The International Festival of Literature takes place from 16 May to 21 June at the Basilica of Massenzio in the Roman Forum.

The popular annual initiative celebrates the written word with a host of authors who are invited to write a text inspired by the 2012 chosen theme "Simple/Complex", as well as read an excerpt selected from a published work translated into Italian.

A total of 17 Italian and international authors plus a handful of poets will read from their work, sometimes with the aid of professional actors, and always accompanied by live music.

Some of the names that stand out this year and will probably appeal in particular to an English-speaking audience are those of Peter Cameron, Julie Otsuka, Amos Oz, Sophie Kinsella, Vanessa Diffenbaugh, Jeanette Winterson, Michael Connelly.

A novelty this year is represented by an event dedicated to Italian contemporary poetry which sees the American poet Robert Hass on stage to host ten young Italian poets who pay tribute to Italian poets who have died in the past ten years. Other novelties are represented by an online literary competition on the theme of the festival, and a tribute to Italo Calvino.

Entry is free, but tickets must be picked up at least two hours before the event begins at a specially constructed box office in Via dei Fori Imperiali, Clivio di Venere Felice.

For information tel. 060608, www.festivaldelleletterature.it.