Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Commonword newsletter

Here is the latest Commonword newsletter with interviews, upcoming events and more:

Events and Opportunities from Commonword
July 2017
Dear Commonword Writer,

Welcome to our July newsletter! This month we bring you details of our: renewed NPO status, upcoming Superheroes of Slam competition, Writer of the Month interview with Zodwa Nyoni and Young Identity events.

Happy reading!
Commonword has received renewed NPO status from Arts Council
Commonword announces the wonderful news that its bid to receive funding under the Arts Council of England’s National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) programme has been successful. We at Commonword thank Arts Council England for continuing to support our work.
Julia Davis, Commonword’s Chair says: “"We are delighted with this news which will underpin our continued commitment to new writers. We look forward to developing our creative programme of workshops, digital innovation, conferences and cross sector partnerships."
Commonword’s Chief Executive, Pete Kalu states: “This represents a ringing endorsement of our diversity and innovation focused approach to literature development and specifically our five strand plan to help more new writers become successful over the coming years.”
Read more about our five strand plan for 2018-2022 here.
In the quest for the ultimate slam poet, Commonword presents
Superheroes of Slam 2017.
The Superheroes of Slam 2017 Final will take place on the 12th of October at Three Minute Theatre. This year finalists from Berlin (Germany), Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester, Newcastle, Rochdale and Sheffield will be battling it out for the title of Superheroes of Slam Champion 2017. Alongside the title, the winner of the slam final will receive £250 and an Arvon Course of their choice (subject to availability).
Contestants have 3 minutes to rock or shock the mic and are judged by audience responses and guest judges. Previous winners of the slam include: Dominic Berry, Mark Mace Smith and Joy France.

Upcoming Heats
HEAT 1 Berlin - WINNER - Charlie Dupré
HEAT 2 (03/09/17) Leeds - To enter, email
HEAT 3 (14/09/17) Rochdale - To enter, email
HEAT 4 (15/09/17) Leicester - To enter, email
HEAT 5 (19/09/17) Sheffield - To enter, email
HEAT 6 (20/09/17) Manchester - To enter, email
HEAT 7 (21/09/17) Birmingham - To enter, email
HEAT 8 (26/09/17) Bristol - To enter, email
HEAT 9 (28/09/17) Newcastle - To enter, email 

For updates on locations and times of the slams, please follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.  
Our July Writer of the Month: Zodwa Nyoni
This month, Charlotte Maxwell interviewed Zodwa Nyoni about her new play Ode to Leeds, the success of her recent play Weathered Estates and advice she could offer to emerging young poets and playwrights.
Tell me about you, as an artist. How do you define art? What art do you make?
I am a writer. I create stories that examine human behaviour. I am fascinated by people and how they interact with each other. People are complex beings and take from them, and put characters in various situations and ask what does this story say about who we are, where we are coming from and are going. This is my art.
Your new play, Ode to Leeds has just completed its debut run at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. What inspired you to write this piece? How has the process of creating a play with so many additional audience engagement elements been?
Ode to Leeds was inspired by my time as a member of Leeds Young Authors (LYA). What I took away from LYA was a safe space to write and relationships with young people during a time (adolescence) when we were all trying to figure out who we were and our roles in society. The poetry was our common ground and our tool for expression. We each brought our own histories to the group, learnt from each other and the workshop leaders and, left feeling transformed.
In the play, you have five characters for whom this confluence of poetry, young people, Leeds and live stories lead to unexpected shifts in relationships, a questioning of self and the purpose of the art form in their lives.
Audience engagement is key. Not only during the run but in how the play is marketed to them and what they gain after the production has ended. What was important for Ode to Leeds was celebrating the poetry and the people of Leeds.  This speaks to all ages, genders, races and ethnicities.
Khadijah Ibrahiim (Artistic Director of Leeds Young Authors) and West Yorkshire Playhouse developed a programme called The Movement. It allowed for the city to engage with the poetry in different ways. Be it, writing their own poetry on the walls of the West Yorkshire Playhouse, attending an open mic night (The Sunday Practise), artists’ development weekend (The Takeover), community workshops and Q&A’s with LYA alumni, director and cast.
This level of detail is important, especially with new writing. It enables the audience to build a relationship with new work and artists. When a theatre or organisation is supporting new work, they act as bridge between the work and the audience. It is crucial for them to establish honest and sustainable relationships on both sides.
Read the rest of her interview here.

New Release: Sounds That Exceed 80 Decibels

- sui anukka - col bashir - hafsah aneela bashir - jane bradley - maeve clarke - dipali das - afshan d’souza-lodhi - christina fonthes - bethany hermitt - charlotte maxwell - yolanda mercy - heena patel - deborah sabina - shahireh sharif - naomi sumner chan -
Sounds That Exceed 80 Decibels is now available to purchase as an ebook online or physical copies can be ordered via

sounds that exceed 80 decibels is an anthology that contains poetry, monologues and performance pieces written by 15 women. It raises the voices of women of diverse heritage and identity, who are often marginalised in mainstream British Society. All the writers in this anthology are women of colour, and/or identify as LBT.

Big Lottery Awards - Vote Young Identity
Young Identity have been shortlisted for the Big Lottery Awards Education category. If they win, the project will be awarded £5K of funding.
To cast your vote, click here.

Upcoming Events
Ode Pon Road, Oddest Bar, Thursday 29th June
Ode returns to its spiritual home for a one off full bloom June of an event on Thursday 29th June 2017. Featuring one of Peepal Tree Press' acclaimed authors Desiree Reynolds reading from her stunning debut novel, Seduce.
We'll also be welcoming Roma Havers, a poet who spits fire with a smile and is learning her craft as a member of the impressive Young Identity.
Complimenting live lit and spoken word is a dynamic range of musical offering from host Chris Jams new incarnation – Zero Days, blending soul tones, broken beats and acidic beeps.  Alongside Nabb Gang a UK Hip Hop collective whose lyricism saves synapses and music kisses souls. 

Performance at Contact Summer Launch,
Friday 7th July, 5pm til late
Young Identity poets will be showcasing their poetry at Contact's summer launch. A great night is planned with DJs and pop-up performances. It's a chance to meet the artists, and hear from the artistic director Matt Fenton and Contact's Young Programmers about Contact's fantastic Autumn season.
Please RSVP to

Young Identity Flexn performance
In association with Manchester Literature Festival,
Tuesday 11th July, Contact, 7pm
Reggie 'Regg Roc' Gray, director of MIF: FlexN, returns to Manchester for a unique collaboration between a group of young dancers and local spoken word collective Young Identity to explore new ways of telling stories through words and movement. 
Audience Finder Survey
As always, we ask that you complete our Audience Finder survey if you have attended events/workshops at, or run by, Commonword. We are very grateful for the time that is spent completing this survey and we love to hear from you. This feedback is important to us and helps us to ensure that we are doing a good job.
The link directs you to Audience Finder, a tool which enables us to understand, compare, apply audience insights across the UK, and benchmark ourselves against other organisations.
The results, of course, are all anonymous.
Please forward this link to any of your friends and family who may have attended workshops or events with you.

Many thanks, in advance
Identity Writers Group
Every Wednesday 7-9pm at Commonword offices
BAME only Open to all levels of writers; just turn up. From experienced to beginners. Please ring buzzer 6. or email for more details
Monday Night Group
Every Monday 7-9pm in the Snug at the Lass O'Gowrie
Open to all levels of writers, for everyone; just turn up. From experienced to beginners

Young Enigma
Day and time varies.
Open to all young LGBT+ identifying people (no strict restrictions on age).
Email or visit for more info
Young Identity
Open to all young people under 25 for spoken word poetry workshops.
Young Identity HOME  7-9pm  Fortnightly, check HOME website for details.
 Contact 6-8pm and 7-9pm
 Longsight library 6-7:45pm
email for more info about other workshops or visit

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No. 3 Planetree House
21-31 Oldham Street
M1 1JG
There is a buzzer for entry. The office number is 3, the workshop space number is 6.

0161 832 3777



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