“Hillbilly Elegy” J D Vance (William Collins) – book review

Image result for j d vance hillbilly elegy“Hillbilly Elegy” is subtitled ‘A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis’. J D Vance admits that, on the face of it, he’s not a celebrity, not achieved anything particularly significant and finds it “somewhat absurd” that this book exists. But this is one of J D Vance’s survival mechanisms – this shrugging off and playing down of achievements is part of the same dissonance that helps some survive trauma. What makes “Hillbilly Elegy” a compelling read isn’t just the writing skills learnt as an editor of “The Yale Law Journal” or his honesty, but also his ability to step out of his personal situation and place it in a wider context.

In a nutshell, J D Vance was born in Middletown, Ohio but spent most of his summers in his grandparent’s birthplace of Jackson, Kentucky. After graduating from school, he joined the army for a tour of Iraq before studying law at Yale where he met his wife and now lives amongst the middle-classes in Cincinnati. Like many, his grandparents had moved north in search of work. Armco, like other steel companies, encouraged employees to recommend family members. However, after a hurried marriage, not all family members moved with the grandparents so there were frequent visits back to Jackson, not the best way of setting down roots in Middletown. There were three children, a son and then a ten year gap before two daughters. During that ten year gap there were several miscarriages, thought to be a result of the constant arguments between the grandparents often provoked by the grandfather’s drinking problem and the grandmother’s frustration, instead of pursuing her dream she stuck with being a housewife and mother. In turn, not helped by family loyalty being uppermost and a belief that outsiders should not know what happened behind closed doors. Whilst two of the children seemed to shrug off the arguments, one daughter, J D Vance’s mother didn’t. She become a pregnant teenager in a short-lived marriage and then married again quickly into another short-lived marriage, leaving her a single mother to two children, Lindsay and J D.

Despite the revolving door of stepfathers, grandmother or Mamaw, remained a constant in Lindsay and J D’s lives. She urged both to study and do well. Grandfather helped J D with maths homework. J D acknowledges his grandmother’s consistency and support enabled him to turn around his school grades and realise he could aim higher than a job at Armco. Even though by this time, jobs at Armco were scarce, most teenagers in Middletown had a relative who still worked there and there was an assumption they would work there too. There was a collective denial about the decline of the manufacturing industry. Needing money and lacking confidence, J D deferred applying to college and joined the Marines. One key lesson from the Marines was that, if you failed at something, you simply tried again instead of quitting. Another crucial lesson was finance: he figured out that, as a poor student, he was better off applying for an Ivy League university than a hometown one. At Yale, he felt impostor syndrome and it took a professor to challenge his application for a clerkship to realise that he didn’t have to push so hard and could opt for a more appropriate route. The culture at Yale took some adjusting to: not just figuring out which utensil to use at a networking event in a restaurant, but also overcoming the urge to stay behind and help clear up. Networking was novel too: undergraduates didn’t apply for jobs but went to cocktail event and dinners to meet potential employers. Other students would lean on a family contact to open a door, which wasn’t an option J D had and he marveled at the confidence and lack of hesitancy others had in simply asking.

Alongside his story are insights into the attitudes of he society he grew up in. J D Vance’s chaotic family home wasn’t unusual. He and his sister scored 6 on the scale of adverse childhood experiences such as being humiliated by parents, feeling a lack of familial support, having parent who are separated or divorced, living with an addict, living with someone who is depressed and watching someone be physically abused. Both married spouses who scored 0. During a temporary job in a store, J D Vance witnessed people on food stamps buy soda in bulk to sell off later and noticed that these same people rarely bought fresh food. Children lost their baby teeth to “Mountain Dew Mouth” where sugared drinks were put in baby’s bottles (Mamaw intervened to prevent J D’s mother putting Coke in his bottle) and then later lost their adult teeth in fights or to a poor diet. Those in Middletown who were in work resented those out of work and on food stamps who seemed to be playing the system and doing better. Those out of work would say that welfare should be for the deserving poor who would work if there were jobs available and that work was the way out of poverty, whilst conveniently ignoring their own situation. In another temporary job, J D Vance witnessed a nineteen year old and his pregnant girlfriend get offered jobs in a warehouse. The girlfriend worked in the office when she actually turned up – in a five day week, she might make it in on three days and never gave notice or reason for absence. The boyfriend was invariably late and took lengthy bathroom breaks. After a serious of warnings, both were sacked and the boyfriend complained, asking how the employers, who knew their circumstances, could sack them.

In conclusion, there is a discussion about how the problems of those living in poverty and without work can be solved. He doesn’t see it as a problem that can be solved without a profound shift in hillbilly culture. There’s not much point in creating jobs if, like the nineteen year old and his girlfriend, people can’t be bothered to turn up and work. There’s not a lot of point in expecting children with no working adult in their household to have aspirations to get a good college degree, although putting poor children alongside middle-class children in schools, raises expectations in poor children, that can’t be achieved if the middle-classes have deserted places like Middletown. One thing the American government could help with is to redefine a family to include aunts, uncles and grandparents. J D Vance argues if his grandmother could have fostered him, he would have had less chaos in his background, but instead he was left dreading social workers getting involved because his grandmother would not be recognised as a potential fosterer and he’d have been shipped out to strangers. His chief argument is that hillbilly families need to take a long hard look at themselves and accept that chaotic backgrounds and parental addictions harms children and the state of denial where all problems are someone’s else’s fault is a trap of their own making.

These conclusions are compelling argued in non-legalese. J D Vance uses language to communicate, not obfuscate and his vocabulary is engaging. “Hillbilly Elegy” is both a successful memoir and a social history of growing up in the 1980s. It’s also proof you don’t have to be a celebrity or prize-winner to be interesting.


Leicester Writers Club Everybodys Reading event flyer

Journeys in Translation Event during Everybodys Reading

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Write your Poem first, worry about Readers later

Figure skater performing a layback spin

Figure skater layback spin

On a busy rink with no one paying attention, a figure skater will land their double axel perfectly. Five minutes later, with their coach watching, the figure skater will wobble just after landing the jump. A month later, on an empty rink with a prize on offer, the skater knows the only way she’ll land that double axel is to imagine there is no one behind the barriers watching her.

There are generally two reasons for writers’ block:

  1. You wrote yourself into a dead end and need to back out by a couple of stanzas and take the left instead of the right turn.
  2. You’re staring at a blank page or screen and that idea you had just won’t articulate itself.

The blanking issue generally comes from performance anxiety: either you’re putting yourself under too much pressure – “You’re a Writer, Write!” or you’ve finally carved out some time for yourself to write and now you can’t – or you’re worried that you won’t find a reader/editor who will like what you’re trying to write. Naturally the more you urge yourself to write something, the blanker the page looks. It becomes more like a bully, “Look at all this blank space you could fill with words, but you won’t because you’re not the writer you thought you were.”

The cure is to take away the anxiety and that’s never as simple as it sounds. Try these steps and adapt them to suit you.

  • Take a break. This might be as quick as getting a cup of coffee or a longer break to take a walk.
  • On your break, think about what you want to achieve with the poem you’re struggling to write. How would you want a reviewer or workshop to discuss it? Why do you want to write this poem – are you trying to raise awareness of a subject or resolve an issue or record a memory before it’s completely forgotten?
  • When you get back to your blank page, quickly write down in note form what you want to achieve.
  • Now your page isn’t blank anymore. You’ve still not written your poem but you know where you want it to go.
  • Don’t worry about the beginning, start in the middle or work backwards and sketch out what shape the poem should take.
  • The writing may be hesitant, uneven or full of false starts, but you are writing.

You’re writing because, like the figure skater, you took your focus off the audience and placed it back on the poem.


Leicester Writers Showcase Ella @ 100

Journeys in Translation Event during Everybodys Reading

“The Spirit Vaults” Sheila Hamilton (Green Bottle Press) – poetry review

Sheila Hamilton The Spirit Vaults book coverSheila Hamilton’s poems reach out and she seems to reveal in stories from or of others. “Inuit Tales” sets up the idea “Hunger is the hawk/ that will never fly away” and ends,

“A young man falls in love with a blow-fly,
cannot be persuaded of the folly
of this. It would be better, everyone else says,
were you to fall for a seal, or a gorgeous guillemot.
The young man and the blow-fly get married,
regardless. And so on.
The couple set up home.
On the fence outside, even
in the beautiful weather, sits
the hawk.”

It doesn’t matter if the blow-fly is real or a metaphor, the young couple’s defiance is recognisable and the hawk no better than the gossips and meddlers waiting for the marriage to fail so they can smugly pick apart its bones, like a cloud edging into a sunny sky. The title poem is a tour of Liverpool taking in pubs, hotels, industrial units, charities and the church that takes in bodies of the drowned,

“And the public come, press their faces
to the deadroom’s window, agog
to see the bloated bodies, their pallor,
their contortions. It’s a daily show,
and never cancelled.

*

Between us,
membrane.”

Rather than finishing with the “daily show”, the poem reminders readers of the window separating the viewers from the viewed. It asks how comfortable readers are with leaving themselves to understand another’s situation. Those gawping at the bodies in the church, don’t do so solely from fascination but also from a position of reassurance that it’s not happening to them, that death is something that happens to others. The window gives an allusion of safety, because death catches up with everyone, and a place from which to view something that’s normally taboo. The dead are normally whisked away to funeral homes and prepared for showing, not left on view with the ugliness of death uncensored.

In “Waiting for the Immigration Papers”, a man in New York living in a pumpkin-coloured house projects his anticipation on the house,

“Every night, that house shines brighter —
glows, lit from within.
Eventually the sun flows in and out
of all its windows simultaneously.

Then the house glides, bird-like,
over New York Harbour.
Someone had painted the word ‘Liberty’ on it.”

Mary Anning, fossil collector and amateur paleontologist, never met John Clare as far as anyone knows, but Sheila Hamilton imagines a connection, in “Mary Anning’s Letter to John Clare, 1841”

“What I perceive in your poems is a deeper knowing.
Emmonsail’s Heath I have not visited
but I believe on account of your Poems
that I know it, its Seasons and Flowers,
Birds and Beetles. As for me,
I am acquainted with the beaches
of Dorsetshire, pebble and boulder and cliff,
and have been Blessed to know not dragonflies
or Meadow Browns, Skippers or Gatekeepers
but long-ago creatures embedded in such stones.
I cannot say how my Eye saw them
when the Eyes of the much more Educated
did not. I can only think, Mr Clare,
that you and I are cut from a similar Cloth”

Which poet wouldn’t be delighted to receive a letter with the opening sentence of the quote? However, this isn’t just a fan letter. It distills the common theme in “The Spirit Vaults”: no matter how different individual humans seem, they all have a universal desire to meet or connect with someone who understands them. Even mavericks and rebels need that connection with fellow beings.

A gardener gets to speak in “Ekaterinburg”

“I dug them up one summer,
An accident. I hadn’t wanted my spade
to hit bone, but it did.
I covered everything up.
Autumns come, killing leaves on the trees.
White winters white out the dump-side.
Every spring, that tangle of ribs and corsets is visited
by moles, worms, a hundred species.
I still tell no-one.
I think of them, though, those people,
how they ended in the woods by my garden.

Every spring, wild primroses grow there.”

It’s the site where Czar Nicholas II and his family were buried after being shot during the 1917 Revolution. The gardener knows the bodies are somewhere in the garden but not exactly where. He inadvertently uncovers their bones but re-buries them, not yet ready for a public revealing of history that he wants kept hidden. He wants to think his motives are pure and allow nature to take over, but the shameful act of their murder keeps haunting his thoughts. For now, though, their location is his secret and something he can control.

“The Spirit Vaults” is full of humane, compassion poems that seek to give voices to people who don’t usually get chance to speak, to strengthen common bonds and explore ways of excepting differences. They are not afraid to criticise, as shown in “To Pablo Neruda who did not denounce Stalin”, and take to task those who behave inhumanely.

“The Spirit Vaults” is available from Green Bottle Press


Leicester Writers Showcase Ella @ 100Leicester Writers Club Everybodys Reading event flyer

Writing Retreats

Whether in (mostly) rain-soaked Wales or (mostly) sun-drenched Greece, the aim of a writing retreat is to enable writers to take a break from everyday concerns and have a focused space for writing. Most retreats offer a structure, whether that’s just a post-dinner discussion on works-in-progress or a schedule of more detailed teaching workshops, and some will specify whether they are aimed at beginners or those with some publication experience.

Looking at the wealth of retreats available, how do you decide whether one is suitable for you? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you viewing a retreat as another means of procrastination (e.g. I can put this project on hold until I get to the retreat)?
  • Do you have a project you can take to a retreat or are you looking for a retreat to kick-start or get you back in the habit of writing?
  • Do you want to write or are you more interested in the social side of a retreat?
  • Are there specific skills you want to work on or do you want to be left alone to write?
  • Are you looking at the location and thinking of places to visit/see nearby or are you looking for a location that offers no distractions?
  • How confident are you in your cooking skills?
  • What’s your budget?
  • How important is wi-fi?
  • Will a retreat offer you something different from what’s already available in your locality?

If you’re looking to procrastinate and/or thinking of places to visit, then a holiday without pressure to write might be a better option. A holiday isn’t a waste of time if it also offers chance to dream, think, research and explore ideas in a different environment. Sometimes a break from the notepad or keyboard can bring you back recharged and refreshed.

If you’re looking to work on a specific project or want to be left alone to write, than a retreat without a heavy structure of workshops would be better. If you’d like a retreat to revive inspiration, look for one where the workshops are geared to getting participants to write rather than edit or revise existing work.

Some retreats will ask participants to help with cooking the evening meal. Some retreats may not have internet access. Also check if you are expected to share a room and whether that suits you.

If budget’s a problem, seeking out local or online writing communities or courses might be a more realistic option. Some universities and colleges offer online courses (MOOCs) taught via video and reading materials with online forums to discuss what participants are learning. Some retreats may offer bursaries or local arts funding might be available and these might be worth exploring if you can prove that you have a measurable aim and can show whether you will achieve those aims in attending the retreat.

Signs a Writing Retreat may not be right for you

  • The brochure isn’t clear about the aims of the retreat or there aren’t enough details for you to be clear about what’s on offer
  • The pricing structure isn’t clear about what’s included and what are additional extras
  • The retreat offers workshops but doesn’t say who the tutors are or doesn’t let you know who the tutors are in advance of booking
  • There are no testimonials from previous participants or, if it’s a new retreat, no indication of what experience the organisers have in administering retreats
  • You don’t have a clear idea of what you need to bring to the retreat – “turn up and write” isn’t a plan, but “improve this skill” or “work on a body of poems towards a coherent pamphlet/collection/performance” are.
  • You don’t have a clear idea of what you want to achieve – are you looking to improve technique, work on a specific project or just get together with some writers to revive inspiration and try a new direction in writing?

Like creative writing courses, retreats either fill you with enthusiasm or leave you cold. Neither matters, because it’s about whether it is right for you, but, like most things, research and preparation will enable you to pick the right retreat for you and ensure you get the most out of the experience. A retreat isn’t necessarily about getting published and poems written during a retreat may not be the ones you seek to get published, but those poems do offer practice, experience and will help you develop as a writer.

Does Your Writing Environment Impact your Poems?

Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to, but does not necessarily have at once. Privacy, then. A place apart — to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.

Mary Oliver

Virginia Woolf famously wanted her own room, Mary Oliver prefers solitude and J K Rowling wrote in cafes while her very young daughter napped (although I’m guessing now she has a home office.) Some writers take over the kitchen table after other residents have gone to work or school. Others have an office, some at home, some in a separate building so they have to leave home to go to work. Some write directly onto a computer. Others insist on writing out first drafts by hand.

How much does environment impact on writing?

The last six pieces I wrote – reviews and five poems – were all written in different places under different circumstances:

  • I wrote my reviews in the lounge of a rented apartment, computer on my lap, TV in the background because the person I was with wanted to watch it.
  • One poem was drafted by hand in a notebook while I sat in a parked car, background noise supplied by the breeze and birdsong. The person I was with was playing a game on their phone.
  • Another poem was written by hand in a notebook whilst I was sitting on a public bench overlooking the sea, background noise a combination of lapping waves and seagulls.
  • Another poem was written by hand in a notebook in a noisy café.
  • Another poem was written straight onto a laptop at home. This was probably the only uninterrupted draft.
  • Another poem drafted in the notepad app on my phone during lunch break in a noisy office where the radio leaks from the neighbouring warehouse.

The reviews have been accepted. One of the poems has been accepted, the others are still being worked on and aren’t ready for submission yet. The accepted poem was the one written in a noisy office.

If I needed privacy, a place of my own or insisted I could only write drafts on my laptop or in a specific notebook, I wouldn’t get much writing done. Habit has made the ideal writing environment redundant.

I tend to do a lot of drafting in my head before committing words to paper or screen. I have a reasonable memory and experience has taught me that if an idea is good enough, it won’t get forgotten. It will haunt you until you write it. However, it may start in the form of a rough pottery urn but then may shatter and the shards regroup into an elegant china coffee pot and then it may decide that a coffee pot isn’t much use without cups and a milk jug so will reach out and link to those shapes too, bringing them together on a graceful tray. At this point, I’ll pour the coffee and start writing, wherever and whenever I happen to be. I’m not fussed about drafting by hand or on screen.

Ideally, I’d be able to sit at my desk at home with a familiar keyboard and screen. Reviewing has disciplined me into reading from a screen just as I would read from a printed page so I don’t fall into the lazy habit of skim reading from a screen, although I will skim read a boring article in an online journal just as I would speed reading a boring article in a print newspaper. Ideally, I’d have something close to silence (inevitably nature will intrude, the fridge will hum, the computer itself is not always silence). I can filter out predictable noise such as a radio or background chatter, but it’s hard work and makes the writing process more tiring. I have never been able to filter out someone else humming, whistling or tapping in the background whilst I write a poem, particularly if the humming/whistling/tapping is arrhythmic or I don’t recognise the song and can’t make the distraction predictable.

Habit has taught me to seize the moment and write with the environment and tools available. If I wait until I can get home and sit at my desk with minimal distraction, it would only give me a narrow window of opportunity to write and, of the last six pieces, only one was written at home. I would lose a lot of poems if I waited for the ideal environment or indulged in the luxury of only using a certain type or notebook or pen or downloading apps or switching off the internet hub to make me focus on word processing instead of social media.

For most of us, the best writing environment is the one we create with the place we happen to be in and the tools at hand. Worrying about the ideal environment or creating the right set of circumstances is just like waiting for the muse to strike: procrastination.

 


Leicester University’s Centre for New Writing is undertaking a three year collaborative project, Colonial Countryside, which will mobilise child historians to develop new audiences for cutting-edge research about British country houses’ Caribbean and East India connections. Peepal Tree Press will publish and resource new writing. To kick-start this project, a pilot event will be held with Colmore Junior School in Birmingham and Kenwood and Harewood Houses. A crowdfunder has been opened to pay for 20 children to visit country houses and related archives along with a historian and a writer to support the children in creating a podcast about their experiences.

The JustGiving page for the project is available here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/uniofleicester/colonial-countryside


 

“Dreams of Departure” The Process Void – music review

The Process Void Dreams of Departure EP coverThe Process Void set their own bar high on this five track EP. How do you carve your own niche in electronica without sounding like someone else? Go for a pop sound and listeners hear The Cure or OMD. Add rock and listeners think Gary Numan or Devo. Aim somewhere in between and comparisons with Yahoo and Depeche Mode are inevitable. Add a dash of goth/punk and listeners think Miserylab.

Fortunately Alex J Wise’s experience and talent give The Process Void a distinctive sound, even if the elements of hard-edged guitars, melodic synth and basslines plus male vocal sound familiar.

“Eliminate” starts with a simple beat, the synth and guitars come in with the voice centre stage. Its focus is on fallen idols, “You thought they were king of the universe/ But there comes the day you see the mask fall off”.

“Konstellation” feels the most gothic. It’s theme is disillusion, “Constellation, black sky in view/ The stars in your eyes/ Where did they go?” Synth and guitars combine to give the chorus a densely-layered feel, which eases a little during the verses.

“Disgrace” feels like the lament of someone stuck, hamster-on-a-wheel-like, in a rut they can’t see a way out of. The guitars become relentless, the voice more insistent and the synth adds a note of desperation.

“Dying Machine” appropriate starts on a mechanical heartbeat, synth stripped back to give prominence to the vocal. The verses are carefully enunciated, like the last gasp of someone/something fading away. “A new reality is here for you/ Stuck in a time without progression” comes with with an imperative to “Act now or drown”. Choruses are less sparse and vary the tempo, starting with urgency and slowing as the song progresses. I felt this was the best track on the EP.

The title track is voiced by a man who is “Waiting for the paycheck/ For the money already spent” wants to leave. The mix gives prominence to the guitar and cymbals punctuate the lyrics giving the song a wistful note despite the repetitive, regular beat echoing the sense of someone stuck in a life they don’t want.

“Dreams of Departure” is a soundtrack to a dystopian landscape urging listeners to find their inner rebel and challenge existing norms one considered step at a time. That “considered” is important: The Process Void want listeners to think and don’t particularly care if a thinking listener disagrees with them. The Process Void like calculated risks such as taking what looks as if it should be familiar and shifting the listener’s angle so they see it in a new light: punk with melody, electronica with intelligence and purpose.

More on The Process Void here.


Leicester University’s Centre for New Writing is undertaking a three year collaborative project, Colonial Countryside, which will mobilise child historians to develop new audiences for cutting-edge research about British country houses’ Caribbean and East India connections. Peepal Tree Press will publish and resource new writing. To kick-start this project, a pilot event will be held with Colmore Junior School in Birmingham and Kenwood and Harewood Houses. A crowdfunder has been opened to pay for 20 children to visit country houses and related archives along with a historian and a writer to support the children in creating a podcast about their experiences.

The JustGiving page for the project is available here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/uniofleicester/colonial-countryside


 

Forthcoming Literature and Spoken Word Events in Leicester

Some events take a break over the summer months, but Leicester’s as busy as ever. Here’s a list of events I know about taking place during August and September:

Jazz-inspired poetry at Leicester Central Library to celebrate what would have been Ella Fitzgeralds 100th birthday

 

1 August – deadline for letting me know if you’d like to take part in the Ella @ 100 Leicester Writers’ Showcase event at Central Library on 18 October 2017. If I don’t know you want to take part, you won’t get included in the programme (I don’t do telepathy). We’re looking for jazz-inspired poetry and spoken word which doesn’t have to be exclusively about Ella Fitzgerald.

 

 

 

 

 

1 August
8pm Word! Y Theatre, 7 East Street, Leicester LE1 6EY £4/7
Featuring Kayo Chingonyi with support from The Bradgate Writers. If you wish to put your name down for the open mic sessions, arrive at 7pm.

3 August
7pm Leicester Writers’ Club Summer Open Evening, Phoenix Square, 4 Midland Street, Leicester LE1 1TG £3
Leicester Writers’ Club’s Summer Open Evenings offer guests a taster of how the Club works, chance to meet current Club members and decide whether the Club is right for you. The Club offers constructive and professional feedback on works-in-progress, opportunities to discuss markets, writing tips and news all with a friendly group of professional and semi-professional writers. More details on Leicester Writers’ Club’s Summer Open Evenings click here.

9 August
6.30pm Leicester Writers’ Showcase Central Library, Bishop Street, Leicester. Free Entry.

10 August
7pm Leicester Writers’ Club Summer Open Evening, Phoenix Square, 4 Midland Street, Leicester LE1 1TG £3

17 August
7pm Leicester Writers’ Club Summer Open Evening, Phoenix Square, 4 Midland Street, Leicester LE1 1TG £3

24 August
7pm Leicester Writers’ Club Summer Open Evening, Phoenix Square, 4 Midland Street, Leicester LE1 1TG £3

31 August
7pm Leicester Writers’ Club Summer Open Evening, Phoenix Square, 4 Midland Street, Leicester LE1 1TG £3 Last Summer Open Evening. Leicester Writers’ Club meetings in September are for members only.

[Both Leicester Writes and the South Leicestershire Poetry Stanza do take a break in August only].

5 September
10am Leicester Writes, Bru Cafe and Gelato, 24 Granby Street, Leicester
Friendly open meeting for writers to discuss work and share tips.

8pm Word! Y Theatre, 7 East Street, Leicester LE1 6EY
Featuring Caroline Bird with support from Cynthia Rodriguez. If you wish to put your name down for the open mic sessions, arrive at 7pm.

12 September
6.30pm Novel Exchanges, The Exchange, Rutland Street, Leicester
Hear readings and discuss works-in-progress.

16 September
2pm South Leicestershire Poetry Stanza, Old Grammar School, Market Harborough, Leicestershire
Informal poetry workshop – bring copies of a poem to discuss. Small charge to cover room hire.

20 September
6.30pm Leicester Writers’ Showcase, Central Library, Bishop Street, Leicester. Free Entry.

25 September
7.30pm Shindig! Western Pub, Western Road, Leicester LE3 0GA
Free entry. Perfomers tba. Open mic slots available – names taken on the night. Organisers Nine Arches Press and Leicester University’s Centre for New Writing/Crystal Clear Creators.

30 September – Start of the Everybody’s Reading Festival – look out for brochures for a week-long series of events celebrating and developing reading.

7pm Journeys in Translation African Caribbean Centre, Maidstone Road, Leicester LE2 0UA. Free Entry.
Journeys in Translation builds on the success of the Journeys Poem Pop-up Library held during 2016’s Everybody’s Reading. Thirteen poems from “Over Land Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge” (Five Leaves, 2015) have been translated into twenty other languages, Arabic, Assamese, Bengali, British Sign Language (BSL), Chinese, Danish, Farsi, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Polish, Romanian, Shona, Spanish, Turkish, Welsh (each poem has been translated into at least one other language and most poems have been translated into more than one other language although not all poems have been translated into each of the 20 languages listed). Journeys in Translation will host readings of the original poems in English and in translations with displays of posters showing the original poems alongside translations and will be held on International Translation Day.


Institute of Physics Flash Fiction and Poetry Competitions

If you can write a piece of flash fiction and/or a poem of up to 500 words about physics or featuring a physicist by 31 October, have a go a these free to enter competitions.

You can enter 1 piece of flash fiction and/or 1 poem but you cannot enter either competition more than once. Cash prizes of £100, £75 and £50 for each competition.

  • Entries should be sent as a Word or .pdf attachment with no identifying details (entries will be judged anonymously) to writingcompetition2017 [at] iop.org.
  • Please include your contact details and title of entry in the body of your email.
  • Please use the subject heading IOP Physics in Flash Fiction Competition 2017 or IOP Physics in Poetry Competition 2017 as appropriate.
  • Entries must be original, unpublished and should not be extracts from longer works.
  • Writers retain copyright and the Institute of Physics reserves the right to publish entries or extracts from entries for publicity purposes.
  • Entries are not restricted to Leicestershire residents.
  • Enquiries about the competition should be emailed to the address above.