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.

Summer 2013

DSC_0079As usual, I’m just getting around to writing this quarterly post at the turn of the season. The summer is most definitely over, and what a fantastic one we’ve had, with bountiful sunshine and lots of long, lazy days outside. We managed to get to Suffolk for a week just before school started, and fell in love with the utterly beautiful coast around Southwold. Now I’m ready for crackling fires, woolly jumpers and picking blackberries and apples to make into crumble. Bring on the fall!

Work-wise it’s been a pretty busy summer, dominated by the best Manchester International Festival yet, which I covered for Creative Tourist, and wrote about on my blog. In the end I think my favourite thing was The Old Woman. I really didn’t know what to expect from this play but the performance was electric, with Baryshnikov and Dafoe playing off against each other brilliantly.

I’ve now edited or written several pieces of content for the Arts Marketing Association’s free CultureHive resource site, all relating to best practice in Press and PR in arts marketing. You can read them over here. Just got a few left to finish, including a simple guide to blogging for cultural organisations and an interview with the folks behind MOMA’s excellent Open Space blog, so look out for those on the site soon.

I’ve been doing Digital Marketing work for Manchester Literature Festival, helping them launch a lovely new website and create a show-stopping brochure. I’ve set up a new blog for the organisation called Chapter & Verse, which is intended to be a little bit more of a year-round destination for literary news and happenings around Manchester, and in the run up to the festival will be featuring new content aimed at introducting the festival team and sharing what it is that we do all day. And during the festival (7-20 October) we’ll be drafing in a team of volunteer bloggers to write about MLF events. Can’t wait for it to get underway – the programme is especially good this year and I’m really looking forward to seeing Neil Gaiman, Audrey Niffenegger, Patrick Ness, Deborah Levy, Sarah Hall and Iain Sincair.

I’ve run successful blogging workshops at Castlefield Gallery and with Cornerhouse’s Digital Reporters group. And earlier this summer I ran a full day’s training on blogging for staff at the Bolton Museum, Library, Archives and Aquarium. This is a single glorious old building housing a bewildering array of services, artefacts and cultural programmes, and it’s entirely run by the council. It was inspiring to spend time with the staff, who are filled with enthusiasm about the work that they do. And I’ll get a chance to think about these things again this Autumn when I work on social media strategy for  a related Greater Manchester Museums Group initiative to spread the word about  the treasures that await in places like this.

I’ve done lots of writing for Creative Tourist on food and art. Some of my favourite pieces have been reviews of the awesome Aumbry in Prestwich, and BrewDog in Manchester. I’ve also written a couple of creative nonfiction essays which will be appearing in anthologies/online soon, but haven’t been published yet.

On the horizon is lots of work on the Blog North Awards. This week will consist almost entirely of reading blogs, as entries close this evening and I have to do the shortlisting, which I moan about a lot but secretly love doing. After that I’ve got to supervise the judging/public voting processes, and then it’s dragooning in readers and organising details for the big night.  The event is happening 16 October at Gorilla and should be great fun; come on down! Openstories (the literary organisation I run, which produces the Blog North Awards for MLF) was successful in getting grant funding for the awards that will also allow us to set up a small associated writer development programme, which is something we’ve been wanting to do for a while. So once the awards are over I’ll be doing a lot of work on that.

I’ll also be running blogging workshops in Manchester in early November and possibly in Cardigan later in the month; both being confirmed but will post links here and on Twitter when they’re live.

Finally, cool stuff I’ve discovered lately: The book Swimming Home by Deborah Levy, which also turned me on to ace publishers & Other Stories. Also Aeon magazine, and especially this tremendous essay Cities Belong to Us, on how we live in public space.  I’m also listening pretty much non-stop to the new Neko Case album, The worse things get the harder I fight, the harder I fight the more I love you. She’s coming to Manchester in December, too. Hooray!

Spring? 2013

3067353638_57112cda13_zIt may be mid-May, but is it really spring? There’s snow on the forecast as I write this. NOT FAIR.

So here’s my news. I’m running a blogging workshop at Castlefield Gallery on Tuesday 28 May at 6:30pm and at time of writing there are a few places left.  It’s for beginners and more experienced folks who are in need of some bloggy inspiration and guidance. For more info and booking head over here.

My work spreading the gospel of blog continues. Recent workshops  have included sessions with the Haelo team at Salford Royal Infirmary and for Creative Industries Trafford, as part of a course on social media marketing with the ace Mandy Martinez. Future plans include sessions for Bolton Library and Museum and a session specifically for artists at Castlefield Gallery (date tbc). If you’re interested in having me set up a workshop for your organisation, get in touch.

I’ll be doing digital marketing for the lovely Manchester Literature Festival. It’s a pretty spectacular programme with more than 80 (!) events this year so I should be pretty busy. Some of my favouritest writers ever are reading there and I wish I could tell you who and when, but you’ll all have to wait until the full programme gets announced in a month or so (bwa ha ha…)

The past couple of months have been very busy. On the Openstories front, we’ve submitted a bid to the Arts Council that would cover our literary activities for the next 18 months. We’ll need to keep shtum until we hear back on our grant (fingers crossed) but we have big plans for our old friend Rainy City Stories.

Planning is also underway for the 2013 Blog North Awards. Right now I’m currently talking to sponsors for this year’s event (email me for details if your company might be interested in being a sponsor. This year’s sponsorship package is pretty freaking awesome if I do say so myself.)

The Blog North Network’s fourth event, a food-centred gathering of bloggers in Leeds, was a big success, and I’m already planning the next one along with my co-conspirators Susie Stubbs and Emma Bearman. It’s going to have a feminist theme and will take place in  Manchester this Autumn.

I’ve been writing lots. Totally enjoying the food writing I’ve been doing for Creative Tourist lately, like this review of improbably-named Tex-Mex joint Luck Lust Liquor and Burn or this review of Simon Rogan’s new restaurant at The Midland, The French – a meal I’m still daydreaming about. I also enjoyed writing this profile of Manchester Art Gallery/Whitworth Gallery director Maria Balshaw .

And I’ve been reading some great books: The Serial Garden by Joan Aiken and my former professor Cynthia Zarin’s beautiful essay collection, An Enlarged Heart. Both highly recommended.

Image by The Giant Vermin via Flickr