What’s your connection with Nottingham and its written and spoken words?
Nottingham became my home for three years, during my university degree ‘Creative and Professional Writing’. I didn’t get to see much of Nottingham, or its beautiful park campus on the day of my interview. I made up for that in September, and the red brick town building, the water-sculpture in the Victoria centre (which has since disappeared, where to, I do not know) and the bookshops. Now I live and work in Nottingham, but I spent most of my three years looking for creative opportunities.
I don’t mean for this blog to become a list or rant, but I have realised that I have met a great many people furthering creative interests in Nottingham, and with this opportunity, I’d like to thank and celebrate them. So, in no particular order:
The brain-child of Deborah ‘Debris’ Stevenson, this is a spoken word poetry group I have been to twice and now follow their progress. They’re loud and they get results. Many of their members have now published poetry, and they are a jewel in the busy theaters, cafes and performance spaces.
Pewter Rose Press
Anne and her husband run a publishing company, which I was lucky enough to intern with for a short time in addition to my studies. Together, we edited, produced covers and typeset books. I’ve also been to Lowdam festival and enjoyed participating in a book reading.
Another internship, with the Sci-fi and Fantasy centre of Nottingham’s publishers. I learnt a lot in the days I spent with them, writing blogs, posting books across the word and seeing what it’s really like to work in-house at a book publisher’s. I don’t want to scare anyone, but ‘I’ll be back’.
I have had the privilege of writing for Left Lion, a free culture magazine. Distributed in many coffee/book shops, it’s a lovely excuse to get a cup of tea and enjoy an hour in contented creative reflection. With LL, I’ve done several interviews in Waterstones. How else could I have interviewed David Almond (a hero of mine), and fantasy masters Rachael Caine and Peter V. Brett? Let me know when the next author comes to town! It turns out I seem to be rather good at interviews (if I say so myself.)
Who knew that just down the road in Leicester, there is an annual alternative fiction festival? I volunteered along with Elaine Aldred a while ago, and really must attend as a participant. That year was fantastic. Readings, radio sessions, free books, panels, question times… and did I mention a whole group of Dr Who writers?
The final part of this question bleeds into the next, so here it is – What do you love about Nottingham and its creative scene right now?
I’d been encouraged to join Nottingham Writer’s Studio for a while, but my first involvement was in the design of the first Festival of Words’ brochure. Pippa Hennessy and I worked to produce a black and white program with a colour cover. I put mock stitching and lace into the design, celebrating the history of Nottingham’s artisan history.
Then somehow it was suggested that I run a class. As I was already taking a ‘Writing in the Community’ class at university and creating a workshop, I had a whole room of guinea pigs at my disposal. ‘Writing Comics’ has now been taught in Nottingham University, the Festival (held in Nottingham Trent’s town campus) and New College Nottingham.
Now I am a full member of Nottingham Writer’s Studio. I’ve offered my help with this year’s festival, and haven’t (yet) been called upon… hint hint. It’s early days, and in the mean time, I’m going to social writer’s gatherings, and experimenting with my own writing.
How would you describe Nottingham to a visitor coming to the Festival of Words?
A maze. A labyrinthine tangle of tea shops and brilliant nights out. It helps to have a guide, as I did – or to plan out your outings with the help of leaflets and Writing East Midlands’ website, which seems to capture most (but not all, there’s just so much) of what’s going on.
There will be a smiling flood of volunteers (most of which are likely to be poets and writers) who can direct you all over town to the many events. Don’t be afraid to ask. Dive in.
Edit: My hint seems to have been noticed, and I’m in conversation with some of the lovely people organising the festival about this year’s program design. But what next? Here are two nominations for the blog hop to continue- Sue Barsby on http://thegeriatricmother.wordpress.com/ and Phil Lowe on http://philloweactor.blogspot.co.uk/ who are both involved in Notthingham’s creative scene (in different ways.) Perhaps this is the great thing about the festival of words, and indeed, this blog hop. The creative energy in Nottingham is not only strong, but varied. It proves to me that despite my involvement with NWS, there is much more to see.