Anthology Launch/Showcase Rehearsal

Last night in Quad South Hall, Creative Writing students from the Events Team on the 2nd year Publishing, Production and Performance module ran a rehearsal ahead of next week’s launch/student Showcase. Members of the Showcase Curatorial Team were also there to offer last minute input.


The Events and Curatorial Teams prepare for the run-through.


A reader rehearses.



Checking tech with Richard Lawrence

With the help of technical staff member Richard Lawrence, students did a run-through with the evening’s performers and finalized room set-up plans.


Room set-up planning


Next week promises to be a wonderful occasion to celebrate Creative Writing at YSJ. Students have written all content for the event, and students have promoted, curated, and planned the evening. Book your free ticket here!


March 28 Set-list



Beyond the Walls Anthology Launch & Student Showcase

On March 28 at the York Literature Festival, YSJ Creative Writing students will launch the 2017 Beyond the Walls anthology and host a series of readings showcasing YSJ writing talent.

The anthology and showcase are edited and curated by 2nd year BA Creative Writing students.

On the night you can obtain your free copy of the anthology as well as two beautiful Broadsides featuring work by two Showcase readers. This year’s anthology cover is designed by BA Design student Ellen Shaw. The Broadsides were designed by BA Design student Andrew Kukk.


Cover of the 2017 Beyond the Walls anthology


The event has been planned and promoted by 2nd year BA Creative Writing students and includes refreshments. Book your free ticket here!

An Evening with Sameer Rahim of Prospect Magazine

On Monday 27th February students on the Publishing, Production and Performance module attended a session with guest speaker Sameer Rahim, a reviewer for the Telegraph, and Arts and Book Editor for Prospect. During the session, Sameer delivered informative insight into the literary industry, and gave some valuable guidance to students looking to work in that line of business.

YSJ Creative Writing Lecturer Kimberly Campanello interviews Sameer Rahim in our class session

Lecturer Kimberly Campanello interviews Sameer Rahim in our class session

 Career Trajectory:

Sameer fell into literary journalism as an editor for the student newspaper during his studies at Cambridge. He went on to teach, and then worked on the Oxford English Dictionary; he looked through English words derived from Arabic and Persian, checking and correcting them.

Fact: The next Oxford Dictionary will be published in 2037.

After several stints in various professions, Sameer sent out letters looking for work and valuable experience. For a year, he interned at the London Review of Books (LRB). During his internship, he developed his editorial skills to a high standard; as a fact-checker, he had to read each written piece carefully. He revealed how the editorial process produces a very different finished piece from what was originally put forward. An editor can do a lot to help a writer develop their craft during this process. Sameer pointed out that using as few words as possible is the best way to write; clarity and structure are important features of good work.

Fact: Sameer went to Syria after his internship at the London Review of Books for six months and studied Arabic.

Sameer went on to review for companies like The Sunday Times and London Review of Books. He then got a job at The Telegraph and remained there for seven years before moving on to Prospect as the Arts and Books Editor.

Reviewing for The Telegraph:

The average day consists of receiving up to fifty books a day. From that selection, only fourteen books are reviewed for publication in the ten/twelve pages the public sees. Four reviews are 2500-3000 words long. Each review works to be honest, point out the good as well as the bad, and entertain the mass market readership The Telegraph attracts.

Reviewing for Prospect Magazine:

There is a clear difference between Prospect and The Telegraph and Sameer points this out through his experience with both companies. Reviewing for a monthly magazine enables the texts reviewed to be in-depth and explorative of the ideas highlighted. There are five/six long reviews that consist of 2000-2500 words, followed by eight short reviews each 250 words. The length of these reviews means they must be economical. The magazine centres their reviews on non-fiction texts, not leaving much room for fiction. Two supplements were developed as a result; one is published during the summer, and the other in the winter.

The Cons of the Job:

As Sameer started with the not-so-glamourous technicalities of the job, so shall we. Sameer’s job is one of organisation and time management. There’s a lot of sorting stuff out and making sure others stick to the time schedule, as well as yourself.

If you wanted to work as a reviewer, it’s important that you know exactly who you work for, and that doesn’t mean the name of the business. You have to know your audience. What you write is a reflection of who your work for; there is often an in-house style you will be expected to write in.

The Pros of the Job:

Editing is incredibly fun.

Sameer suggests we probably disagree, but this is where the real writing begins. Moving paragraphs to create structure, line-by-line edits and directing the writer to address these changes results in a distinct and coherent piece that is ready to be published.

Sameer laughed with students about how we should feel in pain if there is a spelling mistake, or a grammatical error: it’s the key to making your work great. Typos are a common mistake, and there is no denying that we all do it. Except there is no excuse. Typos have the ability to colour another person’s view of your character. Readers and editors are likely to assume terrible things – you have a laziness of thought, you haven’t thought about it as much as you might have, or perhaps there’s a lack of pride.

Read, read, and reread your work. That goes for everything.

Advice to Students:

It’s easier than it’s ever been to get in touch with the literary industry. Twitter is a great platform to connect with these individuals. Social media enables you to talk to people you wouldn’t normally be able to meet, and these interactions are visible long after they have ended. It’s a great way to prove your involvement with the literary environment, especially now that we live in a world where our potential employers can check our social media profiles before offering us a job.

Work experience is another great way to get yourself out there and learn hands on about the industry. Whether your spend a few weeks somewhere, or a whole year, you can build contacts with people in-the-know.

Sameer points out that the editor and writer are two separate identities. They are frames of mind you must differentiate between. The editor is unafraid of the work in front of them. They look at words on a page and scribble in margins, crossing out words and sharpening their prose. The writer, however, is controlled by self-doubt; there is an anxiety towards the words they write. It is because of these two mind-sets that it is difficult to be the editor of your own work, and you have to turn that inner-editor off. Seek out people you trust to read your work. The best writers are those who are able to accept the constructive criticism thrown at them. If you struggle with writing, maybe you are dyslexic, don’t let your struggle hold you back. We all need to be edited, even the majestic J.K Rowling.

The literary industry is powered by luck and keen-minded individuals. You should be curious. If you want to specialise in something, go specialise.

Keep going and don’t be discouraged was a theme of the night.

This post was written by the Promotions Team on the 2nd year BA (Hons) Creative Writing module Publishing, Production and Performance.  

Slay on Words

“Slay on Words
@The Habit, Goodramgate
Doors Open at 7pm
Over at SayOwtSlam HQ a momentous YORK SLAM is brewing; poets representing the University of York, York St John’s and “the community” are sharpening their tongues for a head-to-head around Easter 2017.

Enter Slay On Words II
15 poets from YSJ have 3 minutes each to pour out lines of lyrical genius to our host of randomly selected judges, in order to go forth and represent at the YORK SLAM!

Poets from UoY are in conversation with a few jazz musicians for an experimental little mix up. A jazz and poetry interlude for a cosy slam at the Habit.

Hosted by cool cat named Samra Mayanja

Tickets will be available online and OTD
Up for performing? Email:”

Behind the Scenes with Beyond the Walls and York Station Stories Promotion Team

Planning an event and constructing an anthology of contemporary writing is no small feat.

As writers, we are more comfortable hunkered over our laptops or notebooks feverishly writing (what we hope is) a next bestseller or work of great literature. Usually we don’t dabble in promotions, or outreach, or marketing.

Until now.

On the Creative Writing degree’s Publishing, Production and Performance module, we are learning and applying these skills.

Now we are faced with contingency plans. We are combing through project deliverables. We are setting ourselves deadlines and goals.

In a guest lecture by Dr. Brendan Paddison, Senior Lecturer in Business at York St John, our eyes were opened to implements of project management. Project deliverables in particular, were stressed as a key aspect of planning. With deliverables we learned we could give the project clear definition by categorising specific outputs for each project milestone. Taking heed of Dr. Paddison’s words, our team assembled into a tighter, more focused force, assigning each person a specific job to help lighten the workload within the group and ensure that every task is complete.

Dr. Brendan Paddison, guest speaker on our module

Dr. Brendan Paddison, guest speaker on our module

As of late, our team has been fixed on promoting submissions for the Beyond the Walls anthology through social media. But, as with any project, there have been setbacks, particularly in regards to submission numbers.

However, when Louise Gash, the Conference and Events Manager at York St John, had her guest lecture she talked about how to successfully plan an event and see it through.

Louise Gash, YSJ Conference and Event Manager

Louise Gash, YSJ Conference and Event Manager

During this lecture she also gave us some valuable pro-tips about what we should have in mind when promoting the submissions for the anthology over social media, such as how often to post and when it’s most likely to be read by our followers.

Thereafter, we focused a lot more on gaining followers on our social media accounts, to then regularly updating it with information and spreading the word about the anthology.

Tweeting effectively

Tweeting effectively

We also decided that only promoting the submissions online weren’t enough, so we contacted lecturers at York St John and went to their classes to speak to the students for a few minutes in order to promote submissions for Beyond the Walls.

Promoting YLR Submissions

Promoting YLR Submissions

After this the submissions increased, and at the time of the deadline we’d got a good amount of submissions for our editorial team to go through and pick out the best works.

Promotion and outreach is quite a bit more difficult than what one might think at first. There’s a constant updating of the social media accounts, managing deadlines and making sure that the word gets out about what you’re promoting. We’ll be taking all of this experience with us when we now start promoting the third year York St John Creative Writing students’ event York Station Stories, which will take place on the 21st of March during the York Literature festival.

So write that down in your planners, York Station Stories 21st of March, 7.00-9.00pm in Quad South Hall, York St John University. It is a FREE event, although you need to sign up for it, which you can do here.

Until next time,

– The Promotion/Outreach Team

The annual Beyond the Walls anthology is edited, promoted and launched by students on the 2nd year BA Creative Writing module Publishing, Production and Performance.

Wildlife and York Poetry Society

World Wildlife Day is on the third of March this year, and the York Poetry Society is hosting a special event on that date in order to celebrate it and to raise some money to donate to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and to the World Wildlife Fund.

Pupils of Huntington Secondary School between the ages of 11 and 15 were invited to take part in a poetry-writing competition, writing poems on the theme of “Wildlife”.  The response has been wonderfully enthusiastic with 350 entries.

We have invited the winners of the competition, plus additional runners-up, to come to our meeting to read their poems.  They will take turns with adults reading poetry to do with wildlife themes, including four poets who live locally, Pat Borthwick, Helen Burke, John Gilham and Mairi MacInnes, all of whom have had new books published within the past year.

This event will be at held at Jacob’s Well, Trinity Lane, York, from 7:30 to around 9:30.  Admission will be £5 for singles, £8 for family tickets, refreshments included.

Student Showcase – Spy in the Den


On the 28th of March York St John University is hosting a prestigious event – The Student Showcase and Beyond the Walls Anthology book launch. As part of York Literature Festival, students have a wonderful opportunity to get their writing read and heard by the public.

Whether you’ve dabbled in words or see yourself as a seasoned writer, the Showcase curators want your creative work to create a unique performance of York St John’s writing talent.

While we avidly await your submissions (details of how here), here is what’s happening behind the scenes of our 2017 Student Showcase.

Our Outreach Team are currently promoting the event. You might have seen our tweets at @ysjshowcase17 and if not, check out our Twitter. You’re missing out on 140 character gems like this:

Conversation Tweet

Outreach Team Tweet


And of course:

Dinner Tweet

Outreach Team Humour


We already have several submissions, and our Editing Team are hard at work. While half our seminar are reading through your creative work, others are working side by side with YSJ’s design students to create our stunning broadsides which your work could be printed on.

Editing Team

Editing Team

Many of our editors, when asked, have mentioned how they look forward to the “challenging” time ahead, and how they look forward to “reading through [your] work, and seeing the talent” YSJ is helping to develop.

Our Events Team are working hard to create a gorgeous evening of drinks, food and the written word. They’re creating plans to put our rehearsal together, organising potential guests, and making sure YSJ’s Student Showcase and Beyond the Walls Anthology book launch runs as smoothly as the words you create.

Joe Shaw of the Events Team told us he looked forward to “seeing our vision come to life” on the night, 28th March at Quad South (QS/030) 6-8pm.

Events Team

Events Team

If you don’t want to submit, but want to join us for the evening follow this link to book your free ticket: CLICK HERE

Did we mention there’s free food?

In the meantime, get writing and send us your submissions by 8 pm on Tuesday 28th February.

–The Outreach Team

The Student Showcase is curated, promoted and planned by students on the 2nd year BA Creative Writing module Publishing, Production and Performance.

Creative Writing Student Showcase Performance Opportunity Call for Submissions

Do you love creative writing? Here is the perfect opportunity for you to perform your work at York Literature Festival! Submissions for York St John’s very own Student Showcase are now open.
Every year we show the best of YSJ’s student writing at one of the most prestigious literature festivals in the country – and you could have the chance to represent our university!
Authors of the submissions chosen will read an excerpt of their piece at the showcase. Two of the lucky readers will have their pieces beautifully produced as broadsides that will be distributed at the event – the perfect keepsake for a memorable evening!
The showcase is on the 28th March 6-8pm and takes place in Quad South Hall. Don’t worry – no prior performance experience is required! There will be a rehearsal before the event with ample time to practice.
We will accept submissions of poetry (50 lines max) and prose (2000 words max) – including short stories, flash fiction, and creative non-fiction. Feel free to send us any work you like, whether it be completely new or something dwelling at the bottom of your desk drawer – it doesn’t matter! 
Send your submissions to with your name and either poetry or prose written in the subject line. Please include a short cover letter and bio in your email and attach your work as a Microsoft Word file.
Submissions close at 8pm on the 28th February.
Don’t want to submit, but still want to support our university’s wonderful writers? Book your free ticket to the event (1)
If you have any questions feel free to email us at the address above or send us a tweet @YSJshowcase17.
We look forward to hearing from you!

Beyond the Walls Anthology Call for Submissions

It’s that time again! The York Literature Festival is coming up in March, and York St John University Creative Writing students are creating our own event launching Beyond The Walls, a published anthology showcasing YSJ student Creative Writing.

The student editors are looking for submissions from any and all writers at the York St John University. Chosen work will be published in the Beyond The Walls anthology 2017. Additionally, two of the chosen writers will have an opportunity to read their work at Student Showcase/Beyond The Wall anthology launch on the 28th of March at the York Literature Festival.

 Submission Guidelines

We are looking for fiction, poetry and flash fiction on any subject or theme.


  1. max 1200 word count for prose
  2. max 3 poems per submission


You must provide a cover letter and short (max 50 words) bio of yourself along with your submission. Submit via email to


The submission window is open on February 10 and closes at 11:59 pm on Feb 22. ***Please note the deadline has been extended to 11:59 pm on Feb 25.****



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Jack Sheffield – author visit


York St John is looking forward to welcoming Jack Sheffield, author of the bestselling Teacher series, to discuss his experience of writing and publishing and to read to us from his novels  on the 15th of March at 2:00 in De Grey Lecture Theatre. Jack’s books are set in a fictional primary school in North Yorkshire, and they are well loved by school children and adults alike from across the globe.  In late January Jack was awarded the honorary title of Cultural Fellow of York St John University, and we are looking forward to working with Jack for many years to come.

Jack’s presentation should appeal to a wide variety of readers and writers at York St John, in particular Creative Writing students who are interested in writing for young adults or children, and Literature and Education students who are interested in careers in Primary Education.

Jack’s presentation will take place from 2:00 to 3:00, and it will be followed by coffee and cake in De Grey foyer from 3:00 – 4:00.  The presentation is open to the public.  Tickets are free, but you need to book through EventBrite on the following link:51e34aY3K+L._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_