Video: Author Louis de Bernières reads poetry at the launch of the Breckland Book Festival

Author and poet Louis de Bernières launching the third Breckland Book Fesitval at Watton library. Photo: Bill Smith Author and poet Louis de Bernières launching the third Breckland Book Fesitval at Watton library. Photo: Bill Smith

Thursday, February 27, 2014
8:41 AM

Literary legend Louis de Bernières read from his life-long catalogue of poetry to launch the third annual Breckland Book Festival.

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The author, best known for writing the international best-seller Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, said he was a poet at heart and had only become a novelist “by accident”.

He read work from his first ever collection of verse, called: “Imagining Alexandria: Poems in Memory of CP Cavafy”.

But he also entertained an appreciative audience at Watton Library with other poems written throughout his life, expressing emotions ranging from melancholic reflections on former loves to descriptions of the joy brought to him by his two children.

“I have brought my entire life’s collection of poetry with me tonight,” he said.

“I always thought I was going to be a poet. When I first started writing I was told I needed an agent. I sent some poetry to an agent, and she said: ‘I don’t do poetry, send me some prose instead’. So I did, and it was published, and I became a novelist by accident.”

An accomplished musician, Mr de Bernières also plays the flute, clarinet, guitar, and the mandolin – but he apologised that his scheduled musical performance at the library could not go ahead because of an injury to his hand.

Last night’s event marked the start of the Breckland Book Festival, which will bring a diverse programme of literary, poetry and story-telling events to libraries in Dereham, Attleborough, Watton, Thetford and Swaffham throughout March.

The festival is organised by Creative Arts East and funded by Breckland District Council.

Samantha Patel of Creative Arts East, said: “We are supporting our local libraries and introducing new audiences to literature events. It is brilliant to have Louis de Bernières here – he was our patron in the first year, and his involvement helps give us more recognition as a serious festival.”

Michael Wassell, leader of Breckland District Council, said: “It is also to re-emphasise the importance of culture and reading in a community, whether we purchase a book or use our local library. I am delighted that Breckland District Council can support the wellbeing of its residents through festivals like this.”

For more information on the festival, see www.creativeartseast.co.uk/live/whatson.asp or contact Karen Kidman on 01953 713390 or

karen@creativeartseast.co.uk.

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