Spring/Summer 2018

IMG_20180607_181045907_HDROver the last quarter my work has been fairly solitary and quiet as I’m engaged in a longer writing project but there have been a few events and publications to report.

I have new work in LUNE: A Journal of Literary Misrule, which is based at Lancaster University. For the disease-themed issue 01, this hybrid piece, ‘Star dust’,  explores love in time, transference and the malady of nostalgia via a nested trio of cover versions. Hoagy Carmichel via Nat King Cole via Patti Smith. You can read it here.

Earlier this spring another short piece of mine, ‘Peach on the Beach’, was published by Burning House Press, selected by Guest Editor C.C. O’Hanlon. You can read that here.

In May, Adam Farrer and I at The Real Story commissioned five writers working at the forefront of experimental nonfiction to create new work responding to our theme ‘In the Half-light’ for a live event during the Not Quite Light Festival in Salford. You can read the resulting texts from Maria Fusco, May-lan Tan, Joanna Walsh, Rachel Genn and Dimitra Xidous and watch films of their performances at our sold-out event on The Real Story website. It was a pleasure to work with these writers and to commission such extraordinary and original writing and performance.

In June, I wrote and performed a speech, ‘Etihad’, for Manchester Histories Festival. This was performed twice, at the launch event in the Lowry and Valette room at Manchester Art Gallery (pictured above), and the following day as part of MHF’s ‘Soapbox’ programme at All Saints’ Park. ‘Etihad’ focuses on the imprisoned UAE human rights activist and writer Ahmed Mansoor; the alliance between Manchester and Abu Dhabi; radicalism, place-making and regeneration; and how complacency becomes complicity. You can read the full text here.

I will be performing a reconfigured version of ‘Etihad’ at PechaKucha Manchester on Thursday 2 August at Fairfield Social Club. I’m enjoying the challenge of devising a more visual presentation of the work to fit the event’s format, in collaboration with Manchester design studio Dotto and activist Peggy Manning.

In recent months I’ve also had a great time performing new work at Reverb, the experimental writing and performance series at Edge Hill University,  teaching a life writing and personal narrative workshop for Altrincham Word Festival, and hosting an in-conversation event with short story writer and novelist A.M. Homes at Waterstones in Manchester.

Now: summer! After some writing time in Wales and a much-needed return to my native land, I’ll be taking up a new position at The University of Salford as a .6 Lecturer in Digital Journalism, based at Media City UK. I’m really pleased about expanding my role at such a great department, and look forward to lots more teaching. As events in the media and the wider world continue to unfold in strange and alarming directions, teaching journalism has never felt like a more important job.

In September I’m also looking forward to the publication of a new piece of mine in Volume 3 of The Letters Page, the epistolary journal edited by Jon McGregor. This journal is notable both for the sharpness of its writing and the beauty of its printed form so I’m very pleased to have work in it; find out more and order a copy here.

 

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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.

 

 

 

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.

 

Winter 2011/12

So we just went right from summer to winter? No, time doesn’t work differently in my world. It was such a busy autumn that I was ahem, remiss in updating this blog about what I’m up to at work. Because I was up to too much. Ah well, here I am now, with loads to catch you up on.

My main client, Creative Tourist, had a very busy few months programming, producing content and preparing for the 2011 Manchester Weekender festival, which was a roaring success. October’s always crazy in Manchester, what with five or six festivals sharing the city; The Weekender gets them all together for a few delightfully frantic days of cultural gluttony. This year, I especially loved Lip Service’s Hysterical Historical Walking Tour, the Manchester Camerata and poet Michael Symmons Roberts teaming up for A Portrait of Music and Words, and the Beating Wing Orchestra’s fantastic gig at Castlefield Gallery. For a great roundup of the festival, check out our Weekender page on Storify, a new multimedia curation tool I am loving right now.

I’ve also enjoyed doing some more writing for the Creative Tourist site, like this feature on the excellent Picturing Politics poster exhibition at People’s History Museum. In other news, I’m very happy that Susie Stubbs has  returned from maternity leave and is now sharing editor duties with me. It’s a wonderful project to be involved in, and there’s lots of great stuff planned for 2012.

Openstories, the literature organisation I run, also had a busy fall. Rainy City Stories, our long-running locative creative writing project, went on hiatus (sniff) so we could concentrate on The Real Story, a creative nonfiction project that will serve as our main focus for the next year or two. Over the summer we ran a very popular life writing course and a personal essay competition as part of the project. The five winners’ essays were published on The Real Story website, which launched with a reading at The Deaf Institute during the Manchester Literature Festival. I am proud to be publishing such a fine collection of essays, and am happily plotting our activity for 2012, which looks to feature more creative nonfiction workshops and another publishing project, very possibly focusing on long form narrative writing. I’ve also been reading lots of wonderful nonfiction; most recently Jackie Kay’s winning memoir Red Dust RoadIn Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction, and this amazing essay in The New York Times by Cynthia Zarin, one of my favourite professors at Columbia Journalism School. I can’t wait to read the book it’s extracted from.

Oh yeah. Openstories was profiled in a Blankpages feature about creative writing organisations in Manchester. Check it out here: it’s called A Community Speaks.

For the sixth year in a row I coordinated the Manchester Blog Awards in October, which attracted more than 200 entries and showcased a really engaging and wide-ranging group of blogs this year. The event, held in conjunction with The Real Story launch, went well and featured a very professional group of Manchester writers reading their work to an attentive, full-capacity crowd. I’m constantly amazed at how much writing talent there is in this city. Head here for links to the shortlisted and award-winning blogs, which cover everthing from short movie reviews to psychogeography to scary junk food.

I have developed a nice relationship with Cornerhouse, and will continue to work with their Digital Reporters training scheme delivering regular sessions on blogging. I also ran a sold-out workshop for the general public called The Art of Blogging, and have plans to do a similar one there in the new year. Follow me on Twitter (@katefeld) if you want to hear about this one in time to get tickets!

I’m not actively seeking new clients for major (ie long-term and time-consuming) projects as I’m currently working just two days a week, but if you have a short term project you’d like to get me involved in, get in touch. I’ll be back on here in the spring with another update. Well, unless I don’t manage to get on here until summer. That could happen, I suppose.

All best wishes for a joyous 2012.

– Kate

Summer 2011

Hello and happy summer. The big news is that Openstories, the nonprofit arts group I run with Chris Horkan and Cathy Bolton, has launched a new project. The Real Story is a celebration of creative nonfiction, and will publish new writing in the genre on a website to be launched at Manchester Literature Festival 2011. We’re kicking things off with a life writing workshop I’m teaching at City Library July 30, and a writing competition that closes at the end of August. I’m really happy to be doing this project, I’ve been interested in creative nonfiction for a very long time, and have been lucky enough to do some work with Lancaster Litfest that has expanded my love for this under-appreciated field of writing.

The Manchester International Festival is just starting, and I’m gearing up to do a ton of blogging and livetweeting about this year’s jam-packed programme. I’m most excited about Bjork and Music Boxes going in, but if this year’s anything like previous fests, it’s often something unexpected that turns out to be your favourite.

Creative Tourist has been busy – our brand new family city guide, Six Whole Weeks? is online now, stuffed with great things to do over the summer in Manchester. It was a lot of fun to write and research this one (thanks to my daughters Molly and Bella, who should probably share research credit.) Work is already underway on CT’s Manchester Weekender, a full weekend of amazingly cool stuff that happens when five festivals concurrently going on in the city overlap and cross-pollinate.

I recently moderated a panel about approaching agents and publishers for Creative Industries Trafford. We had a full house and the event went very smoothly, thanks to our lovely panellists Oli Munson, Sophie Buchan and John Jarrold who came up from London to give Manchester writers some very sound advice.