EVENTS

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The Third Bath Literature Festival takes place from today to 2 March at the Bath Guildhall and other venues around the city. All events below are at the Guildhall unless otherwise stated.

Bath Festivals Box Office, 2 Lower Church St, Abbey Green, Bath BA1 1NL (01225-463362)

CHANCE MEETINGS

The theme of this year's festival is "Chance", but a sparkling line-up has more to do with careful planning than a fluke. Along with bookish celebrities there's Bookends, a new initiative which draws together Bath- based literary types for interactive events at venues around the city. Today, for example, you might like to try your hand at the Japanese Haiku workshop (2pm-5pm pounds 5, Museum of East Asian Art). Then you can have your efforts judged by the Bath Live Poets Society and guest poets (Wed 26 Feb 6.30-8pm pounds 5).

NOVEL IDEAS

The festival kicks off with today's opening talk by Booker Prize winner Graham Swift (2.30- 3.30pm pounds 5), who discusses "Luck" and reads from his most recent work, Last Orders.

Other star appearances include Russell Hoban (tomorrow, 8.30-9.30pm pounds 5), the author of the dystopian Riddley Walker, and Terry Waite (today 8.30- 9.30pm pounds 8) reflecting on his ordeal as a Middle East hostage.

Speaking of revelations, the Independent's own Bridget Jones unveils her true identity this afternoon when Helen Fielding reads from her collection of comic columns (4.30-5.30pm, pounds 4)

Best of all, perhaps, is the panel discussion between Beryl Bainbridge, Jonathan Coe and Nicholas Royle (Mon 24 8-9.30pm pounds 6) on the interplay of chance and humour in the novel - a dark vein explored recently by Bainbridge in her novel Every Man For Himself, about the sinking of the Titanic.

POETRY

Tomorrow, there's a rare opportunity to hear David Gascoyne (4.30-5.30pm pounds 5), the last of the great English Surrealist poets. And if that's a little rarefied for your tastes, why not enjoy the wordplay of Liverpool's finest: Adrian Henri and Willy Russell (Thur 27 8-10pm, The Pavilion, pounds 9). Henri is a freelance poet, painter and performer while Russell's famous for knocking out the likes of Blood Brothers. The pair of horribly talented polymaths will be offering up an evening of poems, songs, scenes and stories.

MUSIC

Lyrics can be literature too, particularly when you're riffing along to the words of Kate Pullinger, co-author of The Piano. Next Saturday sees the heavily side-burned Billy Jenkins and his Blues Collective in "Green Felt Jungle", a devised piece set around a blackjack table. (1 Mar 10-11.30pm pounds 7)

GEORGE MELLY

The old raconteur rolls up on Wednesday (26 Feb 8.30- 9.30pm pounds 8) to deliver his thoughts on art and chaos in a show called "The Certainty of Hazard". You'll be lucky to get a ticket.

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