Remembering York Lesbian Arts Festival
Friday 15th March 7:00pm
Authors Manda Scott and Jane Traies with former festival director Helen Sandler.
An evening to celebrate lesbian stories and histories… and imagine a better tomorrow.
Author Jane Traies will open the evening with a fascinating illustrated talk that provides a peek into her new oral history project.
Jane is currently researching the history of York Lesbian Arts Festival (YLAF), which grew out of Libertas! bookshop a quarter of a century ago. She has begun interviewing the writers and musicians who appeared at the festival as well as some of the women who flocked to the festival to hear them. These interviews will feed into a film called Three Thousand Lesbians Go to York, directed by Rachel Dax, and an accompanying book, to be published by Tollington Press.
Created by lesbian bookseller Jenny Roberts (who happened to be a trans woman), this ground-breaking festival ran for ten years. Jane appeared there as a writer before joining the organising committee and briefly becoming the Festival Events Manager – or ‘FEM’ for short. Her own memories have fed into her research.
After Jane’s talk, we go back to the future as one-time YLAF director Helen Sandler invites both Jane Traies and Manda Scott to the sofa, to read from their recent or forthcoming novels and talk about how fiction can recreate queer pasts – and dream up speculative new futures for all.
Both special guests have serious visions for their work. Jane Traies works to uncover the hidden histories of marginalised women. Her best-seller Now You See Me is a collection of older lesbian life stories; while Free to Be Me captures the stories of lesbian and bi women seeking asylum. With Jacky Bratton, Jane is also half of the writing duo known as Jay Taverner, whose Brynsquilver series of sapphic historical novels are all linked to the rich Shropshire countryside. The latest, Liberty, is a thrilling cross-continent adventure set at the time of the French Revolution.
Manda Scott is an acclaimed author who appeared at the very first Libertas! festival with her lesbian crime novel Hen’s Teeth. Her current work is deeply engaged with building a better world, and her forthcoming novel Any Human Power (out soon from September Publishing) asks the question: ‘How do you help the people you love to create a future you are proud to leave behind?’
Manda will provide a taste of this intense and visionary thriller, which weaves together myth, technology and radical compassion, asking us all to dream deeply and act boldly.
Best known for the ‘Boudica: Dreaming’ series, Manda has been shortlisted for the Orange Prize, the Edgar and the Saltire Award, and won the McIlvanney Prize. She hosts the chart-topping Accidental Gods podcast and is co-creator of the Thrutopia Masterclass. She was born in Scotland and lives with her wife on a smallholding in south Shropshire.
Helen Sandler is the publisher at Tollington Press, bringing out new books by women, including Jane Traies. In the past she has run YLAF, co-programmed the arts strand at L Fest, worked for Diva, and written lesbian novels. Helen and her partner Jane Hoy perform as Queer Tales from Wales and are part of the team that produces Aberration – LGBTQ+ arts events in Aberystwyth.
This event is both a recreation of the kind of panel that took place at YLAF and a thoughtful examination of where we are in 2024.
All welcome. Running time approx. 90 minutes. Bring cash to buy signed copies of the authors’ latest books for yourself or for gifts.
Tickets £5 or £2. (You decide which price to pay.)
Part of the 2024 Shrewsbury LGBT+ History Festival (15-17 March), in partnership with SAND. Please see link below for more information including a disco later the same night.
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£2 - £5
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