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