Friday, 17 October 2014

New Writing North news and Listening Post

Here is the latest information from New Writing North and the Listening Post:

   October 2014
Paul Kingsnorth wins Gordon Burn Prize
Debut novel wins prize set up to honour legacy of late writer
At a special event at Durham Book Festival on Friday evening, Paul Kingsnorth was announced as the winner of the second annual Gordon Burn Prize for his debut novel The Wake by a judging panel which comprised actor Julian Barratt, poet John Burnside, artist Sarah Lucas, and last year’s inaugural prize winner, novelist Benjamin Myers.

Set in the three years after the Norman invasion of 1066, The Wake tells the story of Buccmaster of Holland, a man from the Lincolnshire Fens, who, with a fractured band of guerrilla fighters, takes up arms against the invaders. It is a post-apocalyptic story of the brutal shattering of lives, a tale of lost gods and haunted visions, narrated by a man bearing witness to the end of his world.

‘The ‘shadow tongue’ vocabulary that is the novel’s architecture automatically makes The Wake a unique entity, yet it is so much more than a dazzling display of linguistic flair,’ said judge Benjamin Myers. ‘Paul Kingsnorth creates his own world – that of an old England that is both familiar yet utterly alien – and pulls you in to bear witness to our own bloody history first hand. Poetry, landscape, mythology and language are shot through with fleeting flashes of violence on which modern society is founded. Months after first reading it, part of me is still within this novel, and I truly believe future generations will regard The Wake as a classic.’

‘The Gordon Burn Prize looks to celebrate, amongst many things, risk-takers and people, like Gordon, who are prepared to stare horror in the face,' said a spokesperson from the Gordon Burn Trust. 'In The Wake, we don’t know if this is history as conveyed by a psychopath or how it might have happened or both. Either way, it is an astonishing book. A terrifying and mesmerising tale of Saxon rebels, it conjures up a blood-soaked Old England – yet speaks to a Britain of today – a country battling foreign fundamentalism, fearful of its borders and pitting nature against an energy-hungry people. The feat of language is breath-taking. The Gordon Burn Trust cottage is filled with Burn’s books on English regional dialects – Burn was fascinated by language, its poetic properties and its power to give people identity, and to mark them, he would have applauded the astonishing audacity of Paul Kingsnorth’s ‘shadow tongue.’

Paul Kingsnorth is the author of two non-fiction books, One No, Many Yeses (2003) and the highly acclaimed Real England (2008), as well as a collection of poetry, Kidland (2011). A former journalist and deputy editor of The Ecologist magazine, he has won several awards for his poetry and essays. In 2009, he co-founded the Dark Mountain Project, an international network of writers, artists and thinkers in search of new stories for troubled times. Much of his writing can be found online at The Wake is his first novel.

The Wake is published by Unbound, a crowdsource funding platform, whose investors include actor Mark Rylance. Rylance, currently filming Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall for the BBC, is such a supporter of the book that he joined Paul Kingsnorth at this year’s Hay Festival, where he read from the book. His performance can be seen on the Telegraph website.

The Gordon Burn Prize, run in partnership by New Writing North, Faber & Faber, and the Gordon Burn Trust, was conceived to pay tribute to the legacy of the late author. An incisive, undaunted writer, Newcastle-born Burn was a literary polymath, writing forensically on subjects ranging from celebrity to serial killers, politics to contemporary art, sport to the media. The Gordon Burn Prize seeks to recognise writers whose work follows in his fearless footsteps. The winning writer receives a cheque for £5,000 and the opportunity to undertake a writing retreat of up to three months at Gordon Burn’s cottage in Berwickshire.

The shortlist for the prize this year was: The Valley by Richard Benson (Bloomsbury), The Kills by Richard House (Picador), The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound), The Trip to Echo Spring by Olivia Laing (Canongate), American Interior by Gruff Rhys (Hamish Hamilton), and The Free by Willy Vlautin (Faber & Faber).
New Writing North news
Durham Book Festival gets underway
It’s been months in the planning, but Durham Book Festival 2014 is finally here. As you read this newsletter, we will be dusting down our best dresses and preparing for the impossibly exciting announcement of the Gordon Burn Prize. The office is all a-buzz with debate about who has won from this year’s exceptional shortlist.

The ceremony will kick off nine packed days of events at venues across Durham City. You can still book tickets for some events – see to check the latest news. If you are joining us this weekend or in the coming week, we look forward to offering you a warm welcome. If you can’t be here, do follow the gossip action on Twitter @durhambookfest using the hashtag #dbf14.
Newcastle Fund announces £90,000 investment in New Writing North projects
We are delighted to be included in the list of organisations receiving funding from the inaugural Newcastle Culture Development Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.

New Writing North has been awarded £90,000 of funding from the Newcastle Culture Development Fund over three years to increase the reach of our young writers programme in Newcastle. The funding will allow us to work with schools, libraries and community organisations to run after-school writing groups and outreach projects in harder-to-reach communities. We will also create more opportunities for young writers’ work to be seen and celebrated with a programme of events by and for young people in theatres and other cultural venues across Newcastle under the brand ‘Young Writers’ City'.

Watch this space as we roll out the programme from April 2015.
Verb New Voices: Supporting New Writers for Broadcast and Performance
On Thursday 6 November we will be hosting a panel discussion at Arc, Stockton, with Sue Roberts, BBC editor of The Verb and audio drama R3/4; Alison Boyle, relationship manager literature, Arts Council England; Matt Fenton, artistic director of Contact Theatre in Manchester; director Peader Kirk; and writer Louise Fazackerley on this year’s Verb New Voices scheme, as they discuss ways in which we can most effectively support emerging writers to create work for broadcast and performance.

Following this, the writers involved in the Verb New Voices development programme 2014 will be presenting their works in progress. Louise Fazackerley presents a scratch performance of Love Is a Battlefield, her spoken word show about the impact of war on the domestic lives and emotional health of soldiers and their families, featuring dance and original music; John Hamilton May’s Jumble Male will tell the story of a young (every)man and explore an apparent crisis of masculinity in the 21st century; while Matt Miller’s sometimes confessional storytelling encapsulates seminal moments growing up along the River Tyne.

Verb New Voices is a spoken word development programme run by the BBC and Arts Council in association with New Writing North, Arc, Contact Theatre, Arvon and Writing Squad. Excerpts from all three pieces will be broadcast on Radio 3’s The Verb later this year. Tickets for the performance are £3 and free for the panel discussion but booking is advised.
Sali Hughes: Pretty Honest
Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle: Wednesday 5 November, 6.30pm-7.30pm We are delighted to present a Fourth Estate Literary Salon with beauty expert Sali Hughes to celebrate the publication of her new book, Pretty Honest. Sali will be in conversation with Marie Nixon, talking about 20 years of working in the industry, from assistant make-up artist to beauty editor at The Guardian.
Pretty Honest debunks the myth that women can’t be interested in beauty and ‘serious issues’ too and draws on over 20 years of wisdom, advice and expertise to show women how to make the most of make-up’s physically and emotionally transformative powers. Tickets: £8.50/£6.50. Book online at
Submit to Cuckoo Quarterly
Our online magazine Cuckoo Quarterly and our print magazine Cuckoo Press are both currently open for submissions. If you are – or if you know – a young writer, you can find out how to submit at
We’ve had some brilliant news from writers in our network this fortnight. Join us in raising a toast to Helen Cadbury, who was one of our Northern Crime Competition winners in 2012 and had her first book To Catch a Rabbit published by Moth. The rights to that book, and her second, Bones in the Nest, have recently been bought by independent publisher Allison and Busby. Both books will be out in 2015.

We were also delighted to hear that Northern Writers’ Award 2013 winner Carys Davies has a new collection of short stories, The Redemption of Galen Pike, out with Salt this month.

Ben Wilkinson, one of this year’s Northern Writers’ Award winners, recently won the Offside Stories: The Pride and the Passion competition for his poem, John Barnes. Another of his poems, King Kenny, features in the November issue of the Official Liverpool FC Monthly Magazine, out now. Both poems are part of a sequence on Liverpool Football Club that Ben is currently writing with support from New Writing North.

Congratulations to Cumbria-based Polly Atkin, who won this year’s Andrew Waterhouse Award, and who has gone on to further success, bagging herself the main prize in the Wigtown Poetry Competition earlier this month.

Seth Insua lives in Newcastle upon Tyne and is about to publish his graphic novel, Anna the Knight, in a new digital magazine of short fiction, Cracked Eye. The first issue is out on 4 November and Anna should run over the course of eight issues. We look forward to hearing more from Seth.

Finally, we were so pleased to hear that Forum Books Kids was a recipient of a James Patterson grant this month. The news means the independent bookshop will be able to launch their Dangerous Reading Club and start work on a new garden.
Well done, all. Keep the good news coming!
Write a script for Northumberland Theatre Company
NTC Touring Theatre Company has received funding from ACE Grants for the Arts to produce 4THOUGHTS: Myth, Music, Mayhem and Mirth, an evening of four short new plays which will tour the North in March 2015. The company now seeks writers of new plays/musicals. Writers may have had some professional productions of their work or may be complete beginners. Plays must last no longer than 30 minutes and should be for six actors. Deadline for submission: 29 October. For further information, see
Emma Press: call for prose submissions
The Emma Press is now accepting proposals for prose pamphlets, to publish as part of the Emma Press Pamphlets series. The open call for submissions will run until 25 January 2015 and the prose pamphlets will begin publishing from September 2015.

The Emma Press has previously published exclusively poetry, in anthologies and pamphlets. With its new programme of prose publications, the publisher hopes to attract ‘talented writers early in their careers, who might not be ready for a full-length publication, as well as more established writers who have a pamphlet-length project they would like to pursue’. The call for submissions invites proposals for formats including short stories, short plays, essays, recipes and guides. For guidelines see
Solstice Shorts short story competition
For the shortest day of the year on Sunday 21 December, Arachne Press is holding the Solstice Shorts Festival. They are looking for submissions of unpublished short stories on the theme of time. 12 stories will be selected to be presented at the festival. Closes: 31 October. For full submission details, see
Jobs round-up
Newcastle University is recruiting a part-time lecturer in creative writing (poetry). Closes 21 October. For full details, click here.

Leeds Library and Information Service has been awarded funding from Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts stream to deliver a two-year pilot project, WordPlay – a programme of creative activities in The Art Space, a recently adapted space in the central library building. The Library Service has commissioned Dep Arts as project producers to devise and curate a programme of activities and are now seeking to appoint an external evaluator to work alongside the steering group and Dep Arts to gather evidence and deliver a report assessing the impact of the project. Fee: £3,500 to include all expenses. Closes 17 October. For the brief, see

The Forge is an award winning participatory art commissioning and producing agency that creates innovative arts projects with and for young people. They are seeking a creative producer who will play a vital role in the development of the organisation. Closes 24 October. For full details, see

Northern Stage is seeking an experienced and creative executive director to work alongside artistic director Lorne Campbell. They would like to hear from people working at a senior level in arts administration who are excited by achieving the theatre’s creative ambitions. Closes 24 October. For an application pack, email Philippa Leith at
The Listening Post
T-Junction International Poetry Festival
Various venues, Middlesbrough: 16-20 October
T-Junction is a four-day poetry festival in Teesside, combining readings, workshops, debates, masterclasses, lectures and launches. For the programme, see
Short Short Story Slam
The Storey, Lancaster: Saturday 18 October, 8pm
Lancaster is holding its first-ever Short Short Story Slam, taking place as part of Litfest. The event is organised by Manchester-based writing collective Flashtag, who are looking for competitors as well as audience members. Find out more at
Workshops and courses
Creative North writing workshops
The Hub, North Shields: From Saturday 11 October, 2pm-5pm
Creative North is running a series of workshops including Introduction to Writing beginning on Saturday 11 October and on Saturday 25 October Writing the Everyday, covering non-fiction, essay, blog and business writing skills. More workshops to be confirmed shortly. Workshops last three hours and cost £15. See for details.
Northern Lights Writers’ Conference
Waterside Arts Centre, Sale: Saturday 25 October, 10.15am-4.30pm
Creative Industries Trafford hosts its second annual Northern Lights Writers’ Conference, featuring author and broadcaster Will Self presenting a keynote speech and a special masterclass. Northern Lights features workshops on different aspects of writing, presentations on funding, panel discussions on marketing, and networking opportunities for emerging and established writers with renowned publishers, literary agents and authors, including David Gaffney, Jo Bell and Joanna Kavenna. Tickets: £30. For details, visit
Creative writing workshop for young people
City Library and Arts Centre, Sunderland: Saturday 25 October, 1pm-3pm
Poet and curator Harry Burke will be running a creative writing workshop suitable for young people at Sunderland Literature Festival. The event is free, but ticketed. To book, call City Library on 0191 561 1235.
North East People’s Assembly 2014
Northern Stage, Newcastle: Saturday 1 November, 11am-9pm
A day of speeches, discussions and workshops involving a wide range of campaign groups and covering such topics as the NHS, the attacks on education and the impact of austerity on people’s lives. Followed at 6.30pm by the People’s Variety Show with performers including Kate Fox, Steffen Peddie and Mike Milligan. Tickets: £10/£5 (whole day) or £6/£3 (daytime or evening). For more information and a full schedule of activities, see
Nancy Campbell: Ice and the Imagination
Lit & Phil, Newcastle: Tuesday 4 November 6pm
This wintery workshop will take classic works of polar exploration and natural history from the Lit & Phil collection as a starting point for new writing about ice, snow and the environment. Poet and Arctic Book Club founder Nancy Campbell will introduce work by contemporary writers on the subject and guide you through prompts to create your own poems and stories. The workshop is free, but booking is advised. To book call 0191 232 0192.
Inscribe Fiction Masterclass: Magical Realism & Erotica
Leeds: Saturday 8 November, 11am-4pm
This masterclass with acclaimed writer Leone Ross will use a combination of mini-lecture, group work and writing exercises and is suitable for those already writing short stories and novels, who either want guidance on how to develop their craft, or who want to refresh their skills. £15/£12. Enquire by email only to or book a place at

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