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Crossing Borders

Writing on the Wall’s WoWFest18 - Crossing Borders was a powerful and insightful programme of discussions, performances, workshops, talks and presentations that celebrated the diversity, social activism and stories about Crossing Borders from Liverpool and across the globe. Taking place in venues across the city for the month of May, delivering 45 events, we brought together writers, performers, journalists, poets, novelists, activists, commentators, broadcasters, academics and communities.

WoWFest is amplifying a the voices that need to be heard. They aim to empower and connect the writer with the audience is which is where the ideas can be explored face to face. This is how it should be! - Stephen James Smith 

The WoW festival is always brilliant, inspiring and thought-provoking. Every year there is a wealth of debate, discussion, celebration and exploration of the issues of the day. It's always varied and interesting - and brilliantly organised. - Bidisha

With the impact of Brexit hotly contested and unbridled Trumpery across the Atlantic, Crossing Borders featured literature, arts, ideas and practice that transgressed and challenged accepted ways of thinking. Crossing Borders explored messages of togetherness, hope and inclusivity by building stories and experiences around the thoughts, ideas and hopes to our communities for the society and identity they wish to build for themselves and each other in the wake of Brexit. The festival also featured Building Blocks to Freedom, WoW's community led collaboratively built Wall to trump Trump's Wall. In place of tightening border controls and increasing xenophobia, Building Blocks to Freedom displayed the beauty of multiculturalism. 

The mix of different writers, events and other activities, all rooted in the community of Liverpool, is what makes WoWFest such a fantastic festival to be part of. The conversations we had both during the event and in the pub afterwards will live long in the memory. Thanks to the whole team for everything they do, both during the festival and throughout the year. Liverpool and literature are all the richer because of it. - Paul Scraton 

We received anonymous evaluations from audience members at the end of each of our events. 

Artistic Development 

Audience Development

After attending for my first time this year, WoW has fast found its place as one of my favourite ever festivals - its as engaging and entertaining as it is crucial - Yomi Adegoke

Staff and volunteers for Building Blocks to Freedom
Our feature activity this year was the construction of our installation wall, Building Blocks To Freedom, that popped-up in Church Street for two special performances with LowKey and our Light Night open mic. We created stunning narrative designs with the help of artist Izzy O’Rourke, and the people of Liverpool who came to tell their stories.We welcomed a distinctive array of international guests including Carmen Bugan, Mourid Barghouti, Marcello Di Cintio, Chuma Nwokolo, Stephen James Smith, Eamonn McCann, Radio Django Berlin and Amineh Abou Kerech.


WoW is a thought-provoking and heart-warming festival, where words delight and instruct in equal measure.  I felt privileged to have the first event of the 2018 season and to meet the passionate, committed and generous organizers. - Carmen Bugan

We hosted significant national guests too, such as Akala, Benjamin Zephaniah, Robert Webb, Jordan Stephens, Shami Chakrabarti, Richard Blair (George Orwell’s son), Kate Evans, Bidisha, LowKey, Reni Eddo Lodge, Caroline Moran, Beatrix Campbell, Paul Farley and highlighted local artists James Rice, Andy Grant, Nina McCallig and projects such as the From Pitt Street to Granby publication, our Pulp Idol 2018 competition and the array of local artists and WoW project participants supporting our festival guests and our performance opportunities at Light Night and Superheroes & Superstars, a special day of activity for children and young people.


A stimulating, radical, accessible ideas space which doesn't take itself too seriously. WoWFest is a great event which I'm so pleased to be part of. - Kate Evans

Staff at final WoWFest18 event

Thanks to all those who made WoWFEST 18 – Crossing Borders such a successful         
festival – our funders, Arts Council England, Liverpool City Council and Culture Liverpool, the writers, artists and commentators who took part, our wonderful volunteers, staff, trustees, and of course, our brilliant audiences. We look forward to getting your feedback on WoWFEST 18, and your support for our next festival in 2019.

It was such an honour to be part of WoWFest18. It is a truly diverse festival run brilliantly by a team that is so clearly passionate about making connections between writers and readers from all kinds of backgrounds without exception. Many other literary festivals could learn a thing or two from WoWFest! I'd love to be involved again if they'll have me. - Sharon Dougal


Tags: literary, literary festival, wowfest2018, reni eddo lodge, akala, lily allen, benjamin zephaniah, mourid barghouti, robert webb