Internationally acclaimed Poet Lemn Sissay OBE lights up the Spread the Word Literary Festival

6th October, 2022

The Waterside Theatre’s inaugural literary festival, ‘Spread the Word’ is now on at various venues across the Northwest until Saturday 8th October 2022, supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and Derry City & Strabane District Council.

Ray Hall, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Lemn Sissay and Iain Barr, Waterside Theatre on stage at the Waterside Theatre.
Pictured: Ray Hall, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Lemn Sissay and Iain Barr, Waterside Theatre

‘Spread the Word’ is a week-long multi-disciplinary, multi-platform, multi-age, cross-community literary festival that highlights the importance of reading, writing and literature. The Festival has a unique and wide-ranging programme of events that engages all members of our multicultural community, from the mainstream to the marginalised, and attract a wide range of professional writers from across Ireland, the UK and beyond to attend in person or virtually.

Internationally acclaimed, award-winning Poet, playwright and broadcaster, Lemn Sissay, performed to a packed house earlier this week as part of the Festival. Lemn who was the official poet of the 2012 London Olympics read from his best-selling memoir, My Name is Why, a powerful book about neglect, determination and hope.

Iain Barr, Chief Executive, Waterside Theatre, said

“This is the first of what we hope will become a permanent annual literary festival for the region and features a number of highly anticipated events and workshops with Mammy Banter, the marvellous Lemn Sissay OBE, PJ Lynch, Lucy Caldwell and Time for Crime with Garbhán Downey, Claire Allan & Brian McGilloway and much more!

There is something for everyone, with storytelling for the young and old with local storyteller Liz Weir, The Makeyuppers Gemma Walker- Farren & Sorcha Shanahan. There are also artistic development opportunities available through our Comic Book workshops and Memoir workshops. We even have Ekphrastic Writing inspired by the weeklong exhibition of former Laureate na nÓg PJ Lynch’s Pilgrims, Princesses and Beardy Old Men! We’ve been delighted with the audience reaction so far and look forward to welcoming more people to the festival throughout this week and weekend.”

Ray Hall, Board Member at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland added,

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted and proud to support the Waterside Theatre’s first-ever Spread The Word Literary Festival, thanks to National Lottery players. This is a significant Festival which has attracted some of the biggest names in literature to Derry-Londonderry, a city which is world-famous for its strong links to literature, music and culture. The team at Waterside Theatre has curated a great programme, and I am really looking forward to spending time with internationally acclaimed writers as well local talents. Congratulations to everyone involved in presenting this impressive literature festival - please come see it, it’s great!”

Remaining Spread the Word events this week will feature Nicola Pierce, Time for Crime with Claire Allan, Brian McGilloway and Garbhán Downey, plus renowned illustrator PJ Lynch, and an event with Dr. Hilary McCollum, Paul Maddern, Mícheál McCann and Daire Ní Chanáin, celebrating the writing of LGBTQIA+ authors plus much more. To view the full programme visit