The buzzing hub of creativity celebrating the spoken word, WOMAD’s World of Words is back for 2018 and positively brimming with powerful poetry, fascinating talks, lively discussions, performances and more.

Where else in the world can you lie in the sun in the lush Wiltshire countryside and discuss some of your favourite books with the authors themselves? WOMAD Book Club is back for 2018 with three fascinating and thought-provoking books; Nigerian author and singer Chibundu Onuzo opens up on her book ‘Welcome to Lagos’ and will be treating audiences to a singing performance, Anbara Salam talks ‘Things Bright and Beautiful’ her debut novel set on a small island in the South Pacific island where all it not quite as it seems, and Sri Lankan artist and writer Roma Tearne discusses ‘The White City’, her most recent novel that explores what it is like to be a migrant and a child of a migrant in a time of global crisis.

Musician Aeham Ahmed’s story is one of both pain and hope. The pianist will speak about his upbringing in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, where he would play to try and bring a little hope and joy to people’s lives, and how a ban on music led to his piano being burnt in front of him, before fleeing to Germany where he now lives. His inspirational and thought-provoking life story lays the foundations for what will no doubt be a beautiful performance on the Ecotricity stage.

Turning adversity into humour is no mean feat, but comedian and writer Jess Thom, aka Touretteshero is the master, and discusses with the WOMAD crowd what it’s like to be an unpredictable wordsmith and her plan to change the world one tic at a time, as well as celebrating the creativity of Tourettes.  Actor James Rowland performs “Revelations”  his new storytelling show about love, faith and trying to do the right thing, before taking it to the Edinburgh festival later this summer.

Jamaica’s Alpha Boys School has cemented itself in reggae music history; the children’s home with a musical training program overseen by a jazz-loving nun has produced some musical legends, and reggae DJ Wrongtom talks to Adam Reeves who has written a book on the subject together with one of the school’s former students Basil Hylton.  Celebrating more music from around the world, phenomenal supergroup LADAMA will share their stories as the four women, each from a different country, will discuss how they harness the music from their homelands, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and the US, to create their rich and unique sound.

Delicious Magazine will be recording its popular monthly Podcast at WOMAD this year, with Gilly Smith talking to some of the festival’s amazing international food traders about their products, projects and promises, whilst the wonderful One Track Minds invites four special guests discuss the one song that changed their lives in a brilliant mash up of Desert Island Discs and TED talks. BBC Radio 4 will host a recording of Four Thought, where festival-goers can hear four thought provoking speakers air their thoughts on what interests them most.

In Blue Peter’s 60th anniversary year, we’re joined by actress, television presenter and writer Janet Ellis who has just written her first adult novel ‘The Butcher’s Hook’, and will be taking audiences through the trials and tribulations of the publishing process.   Anthony Anaxagorou takes on the establishment with his powerful, moving words and will tell WOMAD his story of how he went from security guard and delivery driver to an established poet and writer.

In the modern world, written notes and letters are a rarity and authors Jo Nadin and Rachel Hamilton celebrate these lost relics with The Dying Art of Letter Writing, discussing what letters mean to them, sharing their own ones they’ve kept over the years, how future generations will miss out on these memories now modern technology has taken over and what we can do to keep the art alive.  WOMAD-ers can tickle their tastebuds with The Chocolate Revolution as star of Channel 4’s “Willie’s Wonky Chocolate Factory’ Willie Harcourt-Cooze takes audiences on a journey of discovery through the great single estate cacaos – the fine wines of the chocolate world – while hearing about his incredible story of how he came to be a world-renowned chocolate maker.

More big hitters include insights into mindfulness and meditation from Buddhist monk Gelong, Thubten,a panel discussed hosted by journalist Serena Kutchinky asking Can We Really Live Plastic Free?,  a talk with Ethiopian songstress Meklit on her musical inspirations, the Sunday Papers panel with journalist and writer Oliver Bullough and an inspiring conversation with Team UnLimbited, the incredible team who create prosthetic arms for children around the world from their garden shed in Swansea.

Celebrating the spoken word in every shape and form, The Hip Yak Poetry Shack boasts a fabulous line-up with headliners including the multi award winning Alice Oswald, who is currently BBC Radio 4’s Poet-in-Residence, as well as the ever-popular Dizraeli with a whole host of new material.  And with poets Sean Hill, Joelle Taylor, Birdspeed, Desree Gumbs-Carty, Matt Harvey and many more, there’s something for everyone on the poetry stage this year.

Our bookshelf of Human Books comes fully stacked with new titles this year so that festival-goers can check out a book with one of the WOMAD librarians and sit down for a half hour chat in the shade of Charlton Park’s beautiful arboretum.

WOMAD are also delighted to welcome independent bookshop “Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights” into the World of Words this year.  The team there are always ready for book-related chatter and advice and are welcoming all our visiting authors who will be signing copies of their books.

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