson will talk with Sunday Herald editor Neil Mackay about the third volume of his highly regarded autobiography disclosing the realities of political office. And budding poets can hone their skills at two workshops with critically acclaimed poet, Donny O’Rourke.

Glasgow Girl Amal Azzudin will open the festival with the Alastair Pearson Lecture. Amal was recently appointed ambassador for the Scottish Refugee Council. Also in the first week, Julian Glover explores the life of Thomas Telford, possibly the most extraordinary engineer Britain has ever produced. This event offers the additional treat of a free trip up the Titan Crane.

Ten Writers Telling Lies is a unique collaboration between a group of storytellers and poets with the singer-songwriter Jim Byrne. Ten writers got together with Jim to create a collection of songs, poems and stories - available as a book and accompanying CD.

Poetry fans should be sure not to miss Billy Letford, while journalist Chitra Ramaswamy puts a different slant on pregnancy with her award-winning book Expecting. Also, Canadian Polly Clark, now resident in Helensburgh, will be talking about her well-received debut novel Larchfield, inspired by the poet WH Auden’s years spent teaching in the town.

Booked! goes out with a bang as crime fiction heavyweight Stuart MacBride returns to his hometown of Dumbarton for the finale event.

John Rushton, the Council’s Section Head of Libraries, said: “The 2017 Booked! line-up is better than ever and truly offers something for just about everyone. Our libraries and schools will play host to some wonderful events throughout the month of May and with the vast majority of them being free to attend, we expect there to be a big demand for tickets. I would encourage residents to move fast to book their places and to enjoy this remarkable festival.”

Full details on Booked! 2017 can be found online at www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk/libraries/booked-2017