Hay Festival 2021 – Religion

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Event 9

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Michael Rosen and Jim Down talk to Rachel Clarke

Life, Death and the NHS

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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Writer/performer Michael Rosen shares his experience from the edge of life, as he battled Covid-19, in a life-affirming collection of poetry and words: Many Different Kinds of Love: A Story of Life, Death and the NHS. He reflects on the trauma and identity shift of being critically ill, the caring community of neighbours, loved ones, and NHS staff, who brought him back.

Jim Down, in his book, Life Support:Diary of an ICU Doctor on the Frontline of the Covid Crisis, says that life and death decisions are an everyday occurrence for a doctor running an intensive care unit, but nothing had prepared him for the events of spring 2020. He recounts how he and his colleagues transformed their hospital and ultimately faced down the biggest challenge in the history of the NHS. Told with warmth, honesty and humour, it is a moving testament to the everyday heroism of the NHS staff in a global crisis.
Rachel Clarke is a palliative care doctor who witnessed the courage of patients and NHS staff and, for all the bleakness and fear, found that people rose to their best, upon facing the worst, as a microbe laid waste to the population. Her book, Breathtaking, draws on testimony from nursing acute and intensive care colleagues, as well as patients. She concludes that this age of contagion has inspired a profound attentiveness to, and gratitude for, what matters most in life.

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Event 37

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Deborah Levy talks to Lisa Appignanesi

Real Estate

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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The final instalment of Levy's 'Living Autobiography' series is a thought-provoking and intimate meditation on home and the spectres that haunt it. With her characteristic wit and acute insights, she crafts a searing examination of womanhood and ownership. Her possessions, real and imagined, push us as readers to question our cultural understanding of belonging and belongings and to consider the value of a woman's intellectual and personal life. Blending personal history, gender politics, philosophy, and literary theory, Real Estate is a compulsively readable narrative. Lisa Appignanesi is a writer, Chair of the Royal Society of Literature and a former president of English PEN.

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Event 56

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

The Reverend Richard Coles in conversation with Julia Samuel

The Madness of Grief

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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Whether it’s pastoral care for the bereaved, discussions about the afterlife with parishioners, or being called out to perform the last rites, death is part of a clergyman's routine. But when Reverend Richard Coles’ life partner died unexpectedly just before Christmas 2019, much about death took him by surprise: the volume of ‘sadmin’ you have to do, the simple pain of typing a text message to your partner – then remembering they are gone. In time, things do get better, and the Reverend’s deeply personal account of living through grief – and the lessons he has learnt along the way – resonate with anyone who has lost a loved one. He talks to psychotherapist Julia Samuel, author of This Too Shall Pass.

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Event 99

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Isabel Allende in conversation with Sophie Hughes

Hay Festival Digital Querétaro presents: The Soul of a Woman

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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The great Chilean writer discusses her lifelong feminism and hard-won life lessons – "When I say that I was a feminist in kindergarten, I am not exaggerating". Her new book is a wise, warm, defiant manifesto, in which she calls for the need to live one’s old age to the full: "My story is told in every year I have lived and every wrinkle I have”. She talks to translator and editor Sophie Hughes.

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Event 137

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Frank Skinner talks to Marcus Brigstocke

A Comedian's Prayer Book

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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God is a tough audience as far as audible response is concerned, but at least you don't have to explain the references. In this collection of 'prayers', the comedian, broadcaster and radio host lays bare his convictions, questions, fears and doubts – all presented in an eavesdropper-friendly form. Hell, Judgement, atheism, money, faith and the X-Men all feature: it's a bit like reading the Bible, except you only get one side of the conversation, and all the jokes are left in. Is there a place for comedy in prayer? If there’s a place for comedy in life, there’s a place for comedy in prayer.

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