I don't think I've ever been to an arts event quite so well organised as States of Independence at De Montfort University in Leicester yesterday. It came as something of a shock. A website that actually spelt out the whole programme in advance. Lunch vouchers for the stallholders. And for the punters - stalls by dozens of independent publishers, workshops, readings and book launches - all for FREE! I'm still pinching myself.
This event was a very successful collaboration by Five Leaves Publications in Nottingham and the Creative Writing Team at De Montfort University. Let's hope we see more from this pairing. Ross Bradshaw, of Five Leaves, is a force of nature let loose in the regional world of literature. A force of something anyway. He also organises the Lowdham Book Festival in the summer. And this event has the same passion about it. Bringing together regional publishers, writers and readers in one whirl of excitement, the building buzzed all day.
Every meeting I went to was packed out and the bookstalls were thronging. I enjoyed the panel discussion by my own group, Leicester Writers' Club; the launch of the latest snazzy literary magazine, Staple; readings by two authors from Birmingham's Tindal Street Press, and an introduction to the work of Crystal Clear Creators, an innovative arts organisation promoting writers across a range of media. If I could only have cloned myself, I'd have sampled more. In between times, I met so many friends and fellow writers, followed up contacts and caught up on news from across the region.
And I got some free exercise carrying home a bag groaning with new books ....
Writing is a journey, both imaginary and physical. My first book took me to the Arctic to 'catch the colours' of the Northern Lights. Then I hunkered down to catch the wind-blown voices of polar explorers on Shackleton's 1914-17 Endurance expedition. More recently I'm obsessed by space: the race, the rockets, the final frontier.
Hear a BBC Radio Leicester interview about my space poetry at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03wfpyp
Explore my digital narrrative PHILAE'S BOOK OF HOURS, published by the European Space Agency, at:
My prose-poetry collections FIREBRIDGE TO SKYSHORE
and MAD, HOPELESS & POSSIBLE are both published by Original Plus Press at:
Contact me for signed copies or bookings at:
- Leicester, East Midlands
- As a storyteller, my work crosses boundaries of myth, science, history and spoken word. It has been presented in the British Science Museum, Ledbury Poetry Festival, National Space Centre and the European Space Agency website. In 2014 I ran a digital residency on WW1 for 14-18NOW and Writing East Midlands. I teach Creative Writing at De Montfort University and have experience of leading school events, workshop tuition and mentoring.