‘Letters Remember’ Light Night (6 Feb)

light nightLight Night is without a doubt the best event in Nottingham’s increasingly busy calendar. This year I’m putting on an event at the Nottingham Writers’ Studio that takes Light Night back to its original routes by opening up creative spaces to the public and inviting guests in. The event is loosely themed around letters and memories and is an opportunity to learn about some exciting local projects that will take us from the tunnels of Welbeck Abbey to Uganda.

Each talk will be a maximum of ten minutes so that we can finish bang on time and get out and enjoy other events. I’d expect this event to be rammed because the talks are so diverse, but you never can quite predict who’ll turn up in Nottingham. There will be refreshments available on the night and the opportunity to carry on discussions afterwards. And yes, you can bring a light sabre along with you if you want to…

That’s enough rattle, here’s what you’ll get for giving up an hours worth of oxygen.

prt_400x268_1363110975SUNIL SHAHUganda Stories is both a subjective journey to recollect the past and a study in photography’s documentary potential to reassemble history. In the current New Art Exchange exhibition, Sunil Shah explores very personal themes linked to his family’s roots and heritage as Ugandan Asians, and offers wider narratives around exile, displacement and dispossession.

loudwalk_v-nightingale_mg_93581Letters to the City In 2013 Nottingham Contemporary invited the artist Polly Brannan to join The Loudspeaker project to develop a piece of work that would extend the project into the city and bring the women’s voices to the wider public. The result is the beautifully powerful and poignant ‘Letters To The City’. I met Polly a few times when she started the project (she’s based in Liverpool and wanted to know about local female literary figures) so I’m really looking forward to this one.

Dawn of the Unread is my baby and the reason this website has been given the cold shoulder recently. One of our featured literary figures for this Notts-based graphic novel is the 5th Duke of Portland, an eccentric aristocrat who built a vast labyrinth of tunnels under Welbeck Abbey to hide away from society. Andrew ‘Mulletproof’ Graves explores the possible reasons for this strange subterranean preoccupation, and in particular, a mysterious letter he received from his distant father years before. Larkin was right, they do fuck you up…

white dolFalse histories Matt Shelton discusses a paid opportunity for writers to fabricate histories for local craft beers he is promoting. The beers are: Ghost Rider, Twisted Genius, American Saviour and English Rebel. He will be joined by White Dolemite creator Reverend Video Matt, a master hoaxer who has created a cult around false film posters.

letterspagemainThe Letters Page Offers an alternative to the immediacy of digital culture by taking us back to the basics of communication in the form of pen, paper, envelope and stamp. This literary journal edited by NWS Patron Jon McGregor explores what letter writing means to people – and has meant since writing was invented – in their literary cultures and their personal lives.* (tbc)

No need to book places but you are advised to arrive early to get a seat. Friday 6 Feb, 2015 (6-7pm) FREE Nottingham Writers’ Studio, 25 Hockley, NG1 1FH.  


Looking forwards: The Writers’ Social

AppleMarkWhen people ask why they should cough up £60 to become a member of the Nottingham Writers Studio my answer is always the same: the monthly social. Over the years I’ve seen our patron Jon McGregor read early extracts from Even the Dogs before it went on to win the IMPAC award, listened to Alan Mahar of Tindal Street Press explain what it is he looks for in a book (and he knows having seen 12 of his first 48 books nominated for prizes), taken part in a live creation of a plot for a computer game, listened to various debates across genres and drank a fair bit of wine. This Thursday is one of the most important socials in the calendar as it’s the one where you do all the talking.

With such a diverse membership of writers it’s difficult to know whether everyone is getting what they need out of the Studio and so we need a session like this to ensure nobody is left out on the margins. Typical areas to be discussed are:

Are you happy with the location and actual space of the studio?

If you could see any author at a Word of Mouth event, who would it be?

What kind of mentoring schemes would you like to see?

Should we be working more actively to get you published?

Is membership too expensive/cheap?

Should we become more digital?

What changes could we make to the studio to improve your writing career?

Do you require more practical help, such as getting an agent?

The Studio is unique in that it is run by writers for writers. Your input in the session on Thursday could determine not only what happens in the future but how it happens. The recent Festival of Words was born out of a discussion with members at an AGM two years ago, so we’re not joking when we say your view is valued. Your wine is also important as well, as are your crisps and peanuts. So bring a few nibbles and refreshments along with you and together we’ll dare to make the Studio even better.

This is the Chair’s Blog and was originally published on the Nottingham Writers’ Studio website