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Weekend Extra: From readings to book clubs, there’s a wealth of great writing to listen to online

Poetry Society Podcast

The 111-year old society founded to further an ‘appreciation of poetry’ has a podcast with poets discussing their craft and methods, and reciting poetry, as well as a YouTube channel if you prefer to watch readings by the likes of Benjamin Zephaniah (main picture), Hollie McNish and Dizraeli.,


Launched long before lockdown, My Virtual Literary Festival aims to make the joy of books available to all via free online talks with writers. Every Wednesday, MYVLF hosts themed panels with writers and this week’s is Historical Fiction at 7pm with Gill Thompson, Nikki Marmery, Neil Blackmore and Maggie Brookes. Elsewhere you can watch authors, including Maggie O’Farrell (pictured) and Richard Russell (XL Recordings) discussing their books.

The Show Must Go Online

Actor and director Robert Myles has conceived a brilliant and slightly bonkers weekly series, reading the complete plays of Shakespeare in chronological order. The readings take place on Zoom, are streamed live on YouTube (Wednesdays 7pm), and feature 20 or so actors, with games and challenges to take part in. It acts as a shop window for theatre talent, whose income has vanished. Donations welcome.

London Dreamtime

London Dreamtime is a renegade storytelling and live music series, run by Vanessa Woolf and George Hoyle, usually taking place in atmospheric, interesting locations, such as cemeteries after dark, or derelict housing estates before demolition. Now online, they team up with Portals Of London on Saturday for other-worldly stories based around the capital’s intriguing nooks and crannies.

Sonnet a Day

Sir Patrick Stewart (above) is doing his bit for lockdown and treating us by reciting a Shakespeare sonnet every day and posting to his Twitter account. He’s been doing this daily since March 21 and with the Bard having penned 154 sonnets, the national treasure will be going for a few months yet.

Dialogue Book Lounge

The trailblazing publisher focusing on under-represented LGBTQI+, disability, working class and BAME audiences and writers, has a weekly virtual book club in partnership with Foyles. Every Thursday at 8pm on Instagram Live, kick back on the Book Lounge with authors reading from their books before opening up the floor to questions. This Thursday, it’s Ben Halls, with Season Butler (pictured) Mitchell S Jackson, Irenosen Okojie and Lauren Wilkinson to follow for the rest of May.

The Penguin Podcast

The weekly podcast for the publishing giant is hosted by Nihal Arthanayake and Katy Brand, who interview guests — mostly Penguin authors — about four objects that mean something to them. Think of it as a twist on Desert Island Discs. Recent guests have included Malorie Blackman, Bernardine Evaristo (pictured) George Monbiot and Anne Enright.

BookBound 2020

The brand spanking new, and hastily arranged, free virtual book fest Bookbound 2020, in association with leading literary journal Wasafari, is filling a much-needed hole for bookworms with readings and conversations. Tune in via YouTube to see live and recorded events with writers and thinkers including Nikesh Shukla (pictured), Helen Zaltzman, Lola Olufemi, Sarah Perry, David Lammy, and many more. It’s raising money for mental health charity Mind. Today to May 3,

Have You Heard George’s Podcast?

George is George the Poet, and his award-winning podcast is like no other. He effortlessly travels from the personal, such as growing up in social housing in London, to asking big questions around Grenfell, criminal justice and school exclusions. Much is delivered in rhyming verse, as distinctive as George’s voice.

Salon Book Club Live

Salon is live-streaming Book Club Live events on Sundays at 7.30pm. This weekend it’s Hallie Rubenhold, author of The Five: The Untold Lives Of The Women Killed By Jack The Ripper. Comedian Sara Pascoe (pictured) will be discussing her book, Sex Power Money, on May 31.