literature & poetry

Southbank Centre is the home of literature and spoken word events in the UK, and the venue for London Literature Festival and Poetry International. Our programme is brimming with today’s bestselling authors, award-winning poetry and spoken word, and dramatised readings of iconic novels from some of the world’s most inspiring writers.

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When you write, you are a despot, you’re a dictator. You have absolute power over life and death.
Philip Pullman, speaking at Southbank Centre in 2017
Literature can take us into lives we might think are far from our own
Ted Hodgkinson, Southbank Centre Senior Programmer, Literature & Spoken Word

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 Julie Cohen holding an umbrella in a cemetery
7:30 pm
28 Jan 2019 - 28 Jan 2019
7:30 pm | 28 Jan 2019 - 28 Jan 2019
Literature
Poetry
Popular author Julie Cohen headlines the beloved LGBTQ+ literary salon in its first showcase of 2019
Popular author Julie Cohen headlines the beloved LGBTQ+ literary salon in its first showcase of 2019
Leïla Slimani, writer
7:15 pm
4 Feb 2019 - 4 Feb 2019
7:15 pm | 4 Feb 2019 - 4 Feb 2019
Literature
Spoken word & Live literature
See the author of Lullaby in an exclusive UK appearance before the publication of her new book
See the author of Lullaby in an exclusive UK appearance before the publication of her new book
Julie Fowlis
7:30 pm
12 Feb 2019 - 12 Feb 2019
7:30 pm | 12 Feb 2019 - 12 Feb 2019
Gigs
Folk & World
Seek nature’s enchantments in an evening of art and music from eight leading folk musicians
Seek nature’s enchantments in an evening of art and music from eight leading folk musicians
Stacey Dooley, documentary filmmaker and author
7:30 pm
13 Feb 2019 - 13 Feb 2019
7:30 pm | 13 Feb 2019 - 13 Feb 2019
Literature
Spoken word & Live literature
Uncover stories from incredible women with the BBC3 presenter on the publication of her paperback
Uncover stories from incredible women with the BBC3 presenter on the publication of her paperback
Unavailable
VG Lee, author
7:30 pm
15 Feb 2019 - 15 Feb 2019
7:30 pm | 15 Feb 2019 - 15 Feb 2019
Literature
Poetry
VG Lee headlines as Polari marks LGBTQ+ History Month with mayhem and sparkle
VG Lee headlines as Polari marks LGBTQ+ History Month with mayhem and sparkle
Cover of The Way Past Winter by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
11:00 am
16 Feb 2019 - 16 Feb 2019
11:00 am | 16 Feb 2019 - 16 Feb 2019
Literature
Spoken word & Live literature
Cross frozen wild-lands with Mila and her sisters at a reading from author Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Cross frozen wild-lands with Mila and her sisters at a reading from author Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Malorie Blackman, writer
11:00 am
16 Feb 2019 - 16 Feb 2019
11:00 am | 16 Feb 2019 - 16 Feb 2019
Literature
Spoken word & Live literature
Hear the stories behind the incredible authors who ignite children's imaginations
Hear the stories behind the incredible authors who ignite children's imaginations
Photo portrait of the author Philip Ardagh, who appears at Southbank Centre's Imagine festival
11:00 am
17 Feb 2019 - 17 Feb 2019
11:00 am | 17 Feb 2019 - 17 Feb 2019
Literature
Spoken word & Live literature
Join Kitty Cask for deeds of derring-do at an interactive storytelling session for ages 7 - 10
Join Kitty Cask for deeds of derring-do at an interactive storytelling session for ages 7 - 10
Child enjoying Rug Rhymes at Southbank Centre

Free

Free

10:30 am
18 Feb 2019 - 18 Feb 2019
10:30 am | 18 Feb 2019 - 18 Feb 2019
Literature
Poetry
A short session of nursery rhymes, poems and stories for under-5s and their carers
A short session of nursery rhymes, poems and stories for under-5s and their carers
Photo of the illustrator David McKee sitting at a table drawing
11:00 am
18 Feb 2019 - 18 Feb 2019
11:00 am | 18 Feb 2019 - 18 Feb 2019
Literature
Spoken word & Live literature
It’s Elmer’s birthday! Celebrate 30 years of the patchwork elephant at a talk by his creator
It’s Elmer’s birthday! Celebrate 30 years of the patchwork elephant at a talk by his creator
Photo of a girl holding up a drawing she has done at a Southbank Centre poetry workshop
11:30 am
18 Feb 2019 - 18 Feb 2019
11:30 am | 18 Feb 2019 - 18 Feb 2019
Literature
Poetry
Create cosmic illustrations that take poems to a different dimension at a children’s workshop with Ed Boxall
Create cosmic illustrations that take poems to a different dimension at a children’s workshop with...
Unavailable
Illustration of a dog for the Woof Woof Wag Wag Puppy Poems event at Southbank Centre's Imagine festival
1:30 pm
18 Feb 2019 - 18 Feb 2019
1:30 pm | 18 Feb 2019 - 18 Feb 2019
Literature
Poetry
Pad along to hear poems about our waggiest friends at this poetry reading for ages 5 - 7
Pad along to hear poems about our waggiest friends at this poetry reading for ages 5 - 7
Photo of an audience of children and adults at the National Poetry Library at Southbank Centre
3:00 pm
18 Feb 2019 - 18 Feb 2019
3:00 pm | 18 Feb 2019 - 18 Feb 2019
Literature
Poetry
In the mood for some powerfully persuasive poetry? Pile in to a poetry reading for ages 8 - 11
In the mood for some powerfully persuasive poetry? Pile in to a poetry reading for ages 8 - 11
Jeremy Strong, writer
1:00 pm
19 Feb 2019 - 19 Feb 2019
1:00 pm | 19 Feb 2019 - 19 Feb 2019
Literature
Spoken word & Live literature
Laugh your socks off with Jeremy Strong as he shares the giggles from his latest children's story
Laugh your socks off with Jeremy Strong as he shares the giggles from his latest children's...
Under embargo until 13:45 7th June...Pictured at Hull City Hall is the presentation of the new Tenth Waterstones Children's Laureate. Shown is Lauren Child, the new laureate and the medal she has been awarded. Pictures copyright Darren Casey / DCimaging
1:00 pm
21 Feb 2019 - 21 Feb 2019
1:00 pm | 21 Feb 2019 - 21 Feb 2019
Literature
Spoken word & Live literature
The mind behind beloved children’s book characters Clarice Bean, Ruby Redfort and Charlie and Lola
The mind behind beloved children’s book characters Clarice Bean, Ruby Redfort and Charlie and Lola
Photo portrait of author Alex Bell
Various times
22 Feb 2019 - 22 Feb 2019
Various times | 22 Feb 2019 - 22 Feb 2019
Literature
Spoken word & Live literature
Write your way to the land of ice and snow with the author of The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club
Write your way to the land of ice and snow with the author of The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club
Being Green illustration from The Great Big Green Book
11:00 am
23 Feb 2019 - 23 Feb 2019
11:00 am | 23 Feb 2019 - 23 Feb 2019
Literature
Spoken word & Live literature
Make eco-warriors of your little ones at a reading from The Great Big Green Book
Make eco-warriors of your little ones at a reading from The Great Big Green Book
 Jasbinder Bilan, author
Various times
24 Feb 2019 - 24 Feb 2019
Various times | 24 Feb 2019 - 24 Feb 2019
Literature
Spoken word & Live literature
Author Jasbinder Bilan leads a magic-realist adventure workshop as we join Asha and her spirit bird
Author Jasbinder Bilan leads a magic-realist adventure workshop as we join Asha and her spirit bird
Man Booker 50 headshots
7:30 pm
25 Feb 2019 - 25 Feb 2019
7:30 pm | 25 Feb 2019 - 25 Feb 2019
Literature
Spoken word & Live literature
The Man Booker winning author launches the first novel in his Dark Star trilogy
The Man Booker winning author launches the first novel in his Dark Star trilogy
Performer at National Poetry Library Lates
7:00 pm
27 Feb 2019 - 27 Feb 2019
7:00 pm | 27 Feb 2019 - 27 Feb 2019
Literature
Poetry
Our new series of poetry salons begins, with poets Hannah Lowe and MacGillivray
Our new series of poetry salons begins, with poets Hannah Lowe and MacGillivray
Max Porter, author
7:30 pm
28 Feb 2019 - 28 Feb 2019
7:30 pm | 28 Feb 2019 - 28 Feb 2019
Literature
Spoken word & Live literature
A world-exclusive reading of the author's follow-up to Grief Is the Thing with Feathers
A world-exclusive reading of the author's follow-up to Grief Is the Thing with Feathers
Sir Ranulph Fiennes, explorer
7:30 pm
6 Mar 2019 - 6 Mar 2019
7:30 pm | 6 Mar 2019 - 6 Mar 2019
Literature
Spoken word & Live literature
The world’s greatest living explorer in conversation with fellow adventurer Bear Grylls
The world’s greatest living explorer in conversation with fellow adventurer Bear Grylls
Drawing of Women
8:00 pm
6 Mar 2019 - 6 Mar 2019
8:00 pm | 6 Mar 2019 - 6 Mar 2019
Literature
Poetry
Explore, experiment, celebrate difference and make noise with the all-women’s sound and performance collective
Explore, experiment, celebrate difference and make noise with the all-women’s sound and...
Jo Brand, comedian
8:00 pm
8 Mar 2019 - 8 Mar 2019
8:00 pm | 8 Mar 2019 - 8 Mar 2019
Literature
Writers
Join writer and comedian Jo Brand as she discusses her darkly funny guide to life as a woman
Join writer and comedian Jo Brand as she discusses her darkly funny guide to life as a woman
New Daughters of Africa
6:00 pm
9 Mar 2019 - 9 Mar 2019
6:00 pm | 9 Mar 2019 - 9 Mar 2019
Literature
Talks & Topics
WOW launches Margaret Busby’s major new global anthology of writing by women of African descent
WOW launches Margaret Busby’s major new global anthology of writing by women of African descent
Dame Diana Rigg, actress
7:30 pm
9 Mar 2019 - 9 Mar 2019
7:30 pm | 9 Mar 2019 - 9 Mar 2019
Literature
Writers
From The Avengers’ Emma Peel to Lady Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones - meet Diana Rigg
From The Avengers’ Emma Peel to Lady Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones - meet Diana Rigg
The Slumflower, author
8:00 pm
9 Mar 2019 - 9 Mar 2019
8:00 pm | 9 Mar 2019 - 9 Mar 2019
Talks & Topics
Gender Politics & Equality
Consider love, life and self-worth with award-winning blogger Chidera Eggerue, aka The Slumflower
Consider love, life and self-worth with award-winning blogger Chidera Eggerue, aka The Slumflower
Unavailable
Angie Thomas, author
7:00 pm
12 Mar 2019 - 12 Mar 2019
7:00 pm | 12 Mar 2019 - 12 Mar 2019
Literature
Spoken word & Live literature
The bestselling author of The Hate U Give presents her second novel, On the Come Up
The bestselling author of The Hate U Give presents her second novel, On the Come Up
Night photo of  Simpang Semanggi, Jakarta

Free

Free

8:00 pm
14 Mar 2019 - 14 Mar 2019
8:00 pm | 14 Mar 2019 - 14 Mar 2019
Literature
Poetry
Venture beyond the pantun with this line-up of celebrated Indonesian poets
Venture beyond the pantun with this line-up of celebrated Indonesian poets
Valeria Luiselli, author
7:30 pm
19 Mar 2019 - 19 Mar 2019
7:30 pm | 19 Mar 2019 - 19 Mar 2019
Literature
Spoken word & Live literature
Lose yourself in the powerful new novel by the award-winning author of The Story of My Teeth
Lose yourself in the powerful new novel by the award-winning author of The Story of My Teeth

Pages

literature & poetry highlights

Leïla Slimani: Adèle

Image Credit 
Catherine Hélie ©Editions Gallimard
Leïla Slimani, writer
4 Feb
Literature
Spoken word & Live literature
See the author of Lullaby in an exclusive UK appearance before the publication of her new book
25 Feb
Literature
Spoken word & Live literature
The Man Booker winning author launches the first novel in his Dark Star trilogy
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Relive special moments from this year’s festival with these podcasts
podcast
Listen to a special podcast, recorded live at 2018’s London Literature Festival