Southwark Festival of Words 2021, join in and get inspired

The Festival of Words 2021 features local writers, storytellers and other literary artists showcasing their work and stimulating imagination and creativity with a variety of literary events. The majority of events will take place online, but a small number of in-person events will be featured, too. Artists include authors, illustrators, storytellers and poets. Join in for this year’s festival which promises to serve up an engaging, inspiring and entertaining feast of culture.

Southwark Festival Of Words 2021

New videos from a range of writers and storytellers will be posted on Southwark Council’s YouTube channel between 5 and 13 June 2020. The programme contains content for all ages and will be available for you to watch any time until the end of the summer.

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Creative writing

Are you aged 11-17? Have you been taking pictures in the local area? Do you want to write short stories, lyrics or poems that talk about your past year in Southwark?

Ongoing from 5 June 2021 to 12 June 2021 Week starting Monday 31 May 2021 Previous weekNext week

DayDateStart & end times
Saturday05/06/2021All day
Saturday12/06/20211pm – 2pm


Our competition is an opportunity for young people to express themselves in relation to where they live, through photography or writing.

First prize: £50 Amazon voucher

Second prize: £30 Amazon Voucher

The top 5 entries will be entered into the archive as a new file called ‘MY HISTORY’ and showcased via our Instagram.

Send your entries to by 23 July 2021

How to take part

Join us on Saturday 5 June, 1pm to 2pm for an online introduction to the archive

You will find out more about the archive and how to enter the competition. We will show pictures from our most exciting photography collections and ask ‘How can we get inspired by our local history?’

Join us on SUnday 13 June 1pm-2pm for an online creative writing workshop

Participants will use games and prompts to learn how to use their local history as an inspiration and springboard to write their own work.  No previous experience needed! Please bring writing materials.

Contact for links to the events and more info about the competition.


Enter the surreal world of illustrator Agustin Coll’s witty architectural characters in this visual diary of the first few months of the Covid pandemic, hand drawn from his bedroom-turned-illustration-studio in South London.

To keep uncertainty and worry at bay, Coll invented and documented the daily shenanigans of a sentient house – who is in turn housebound with its tenant – sharing the drawings with his followers on Instagram.

Often mischievous and with elements of social satire, the illustrations preserve a record of the highs and lows of lockdown living and explore the mutual care and intense co-dependence we all experienced at that time with the place we call home.

In partnership with Camberwell Arts and as part of the London Architecture Festival, this work will be on show throughout June and is visible from outside the library.

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Curtis Brown Three Poems

‘The Darkness’, ‘The Former’, ‘Restless Folk’: three poetry-films available online for Southwark Festival of Words 2021

Curtis Brown tells tales using a variety of media. He believes that poetry permeates every aspect of life. He joined Crucial Words creative writing group in 2018, and has been pursuing poetry ever since. In these poetry-films, Brown meditates on isolation, togetherness and strength of spirit; and the interaction between ourselves and our environments.

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Eugenia Sestini

The 2020 Festival of Words writing competition winner shares a specially-recorded reading for this year’s Festival.

Date:7 June 2021


Eugenia Sestini was the winner of our Festival of Words writing competition in 2020. She is a language teacher, writer and proofreader; interested in cultural identity and family stories. In this reading, recorded especially for this year’s festival, Sestini meditates on the internal climates we carry with us everywhere – whatever the weather.

Watch Ups and Downs from 7 June 2021

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The Poetic Map of Freedom


Calling all writers: contribute to the Poetic Map of Freedom

Poetic Map of Freedom is a collaboration between the award-winning poet Jenny Mitchell and Southwark Libraries. It is an open call for new poems, exploring the ways in which we survive and rise above institutional and structural racism.

What does Freedom mean to you?
What happens when it’s taken away?
How can it be reclaimed?

On Monday 7 June the event organisers will be posting a creative prompt from Jenny Mitchell on our website and our Twitter feed (@SouthwarkLibs).

New and experienced writers are encouraged to send 1-3 poems in response to the prompt. Selected entries will be featured on our website and Twitter feed during Black History Month, October 2021.

Together, these poems will constitute our Poetic Map of Freedom.

Jenny Mitchell is the winner of several poetry competitions including the Folklore, Aryamati, Segora and Fosseway prizes. Her debut collection, ‘Her Lost Language’, won the Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize, and her newest collection, ‘Map of a Plantation’, is out now with Indigo Dreams Publishing.

“We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.” – Toni Morrison

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The empathetic woman

Join Nell (The Panic Years) and Michelle Thomas (My Sh*t Therapist and other mental health stories) as they weave their thoughts on self-compassion, womanhood, and how empathy is a muscle built by art.

Nell Frizzell is a journalist, writer and Vogue columnist. She has written for The Guardian, VICE, The Telegraph, Grazia and The Observer among many others. Her first book The Panic Years is an exploration of bodies, babies and the big questions facing modern life. She lives in Oxford, swims in the river as often as she can and is appalling at opening her post.

Michelle Thomas is an author and presenter. Her book My Sh*t Therapist and other mental health stories weaves her own experience of anxiety and depression with stories from a diverse selection of contributors. The book topped the Audible charts in April 2020 and she now hosts a podcast of the same name. Michelle lives in Bristol.

If you have a question for Nell and Michelle that you would like them to answer in their conversation, please email:

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Authentic Worth

An online workshop for everyone with a story to tell – and we all have one…

Date:9 June 2021

Time:5pm to 7pm


Book tickets on Eventbrite


What experiences have you encountered in your life or in your business that could inspire, support and help others? Do you have a story that will change the lives of others? In this online workshop, the founder of Authentic Worth Publishing, Esther Jacob, shares her experience of turning ideas into valuable resources. Esther says, “Despite the uncertain times we are living in, there are many resources and tools that can help you make your dream become a concrete reality.” She will show you how to take your ideas and turn them into a book, and how your passion can make an impact in the community. “We all have a story, and it’s in your hands to make a transformational change with your ideas. Your story is what the community is looking for.”

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Words by the Water

Words by the Water is hosted and curated by the brilliant Tyrone Lewis, taking you on a journey and introduction to spoken word where you will meet 8 talented artists who will share what this art form means to them.

Tyrone Lewis, UK Poetry Slam Champion 2020, former Roundhouse Poetry Slam Champion and Author of his debut collection Blackish. Tyrone has worked across England with poetry in a variety of ways, including performing, teaching and peer mentoring. He was nominated as the editor’s choice for Best Spoken Word Performer for the 2018 Saboteur Awards and was a semi-finalist in the 2020 World Cup Of Poetry.

Based in London, Tyrone is a regular on the scene there and is one of the co-hosts of a monthly Open Mic Night, Boomerang Club as well as the host of Canada Water Theatre’s Open Mic Nights. Tyrone has also been involved with a number of major national poetry events over the years including 2010’s Word Cup, 2012’s Shake The Dust and 2015’s Shot From The Lip, as well as helping out with UniSlam in from 2016 – present.

Away from poetry, Tyrone is a full time video editor. Over the past few years Tyrone has used the skills he picked up from filmmaking and photography to work on documenting the spoken word scene via Process Productions. Through that, he’s been able to showcase a large amount of the scene via both Process’ YouTube channel and social media presence. Tyrone has become known across the UK not only for his writing and performance but also his work behind a camera.
Join us for a thought-provoking evening and have a taste for what we have in store for 2021.
Please note that Words by the Water will be presented online on behalf on Canada Water Theatre.

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Rhyme time for Festival of Words

Thursday 10th June is Empathy day and to mark it there will be a special baby rhyme time event.

Book tickets on Eventbrite


Sing-a-long, dance and enjoy your favourite nursery rhymes with your baby. We’ll be singing songs that encourage children to be kind to each other. This event is part of the Festival of Words 2021 at Southwark Libraries. An annual literary festival for all ages that brings together storytellers, authors, illustrators and more. This year our theme is Empathy: Out of the Shade, into the Sunshine. Further details of more festival events will appear on this website soon. This event is suitable for under-fives, parents and carers.

This event will run on Zoom. Please book on Eventbrite and to get your Zoom access on the day of the event.

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Story Night

Vanessa Woolf is great at pulling together a diverse range of talented storytellers. She’s done it again for our fourth annual Story Night.

Warm your heart, chill your bones and let your imagination take flight! London Dreamtime with Southwark Libraries are delighted to present a showcase of brilliant London storytellers for an exciting evening of stories for an adult audience. Join us in Southwark for a free night of magical storytelling for an adult audience.


This event will take place outside in person for limited numbers and it will also be livestreamed so you can access it from around the world!  The venue will be provided on booking.

This event is free and tickets are limited. For booking contact Vanessa Woolf:
The event will run according to the current Covid-19 government guidelines. Suitable for adults, 18 and above.

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Join artist and designer Rahel Zoller for a hands-on online introduction to bookbinding.

Join artist and designer Rahel Zoller for a hands-on online introduction to bookbinding. During this workshop, you will produce various hand-crafted books using different techniques to fold and manipulate paper. Working with a wide range of papers, you will explore different bookmaking methods and create a set of books at home. This workshop is suitable for beginners.

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Girl A

Abigail Dean, author of Girl A, in conversation with Wes White

This is a virtual event.

Join author Abigail Dean in interview Southwark’s own Wes White, discussing Abigail’s debut novel, ‘Girl A’ a shocking story about siblings who flee their abusive parents.

In the summer of 2018, successful lawyer Abigail decided to take time off work ahead of her 30th birthday and spent three months at Dulwich library in Southwark writing her novel.

Disclaimer: WISE16 publish public notices from London Borough of Southwark with the aim to encourage participation. Please visit Southwark Council’s website for further in

Page last updated: 04 June 2021

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