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Listen Up – Cambridge Literary Festival launches The Listening Festival

Fans of the much-loved Cambridge Literary Festival will be cartwheeling around the kitchen to hear that organisers are launching The Listening Festival – a ‘lite’ version of the Spring Festival – available online from this Friday 17 to 19 April.

While the popular and always-topical annual spring treat of literati glitterati and brilliant political and philosophical thinkers was forced to cancel due to the pandemic, The Listening Festival, a dedicated digital content website, sounds like a timely treat and much-welcome distraction. Comprising live streaming interviews and Q&As, new-recorded one-off events, classics from the archive, recommended reading for when you want a screen break and the launch of the #CLFPodcast – Friday simply cannot come soon enough.

The CLF programme includes: on Friday 17 April at 7.30pm David Wallace-Wells (who was due to launch the Spring Festival with Caroline Lucas as well as kicking off a series of events at Southbank Centre London, recognising World Earth Day 2020) will be live streamed from New York in conversation with Samira Ahmed discussing links between coronavirus and climate crisis followed by Q&As (this event is in partnership with Penguin and Southbank Centre); Saturday 18 April at 11am David Lammy will be live streamed on the CLF YouTube site in conversation with New Statesman political editor Stephen Bush discussing his new book Tribes among other topics – which may include the recently selected Labour leader Keir Starmer; on Sunday 19 April at 6pm Cambridge-based life coaches Judy and Adrian Reith will be in live on CLF YouTube in conversation with Cambridge 105 presented Leigh Chambers discussing practical steps to achieving goals in Act3: The Art of Growing Older. Organisers are asking the audience to send in questions provided to the chair before the event by emailing info@cambridgeliteraryfestival.com.

Festival Director Cathy Moore said: “Through adversity comes opportunity and though I have felt thoroughly challenged by the prospect of replacing our live theatre style events with those on a digital platform, I have nonetheless felt compelled to respond in the only way that we can. And I am excited to be able to announce the launch of our new Listening Festival website. The Listening Festival provides an opportunity to knock down barriers that have prevented people from attending the festival before. We hope to find an international audience, an audience across the UK, reach people locally who haven’t been able to get to the festival before, through ability, age or income. CLF is a charity and relies heavily on ticket sales, we are asking people to consider donating something to help keep us going.They can do this on the new website.”

Launching the #CLFPodcast, journalist, broadcaster and regular CLF chair Alex Clark talks to some favourite names in literature. Up first is Hadley Freeman discussing her journey of discovery with her new book The Story and Secrets of a Twentieth Century Jewish Family.

Other events to watch online include: Helen Lewis with New Statesman and Guardian political writer Sarah Ditum, talking about Helen’s new book Difficult Women; Caroline Lucas and Ann Pettifor discussing The Burning Case for a Green New Deal; AC Grayling

has recorded his event where he explains his view On the Principles of Democracy; James Scudamore talking about his new novel English Monsters; and Richard Layard talking to festival favourite and Guardian journalist Alex Clark about his new book How to Create Happiness. See and hear everything at cambridgeliteraryfestival.com

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