Off the Shelf Festival of Words

Off the Shelf Festival of Words will make its return to Sheffield and South Yorkshire for October 2022.

Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to hear all you need to know for this year’s festival.

We also have a range of events from previous festivals that you can watch back on the University of Sheffield player.

Dear Sister recording: Celebrating International Women's Day

Check out all our recordings and content on our Off the Shelf series on the University of Sheffield Player here.

This International Women’s Day we are celebrating women and our sisters.


English PEN is one of the world’s oldest human rights organisations protecting the freedom to write and read. Off the Shelf Festival were one of the five national organisations invited to be part of English Pen’s celebratory programme ‘ Common Currency’ for their celebrations marking their 100th anniversary in 2021. This programme was supported by a National Lottery Project Grant from Arts Council England.


For the Dear Sister project, participants from South Yorkshire wrote a letter to a ‘sister’ – an inspirational woman in their life – responding to a letter created by workshop leader, Somali Italian writer and performer Ubah Cristina Ali Farah. The workshops took place during the Pandemic on Zoom. Sheffield writers Helen Mort, Debjani Chatterjee and Sheffield Poet Laureate Warda Yassin were also commissioned to produce creative responses on ‘sisterhood’. Women involved in the project including Helen, Debjani, Warda and some of the workshop participants shared their work at an Off the Shelf event in October 2021 and Ubah joined with a filmed message.


This is a recording of Off the Shelf 2021’s ‘Dear Sister’ event, in collaboration with English Pen.

Text in The City

Off the Shelf Festival of Words festival is one of the best known festivals in the UK. Over the years it has introduced a series of commissioned poems from lead writers, and is responsible for the Text in The City initiative – mounting poems in public places.


To celebrate this unique legacy as part of the 30th anniversary year celebrations, Off the Shelf has compiled a series of videos and audio recordings of these poems with a mix of well known actors and writers and community members from Sheffield, who perform and recite the poems that can be seen in the city today.


A montage has been drawn from the films and audio versions of the poems selected, that is released today and available to be seen on the current website. Over the coming weeks Off the Shelf will release films of four of the poems being performed and audio of the remaining five in their entirety.


View Text in the City Featured Poems

Brought to you by
University of Sheffield
Supported by
Arts Council England Sheffield Hallam University

Sponsor Off the Shelf

Introduce your company to 29,000 book lovers.

Become a sponsor

Well done to all of them! https://t.co/Sp0bRU5mJn


We're excited to welcome @frankieboyle Sheffield to discuss his hilarious and gripping crime debut novel ‘Meantime’… https://t.co/FfizwPZtJz


A day late - beautiful words https://t.co/qPNfVFDtsK


Final event for this year's festival - @GeorgeMonbiot is always worth listening to https://t.co/K7hYFaeFe0

Tell us what you think

Event feedback form