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A Magazine for Sheffield

Wordlife returns with Sheffield’s own Reading Room

A new event series unites non-fiction, poetry and activism in a glorious literary cabaret, with the first event exploring ideas of 'Radical Intimacy' through conversation and poetry.

Poet Hollie McNish performing at a Wordlife event.

Hollie McNish performing at a Wordlife event.

A new event series will bring ideas, poetry and conversations about deep societal change to Sheffield, a collaboration between local project Wordlife and independent publisher Pluto Press.

The Reading Room is a UK-wide project coordinated by the publisher, connecting existing literary organisations across the country with a focus on systemic change, including Left Book Club, The New Bridge Project in Newcastle, The Old Waterworks in Southend-On-Sea and more.

Radical Intimacy author, Sophie K Rosa

Radical Intimacy author, Sophie K Rosa

Sheffield’s Reading Room will arrive in the form of an event programme based around Pluto Press publications. The first of these will take place at the Leadmill on 13 March, delving into Sophie K Rosa’s Radical Intimacy, which explores the ways capitalism shapes our intimate lives, and how we can and must shake free of these constraints to discover new forms of intimacy and care.

Rosa describes the intimate realm as one which encompasses a whole host of activities and connections – self-care, romantic love and sex, family, home, death and friendship. As such, this area of our lives is ripe for radical reimagining, presenting unique opportunities for transformation, guided by liberatory and abolitionist principles.

Featuring an in-conversation with the author, a performance from captivating spoken word poet Joelle Taylor and a panel discussion further exploring the book’s themes with local organisations and speakers, the event seeks to bring people together to explore how care, connection and community can support our struggle towards liberation.

Wordlife began life in 2006 as a live literature event in Sheffield, but soon developed into a programme that stretched across Yorkshire and beyond, featuring headline slots by poets including Hollie McNish, Roger McGough, Kae Tempest and Linton Kwesi Johnson. In 2008, the project joined Opus, which also publishes Now Then and runs a wide range of other projects. Like many live event programmes, Wordlife was paused as a result of the pandemic, so the new event programme marks its return to the city.

Photo of the audience at a Wordlife event.

A Wordlife audience.

As a society, we are slowly beginning to wake up to the multiple, intersecting crises that we will have to face in the coming years – a crisis of isolation and marginalisation, a crisis of consumerism and the breakdown of our relationship with nature, a crisis of inequality and poverty, and so much more. It can be tempting to view literature and art as a passive response in the face of such urgency. But to dismiss it as such would be a mistake.

Art makes us vulnerable. It connects us to our humanity and to those around us, which is essential if we are to face up to the great challenges to come. These events will seek to connect creative responses to the world around us with the very neighbourhoods we live in, forging a path forwards.

And after all – a revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.

Learn more

The first Reading Room event will take place at the Leadmill on 13 March.

You can find details of The Leadmill's access policies here.

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