Autumn/Winter 2017-18

collage kate and jennI’m writing this the week after a very enjoyable trip up to Lancaster University, where I was a visiting writer and discussed the ethics of writing and creative nonfiction with MA students followed by a reading of my essays hosted by the excellent Jenn Ashworth (who I’ve hosted before myself, so I felt right at home.) Many thanks to Jenn and Zoe Lambert for making me feel so welcome. I also had a great day last week at Writing on the Wall‘s Writers Marketplace in Liverpool, where I spoke on a panel about how to make a living from writing.

As of this month, I’ve given up my long-term freelance role at Manchester Literature Festival, where I’ve worked on and off since 2006. I’m sad about this, but as I’ve taken on more university teaching it’s just not possible for me to continue. My time at MLF has been incredible: bringing  many wonderful writers, publishers and human beings into my life, teaching me so much about writing, and supplying countless moments of pure joy at readings and events. I’ll continue to be the Festival’s biggest supporter, and look forward to working with them again in the future.

And the future in Manchester for writing and literature suddenly looks significantly brighter — we are now living in the UK’s newest UNESCO City of Literature. It was thrilling to be part of the team that put together the successful bid, which will help us ensure that the city’s broad and diverse literary activity is celebrated and supported into the future. It’s early days yet, but we all look forward to seeing how plans develop.

Writing-wise, I’ve got a new poem in the latest edition of Irish journal The Stinging Fly, and more new work forthcoming in The Letters Page and Hotel. One of my old short stories, ‘Feral,’ originally published in Neon a couple of years ago, returned in a new form when it was featured in the new audiocast The Hillside Curation; my story begins at 29 minutes and is read by writer/host David Hartley; listen here).

I’ve joined my friend Rob Cutforth’s monthly-ish North West literary podcast, The End of All Things, as a regular co-host. This has been so much fun, especially for me, because Rob is the one who actually does all of the work, and I just turn up and talk. If you’d like to listen, head here.

I’m  performing my carol-singing pub nativity story for the third year running at The Castle Hotel on December 20th at Get Lit! It’s Christmas, a festive cabaret organised jointly by The Real Story, First Draft and Bad Language. Come along if you’re in the area, it’s sure to be a sparkly and silly and Christmassy affair.

And then? After a difficult and far too busy year I’m looking forward to a quieter winter full of writing, reading and, crucially, doing more things that have nothing to do with writing and reading.  See you in 2018.

 

 

 

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Spring/Summer 2017

Big news: I’m joining the faculty at the University of Salford as a Lecturer in Digital Journalism. I’ve been teaching there as an associate lecturer for a few years and absolutely love it. It’s an incredible time to be teaching journalism; the media landscape is changing by the minute, and never has good journalism felt more essential to the functioning of our society. I’m thrilled about this post.

After a quiet late winter that was happily full of writing, spring found me interviewing all the writers, publishers, teachers and literature folk I could scare up in the service of Manchester’s bid to become a UNESCO City of Literature.  From March through June I was based at MMU’s Manchester Writing School as a research assistant leading on the consultation that supported the bid, important and rewarding work I greatly enjoyed. Next week we publish the consultation report, written by me and colleague Martin Kratz, which explores the health of Manchester’s literature and writing ecosystem and envisions what the designation could mean for the city (I’ll post the link when it’s live. ) I think the city has a very strong application; we learn if it’s been successful on 31st October.

I had a great time performing at what turned out to be the last-ever edition of lovely Manchester live lit night First Draft; it will be sorely missed. I also loved reading new work at the  launch of my friend Tania Hershman’s  poetry collection Terms and Conditions at Waterstones, along with poet Jo Bell (picture above). I’ve published a new short story in the current edition of The Lonely Crowd, guest edited by Valerie Sirr: pick up a copy of  issue seven here, it’s full of great writing. You can read an essay I wrote about my story, Werner Herzog and writing the unseen online at The Lonely Crowd here.

Then it was right into the build-up to Manchester Literature Festival, which is fast approaching. This year it’s my privilege to be interviewing one of my very favourite authors, the Danish experimental fiction writer Dorthe Nors. I’ll also be in conversation with short fiction master Tessa Hadley over afternoon tea at the Midland, and talking with Joanna Moorhead about her new biography of Surrealist visionary Leonora Carrington, whose art and writing means a lot to me. I’ll also be compering at Hollie McNish & Jackie Hagan and our Real Story/Dead Ink event featuring essayists from timely new anthology Know Your Place: Essays on the Working Class by the Working Class. And of course I’ll be Tweeting, Instagramming, Facebooking, Blogging, E-newslettering and otherwise enjoying MLF throughout October. I can’t wait.

I’m pleased to be involved in Women’s Words Manchester: a wonderful project collecting stories from the women of the city to create an archive and print publication marking the first century of female suffrage. As part of this, I’m leading a free life writing workshop on Saturday November 4th, 2pm at Chorlton Library, and there are lots of other great workshops and events on offer. Also in November I’ll be returning to guest lecture at Edge Hill University, talking with writing students about creative nonfiction, and will be at Lancaster University the following month as a Visiting Writer. I’ll be giving a public reading there on the evening of Tuesday 5th December; more info closer to the time.

My creative nonfiction and essay writing development project The Real Story‘s firing on all cylinders right now: following a successful event and sold-out workshop with Flâneuse author Lauren Elkin, we’re bringing author and essayist Joanna Kavenna to Manchester on Tuesday 19 September. She’ll be leading a workshop on Writing the Self from 5:30-7pm, and then headlining our Real Story: Live event after, supported by essayists Lenni Sanders, John Klark and Richard V. Hirst. We’ve published some fantastic new pieces on the site recently, and we’ve enlisted Susie Stubbs, author and founding editor of Creative Tourist, as a contributing editor. We have big plans for the new year involving new partnerships and new cross-artform collaborations; stay tuned.

I’ve read some stunning books over the summer, chiefly Layli Long Soldier’s remarkable Whereas; Rebecca Solnit’s  new essay collection The Mother of All Questions, Swallowing Mercury by Wioletta Greg and Fourth Person Singular by Nuar Alsadir. This seems to be an especially fertile time for writing that sits across traditional forms, challenging inherited notions of what constitutes poetry, nonfiction prose and fiction. It’s an exciting time to be writing, and reading.

Image: Sarah Jasmon via Instagram

 

 

 

Autumn/Winter 2016-17

 

kate-at-digital-storymaking

It’s been a busy time for speaking and teaching. In August I led a workshop on blogging and telling stories with the hugely inspiring Young Women’s Trust. In September I began my third year lecturing on the International & Digital Journalism MA at the University of Salford. In October, the Manchester Literature Festival took over my life:  this year I hosted discussions with Olivia Laing (The Lonely City), Writing the North with Jenn Ashworth & Andrew Michael Hurley, and an evening with performance poets Hollie McNish and Salena Godden.

In November I was keynote speaker at the Digital Storymaking conference at Liverpool John Moores University (photo above), talking about Openstories project Rainy City Stories (2008-14), place writing  and the development of interactive story maps.  It’s lovely to see a renewal of interest in this project, which continues to be something to learn from and enjoy.

The same month, I spoke in a panel on ‘Reaching your Audience’ at the National Creative Writing Graduate Fair and visited the Edge Hill University creative writing course as a guest lecturer on the subject of writing creative nonfiction. I was also interviewed on a couple of podcasts, returning to The End of All Things to preview the 2016 Manchester Literature Festival and popping up on the deeply silly Hey Fat Roland.

I’ve also been doing lots of writing and performing. My essay ‘Dear Shadow’ was highly commended in the Words & Women Prose Competition and will appear this spring in an anthology published by Unthank Books. My short nonfiction piece ‘Lemons’, was published in the Autumn/Winter 2016 edition of Irish literary magazine Banshee, and my lyric essay ‘Casting’ was published on Entropy in December. I’m working away on a thematically-linked collection of short lyric prose pieces; a couple more of these have been accepted for publication and will appear soon.

In September I  was commissioned to write and perform new beat-inspired work by Manchester literary organisation Bad Language for an event celebrating the launch of Off Beat: Jeff Nuttall and the International Underground at the John Rylands Library. Then, in October I was invited by First Draft to write and perform a new short story as part of Darkness Knocks, a special Halloween event at Chethams Library. In November, I performed at a flash fiction stage curated by literary night Verbose at the Transitions Festival in Bury, and in December read a pub nativity story (with carols performed by the audience) at the Kulning: Winter Songs event at The Castle Hotel.

Most of my time at the moment is devoted to redeveloping Openstories’ creative nonfiction project The Real Story, which has seen a marked rise in the number of submissions, is shortly to get a new website, and has a very busy series of events planned for 2017.

Reading:  I’m hosting an event with the great Eileen Myles this month, so I’ve just read her experimental memoir Chelsea Girls and  her new collected poems, I Must be Living Twice. I’ve also hugely enjoyed Edmund White’s new biography of Angela Carter, Eimear McBride’s incandescent second novel The Lesser Bohemians and the short story collections A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin and Karate Chop/Minna Needs Rehearsal Space by Dorthe Nors.

 

Image Susi Arnott (via Twitter)

Spring/Summer 2016

kate and jess

The big news: I’m happy to say we’ve received a significant 2-year grant from Arts Council England to vastly expand The Real Story, the creative nonfiction project I run via writing organisation Openstories. We’ll be creating  a new web portal full of CNF resources for writers and teachers, expanding our successful The Real Story: Live events and editing and publishing lots more original essays on our new site. We can’t wait to get going on this! Watch this space.

Other updates: I was pleased to have a lyric essay published on minor literature[s]: The problem with blackberries. I also have a prose poem forthcoming in the next issue of Irish literary magazine Banshee. I am currently writing a fragmentary work about womanhood, the unconscious and memory.

I was hired to edit a piece by novelist Jenn Ashworth for the fascinating Tall Tales, a national touring programme bringing together the work of 17 international women artists who employ the playful use of storytelling techniques in the making of their work. Jenn’s story, a hybrid work combining elements of fiction and nonfiction, was a commission responding to the work of artist Alison Erika Forde. It’s wonderful writing and was a pleasure to work on – I’ll post the link here when it’s live.

The 2016 Manchester Literature Festival programme is full of treats – and it’s keeping all of us at MLF very busy in the run-up to the full launch in August. This October I’m hosting events with authors Olivia Laing, Megan Bradbury, Jessie Burton, Andrew Michael Hurley, Jenn Ashworth, Salena Godden and Hollie McNish, as well as a special MLF edition of The Real Story with Horatio Clare. I’ve also started hosting author events at Waterstones in Manchester, and had a great time talking with The Miniaturist author Jessie Burton (photo above) and food writer Sabrina Ghayour recently.

This summer I’ve been doing some writing workshops with The Vegetarian Society; getting people excited about using words more creatively in their work is always very fun and rewarding. And I’ve been reading, reading, reading: The Summer Book by Tove Jansson, the astonishing Speedboat by Renata Adler and the wonderful essay collection Findings by poet Kathleen Jamie.

 

Autumn/Winter 2015

The 10th anniversary edition of Manchester Literature Festival was a grand affair that stretched through October into November and filled the city with an eyewateringly impressive slew of poets, fictioneers, short storyists and nonfictionistas. This year I hosted more events than ever before, including (deep breath) May-Lan Tan and Mai al-Nakib, Jami Attenberg and Liza Klaussman, doing three in a day at Rising Stars Day (Louise Stern/Benjamin Wood then Mary Costello/Stuart Evers then Sunjeev Sahota/Stephen Kelman), laughing to a borderline unprofessional extent onstage with Tim Key and Jesse Armstrong and hosting two more panels at the ace Northern Lights Writers’ Conference.

These were all wonderful. But my favourite event was the in-conversation with Carrie Brownstein (above), whom I have long loved in both her Sleater-Kinney and Portlandia incarnations. Her new memoir Hunger Makes me A Modern Girl (Virago) is astonishingly good and talking with her about writing, music and being a dork was heaven. I continue to be delighted that talking to interesting people about writing I love is my job.

Our Manchester creative nonfiction project The Real Story has been cracking along, with four live events this year and a move into posting audio of the stories we publish. I’ve also been reading my own work at events all over Manchester. I’ve had three stories published in Neon, a story published and recorded on MacGuffin, and a story included in the Tapes and Tales podcast. On the nonfiction side, I’ve had an essay published in Caught by the River and another is forthcoming from Litro. I was also featured in the first End of All Things podcast talking about nonfiction, women writers, writing about sex and making a living (or not) as a writer. You can listen here.

With all this creative writing my journalistic output has slowed down somewhat. I’ve recently ended my long association with Creative Tourist, a great publication which will, I hope, continue to prosper. I continue to write occasional food and drink columns and reviews for Time Out Manchester, however.

I’ve enjoyed lecturing at Salford University on the online journalism MA this semester, where we’ve been venturing into the outer limits of digital storytelling (and even took an actual ‘field trip’ to Pomona Island. ) I’ve got a couple of guest lecturing gigs coming up, discussing writing about place with MMU’s architecture students and visiting Edge Hill’s creative writing programme to preach the gospel of creative nonfiction.  Another thing I’m preaching about to anyone who will listen are some wonderful books I’ve read lately: Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett, I Love Dick by Chris Kraus and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen. Go read them. No really, I insist.

Spring/Summer 2015

It’s been a busy time. Yeah, I know I always say that.  But come on, really, cut me some slack here:  Check out this  rundown of some of the projects I’ve been working on in the last six months (plus.) (Oh god, has it been that long since I updated this?) (Yes.)

For my own writing it’s been a pretty eventful year: I’ve read short fiction and nonfiction at lots of live literature nights. I won the last  Flashtag Short Short Story Slam in Manchester. I was commissioned to write a shory story for the brilliant Re/Place project, about the  Longford Cinema in Stretford. And I was paid to perform my fiction for the first time  at the Royal Exchange as part of the Bad Language Special FX showcase.  Three of my flash stories will be published in Neon next month.

I’ve launched a new live creative nonfiction night in Manchester, The Real Story, in conjunction with co-editor Nija Dalal-Small. We’re hoping to raise the profile of the form a bit in the Northwest, and are working with some brilliant writers to polish pieces for performance and publication.

I’ve become an associate lecturer on the Digital Journalism MA at the University of Salford, and  will be a visiting lecturer on the  Creative Writing course at Edge Hill University on the subject of creative nonfiction.

I’ve continued to work with the mighty Manchester Literature Festival, doing a number of things including copywriting, social media, digital content and hosting events and talks with authors. Our tenth anniversary festival is coming up October 12-25, and it’s a corker.

I’ve appeared on panels at the Writer’s Toolkit writing conference in Birmingham and Page Talk young writers’ festival in the West Midlands, hosted the Northern Lights Writers Conference in Sale and spoken about careers in writing at The University of Cumbria.

I’ve delivered writing/social media workshops for Cancer Research UK,  Bolton @Home and Castlefield Gallery and I’m working on a series of flash fiction workshops for young people involved in the Text Adventure Time project taking place in libraries across the north. Here’s a blog post I wrote for that.

I continue to work as a freelance journalist, doing restaurant reviews and occasional features for Creative Tourist and have recently started writing a regular food and drink column for Time Out. I added Vice’s food site Munchies to my publication list, among other new clients. Here’s one of my favourite recent pieces: Ten things you learn when you move to Manchester. Yeah, it’s a listicle. I hate listicles, so I tried to make it as non-listicleish as I could. Did I mention I hate listicles?

 

Winter 2013/14

kate feld with neil gaiman

So I skipped summer again. I’ve just checked back through my archive and I haven’t managed to write a quarterly autumn update since 2009.  It’s no surprise given how busy my autumns usually are; most of the organisations, clients and projects I’m involved with have something big happening at that time. But it’s good to see that I’m being disorganised in a consistent way.

From Summer to Autumn was a big blur. We had the Manchester Literature Festival. I got to meet one of my literary heroes, Neil Gaiman, who was just as kind as he could be (that’s us up there. This is the only time I have ever had my photo taken with a famous person, and my friend Sarah Jane ambushed me into it, and I felt like a dork but I’m secretly glad she did). The Blog North Awards was capped off by a funny and moving new story from one of my favourite Manchester writers, Chris Killen. The literature fest was genuinely the biggest and best ever, and if you want to get a taster of what happened you can scroll through our little Storify page. For a more detailed account of what I actually do as MLF’s Digital Engagement Coordinator, here’s a case study about our digital marketing campaign.

Now, this time of year is my favourite. I can do stuff like attend conferences (like The Story in London next month), take online writing courses (thanks LitReactor) and plan and deliver a writer development programme for bloggers and emerging writers with Openstories. I’m working on that right now. The best bit is hearing all the good things that befell writers after winning Blog North Awards. Books published! Publishing houses started! Work commissioned! Ahhhh.

I’ve really enjoyed doing lots of work for the Arts Marketing Association on CultureHive, especially my latest project which has been to track down innovative thinkers working in libraries and get them to talk about the cool things they do, like putting books on bikes and lending out works of art.

I’ve done some social media strategy work for Greater Manchester Museums Group, who are about to launch an exciting project spreading the word about the treasures in our local museums called Our Connected History.

Openstories’ creative nonfiction project, The Real Story, has emerged from hibernation with Max Dunbar’s excellent essay about being institutionalised, Notes from the Smoking Garden.

My  workshops and speaking gigs have taken me  to Cardigan in Wales, where I led a blogging workshop at the gorgeous Do Lectures farm as part of their new workshops series, and vowed to return for Do Lectures one day. They do lots of interesting things, including publishing books. I had fun hosting and facilitating the Northern Lights Writers Conference in Sale. And I always enjoy hanging out at Castlefield Gallery in Manchester, where I led a session on blogging and social media for artists as part of their CG Associates network.

Writing: My work for Creative Tourist lately has focused mainly on restaurant reviews (recent faves include Lucha Libre and Ginger’s Comfort Emporium), but I also enjoyed writing a profile of Cumbrian art world provocateurs Grizedale Arts. I’ve also had a small essay (essaylet?) published over at Contributoria, a newly-launched site that has a fresh approach to community supported journalism. It’s about fish and chips and becoming slightly more British.

On the horizon, I’ve got  blogging workshops with Cornerhouse’s Digital Reporters this week and in Chester for WayWord festival on February 18, a panel about careers in writing at the University of Cumbria later this spring, and the launch of an exciting new identity and website for Openstories crafted by the amazing folk at Mark Studio. Shhh.

Non-work things: I’m reading Angela Carter right now and am in awe of her sharp writing and sly humour. I’ve also read  two good nonfiction books, Pulphead: Essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan and Gossip From the Forest by Sarah Maitland.  I also re-read some great music criticism:  In Love With Those Times: Flying Nun and The Dunedin Sound by Dave McGonigle writing in the sadly-long-departed Stylus in 2005. Clearly a labour of love, it uses the evolutionary theory of speciation to explain the way this genre emerged.Watched the first series of Girls which I hated at first but liked by the end. I’m apparently running a 10K in April. And I’m putting spicy red peppers on everything.