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Longfella brings poetry and punchlines to Rochdale’s Literature feast

Press release   •   Jul 09, 2014 15:13 BST

One of the UK’s most renowned performance poets has been confirmed on the line up for this year’s Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival.

Tony Walsh, or ‘Longfella’ as he is also known, is quite literally a giant of the performance poetry scene.  On Sunday October 26 he’ll be reading from his recent book – ‘Sex & love & rock & roll’ – described as musical poems which soundtrack our lives, brimming with northern warmth and humour.

Tony, who performs at packed out venues and festival tents around the UK, is set to be a big draw in Rochdale.  His work has been published internationally and he’s a multiple award winner, including being the current Manchester Literature Festival Comedy Slam Champion.

With a direct, accessible style, his acclaimed live set takes audiences on a rock and rollercoaster ride from comedy to the deadly serious.  A regular on television and radio, Tony’s trademark mix of intimacy and controversy, comedy and tragedy has been stunning audiences from grass-roots poetry gigs to international literature festivals for the last 10 years.

Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival runs from Friday 24 to Sunday 26 October, with a feast of events covering drama, comedy, dance, music, theatre, films, visual arts and children’s shows. 

Councillor Neil Emmott, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and Neighbourhoods, said:

“Tony is a really entertaining poet to watch live, proudly flying the flag for exciting new poetry, so it’s going to be fantastic to welcome him to Rochdale for our second Literature and Ideas Festival.”

Tony said he’s thrilled with the reception his new book received and loves performing it live:

“My poetry is rooted in my Manchester upbringing and has always gone down well with Rochdale audiences. Whether you love poetry or think that it's not for you, I'm sure that you'll find something to make you laugh, or even cry in my poems. Rochdale’s new Central Library and this festival are both excellent and I can't wait to share my poems and meet up with Rochdale friends, old and new.”

Longfella joins the line up alongside the previously announced singer/songwriter Lucy Spraggan, comedian Dave Spikey, television presenter Bill Turnbull, author Chrissie Manby, poet Ian McMillan and writer Jackie Kay. 

The festival will include guest speakers, authors, writers and local arts organisations and is aimed at encouraging more people to engage in reading and philosophy. It will include events at venues in Rochdale town centre and boroughwide, aimed at all ages.

More authors, acts, performers and workshops will be confirmed later this month. 

The festival is due to the generosity of Annie and Frank Maskew, a Rochdale couple who shared a passion for reading and thinking, and originally met in Rochdale Library. They left a sum of money to be used on resources and events related to literature and philosophy to ensure classic works are available for future generations.

For information about appearing at the festival or getting involved in other ways, email

For festival updates on Twitter connect with @RochdaleLitFest

The festival is organised by Rochdale Borough Council, funded by the Maskew Bequest.

For more information on this story please contact Mark Roberts on 01706 924761 or email

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