MA information evening York St John Creative Writing and Contemporary Literature

On Wednesday 30th November we will be holding a Dialogue Day from 2.30-5pm in SK128. This is an opportunity for you to offer some vital feedback on your engagement with your Literature and Creative Writing Programmes, learn more about prospective careers paths, and reflect on your learning so far. This is intended to be a helpful and informative session to help you during your final year of study, and there will lots of opportunities for group work and discussion. Most importantly, there will be tea, coffee, and cake served for everyone! Please email Anne-Marie ( if you would like to book a place.

After the Dialogue Day, we’ll be holding an MA Information Evening for anyone interested in applying for the MA in Contemporary Literature or the MA in Creative Writing here at YSJ. This will take place on Wednesday 30th November at 5pm in SK037. You will have a chance to hear about the modules on offer, and ask any questions that you might have about postgraduate study. There will be wine and nibbles served at 5pm. Please email Anne-Marie ( if you would like to book a place

Please note that you are welcome to come to both of these events if you wish! I look forward to seeing you, and please do email me if you have any questions.

Recent Events

By Dr Kaley Kramer

Lecturer in English Literature


On Wednesday, seminars were quiet – and not just here: my colleagues across the UK shared stories of students in tears, students anxious in ways that permeated discussions; of colleagues unable to teach what had been planned and spending time with their students just listening and talking. The United States is a global superpower and this decision will have impacts beyond their borders – no less than the Brexit vote sent shockwaves in all directions. While we might feel sheltered by distance and difference from the US, we need to take seriously the psychological and emotional effects of the outpouring of vitriol, misogyny, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and prejudice that marked the presidential campaign and was so carefully and thoroughly reported in UK media. We know, from our own experiences post-Brexit, that political campaigns have cultural effects; that rhetoric used to sway votes can also create an environment that legitimates real violence. University is not separate from the ‘real world’. We are a community brought together for a short time and our borders are permeable: we each bring to this campus our lives, our struggles, our loves; we read literature through all of our experiences. We study the world without ever leaving it.

We stand against that violence.

Dear students: you are beginning, or finishing, or continuing your education in an anxious time. This has always been true but you are new and I would take that anxiety from you, if I could. If you wonder why we demand your best work, why we challenge what is accepted, why we push you beyond your comfort-zone it is because so much of the world asks for only superficial understanding – a sound-bite-click-bait-jingle-commonplace acceptance. Critical thinking breaks the black mirror: literature finds us ‘unexpectedly…living, thinking, acting, and reflecting [in ways that] belong to times and spaces we have never known’. How else, asked Judith Butler in 2013, are we to ‘find ourselves linked with others we have never directly known…to understand that…we share a world?’

Many of us might feel that we no longer recognize the world. And that is without question an anxious state of being. And anxiety produces fear and when we are afraid we forget to be kind. We forget compassion and community. Our world shrinks and we stop looking around us and reaching out for understanding.

Dear students: do not be afraid.

Do not allow fear to silence you. Do not ‘keep calm’. Do not ‘be good’.

Be brave. Listen. Learn. Disagree with each other – with your tutors – with respect and with love. Question what you think you know. Change your mind and change the people around you. We are ethically obligated, continued Butler, to live among those who are different from ourselves, ‘to demand recognition for our histories and our struggles at the same time that we lend that to others’.

Dear students: be kind to each other.

We are here, now. You share a space and time to learn, to think, to take the time you need to look around you and decide what kind of world you will go on to shape. You are all welcome here. You are all precious. We need you all.

The world seems dark and anxious now. But there is a crack, wrote Leonard Cohen (‘Anthem’, 1992), in everything: that’s how the light gets in.

If you would like to read more about York St John University’s commitment to equality and accessibility, please see our Mission Statement (

Electric Reads Submission Opportunity

++ Just days left to submit to Electric Reads’ Young Writers’ Anthology for 2016 ++

Following last year’s bestselling edition, applications close on 31 October for Electric Reads’ second anthology, which aims to gather together work from the best young writers in Britain today.

Free to enter, and open to all writers 25 years old and under, this is a fantastic opportunity for emerging writers to have their work published.

For more information, visit:

Say Owt Slam

Say Owt Slam #12

12th November 2016

Poets pit their words and wits against one another.  Each gets 3 minutes and the audience judges on their favourite winner.  Showcasing some impressive and high energy spoken word!

7.30 / City Screen Basement / £7.

Plus very special guest VANESSA KISUULEslam

She’s smashed Glastonbury, Lounge on the Farm, Secret Garden Party, Wise Words, Wilderness and Shambala, whilst guesting at gigs from Bristol to Birmingham. Vanessa has also won a swathe of slams, most recently The Roundhouse Slam 2014 and Hammer and Tongue National Slam 2014. She’s represented the UK in two European Slam Championships in Sweden and Belgium and her debut poetry collection ‘Joyriding The Storm’ was published in April 2014 by Burning Eye Books. She’s also supported the likes of Linton Kwesi Johnson and Kate Tempest.

National Creative Writing Graduate Fair

The National Creative Writing Graduate Fair, takes place on the 4th November in Manchester. It’s a wonderful opportunity for early career writers to pitch their ideas to industry experts and literary agents; hear a key note speech from author Kit de Waal; network with other writers and members of the publishing industry; and attend workshops and panel discussions on topics such as performing your work, digital publishing and blogging, and writing the perfect submissions package.


YSJ Creative Writing Staff Writing Projects

It’s now week three of the new academic year at York St John and staff and students are settling in to another exciting year of creative inquiry.

YSJ Programme in Creative Writing staff stayed busy over the summer on a number of projects. Here’s a snapshot of what some of us have been up to:

Senior Lecturer Dr Helen Pleasance presented at the True Crime Fictions conference at Birkbeck University of London in July, and she’s been working on a book proposal about creative methodologies in life writing studies. She’s also had a chapter accepted in an edited collection on hybrid memoirs. Creatively, she is preparing a novel with a country and western soundtrack for online publication and undertaking research into a historical short story project about Manchester and the textile industry.

Visiting Lecturer Caleb Klaces contributed to the Paint Her to Your Own Mind exhibition at Shandy Hall, Lawrence Sterne’s house in Coxwold. He also finished a long poem which will be published as a pamphlet by If a leaf falls, poet Sam Riviere’s Edinburgh-based micro-press. He’s also currently working on an article about American poet and novelist Ben Lerner for Poetry London.

Lecturer Dr Naomi Booth has been finishing work on a new piece of fiction, a horror novel that deals with body mutation and is set in the near future. She’s also continuing work on a long piece of literary research about the history of swooning, which will be published as a monograph by Manchester University Press next year.

Lecturer Dr Kimberly Campanello continued work on her forthcoming collection of conceptual and visual poems, MOTHERBABYHOME, forthcoming with zimZalla Avant Objects (Manchester). She was filmed reading these poems for the University College Dublin Irish Poetry Reading Collection and will give a public reading from MOTHERBABYHOME and her previous poetry collection Strange Country at the Irish Literary Society in London in October. She also finished writing her play .

Senior Lecturer Dr Rob Edgar (and Senior Lecturer in English Literature John Marland) have a textbook on the process and theory of adapting literature to film and TV out for peer review.  Rob has also been continuing to develop the book on popular music and memoir with YSJ colleagues. Over the summer he delivered a paper on Arena Concerts at the IASPWM conference in Brighton following the publication of a book on the same topic last year.


Rob Edgar (third from left) presenting at the The International Association for the Study of Popular Music UK and Ireland biennal conference

Subject Director Dr Abi Curtis has just returned from maternity leave. Her one year old’s favourite book is Hairy Maclaray from Donaldson’s Dairy. She has just completed a dystopian novel set in a flooded near-future, and is about to embark on a collaborative project on literature and bees.




Black History Month Creative Writing Competition

October 2016 sees a month long celebration and remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It is celebrated across the world as has been a feature of the UK calendar since 1987.

At York St John we will be participating in Black History Month with a series of events taking place on campus. This will include a month long exhibition in the Arts Foyer and three evening events celebrating art, literature and cultural history (please see below).

As part of our programme we are running a creative writing competition with the winner to be announced at a special evening with the poet Jack Mapanje on 27th October.  We are looking for submissions of no more than 500 words that explore any aspect of black history. We are happy to accept work in prose or verse and encourage you to draw on your educational experiences and beyond.


If you are interested in submitting work then please email it as an MS Word document to Fraser Mann  ( by midnight on 15th October.

The competition is open to all undergraduate and postgraduate students currently studying at York St John.

Happy writing!

Black History Month events at YSJ

The School of Humanities, Religion and Philosophy will be celebrating Black History Month this year with an exhibition of student work and a programme of exciting events.

3rd October 3pm – 4pm Quad South Hall


Interview with Noma Dumezweni

Noma is an internationally recognised actress. She has undertaken several Shakespeare roles including Paulina in the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company), The Winters Tale and more recently Alice and Mistress Quickly, as well as working alongside Jude Law in Henry V.

Amongst numerous stage roles, Noma recently directed, I See You at the Royal Court and appeared in the award winning A Human Being Died That Night which toured to the Hampstead Theatre, the Market Theatre Johannesburg and Brooklyn Academy of music in New York. Both plays explore reconciliation and South Africa after Apartheid.

Currently, Noma is cast as Hermione in the sell-out Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in the West End.

This event will be a discussion about Noma’s roles including in A Human being Dies that Night, I See You, and for the RSC in the west end, a production of Henry V with Jude Law

Event starts at 3.00pm, all guests to be seated in Quad South Hall for a prompt start.

This event is FREE but booking is required. Please visit the YSJ online shop to reserve a space.

5th October – 27th October Arts Foyer

York/New York Exhibition

Earlier this year, English Literature students from the ‘Literature at Work’ module were tasked with developing and creating materials that could be used as part of York St John’s Black History Month 2016 exhibition.

Students have created, developed and curated a range of materials which allow us to celebrate the culture of Harlem, New York, right here on our ‘Old’ York campus. The materials include film, collage, photography and 3D models. Each work is an original and unique take on the cultural history of the Harlem Renaissance.  Please come and explore the work and learn a little more about this exciting moment in black cultural history.

5th October 5pm – 8pm Arts Foyer

York/New York Exhibition Launch Evening

The exhibition will be officially launched with an evening of discussion and live music. The students responsible for the art work and curation of the exhibition will be on hand to talk you through their work and the cultural value they place on the Harlem Renaissance and Black History Month as cultural experiences. The evening will be sound tracked by a four piece jazz band playing wonderful music from the likes of Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday. Come and enjoy a glass of wine with us and celebrate this evocative and enriching cultural moment.

This event is FREE but booking is required. Please visit the YSJ online shop to book your tickets.

26 October, 5.30pm -7pm De Grey 016

Black History Month: Comics Reading Group with Dr Adam Smith


Black Panther and Power Man: Marvel Heroes of the Civil Rights Era

Meet T’Challa and Luke Cage, better known in their heyday as Marvel superheroes Black Panther and Power Man. Among the first African-American superheroes to appear in mainstream American comic books each character’s origins are bound up in both the Civil Rights Movement and the popularity of Blaxploitation cinema in the 1960s and 70s. Now, thanks to Netflix and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, both characters are enjoying global popularity for the first time. As part of YSJ Black History Month we invite you to join us for an informal discussion of some of these characters’ most celebrated comic-book appearances.

Email Adam Smith ( ) for a reading list.

This event is FREE but booking is required please visit the YSJ online shop to secure book a place.

27th October 6.30pm – 8pm Arts Foyer

An Evening with Jack Mapanje

To mark the end of York St John’s Black History Month events, human rights activist and award-winning poet Jack Mapanje will be reading from his latest poetry collection Greetings From Grandpa. Jack will also be discussing his memoir And Crocodiles are Hungry at Night, and reflecting on his time as a political prisoner in Malawi. There will be an opportunity to ask Jack questions about his work, and he will also be signing copies of his poetry. In addition, the winner of the YSJ Black History Month Creative Writing Competition will be announced, and there will be a chance to hear the winning entry.

This event is FREE but booking is required. Please visit the YSJ online shop to book your tickets.

Echoes of the City Edinburgh Opportunity

edinburghWe are looking for stories or poems that based in Edinburgh. They must be under 1300 words or up to 5 pages of poetry. Writers must not have had more than 1 book published – and we really welcome new writers.

Stories/poems can be any style, theme, or genre. 

Authors who are chosen will receive £20 for their contribution and will retain all the rights. The stories/poems will be professionally recorded and geolocated in Edinburgh in the place where the story is set, using Podwalk. The platform will be launched in December, and will remain live on Podwalk for 1 year. In addition the stories will be placed on our website along with a short bio of the author.

Deadline for submissions is Midnight 16 October 2016.




Aesthetica Competition

There is just one month left to enter the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award 2016, presenting an opportunity for emerging and established writers and poets to showcase their work and further their involvement in the literary world. Now in its 10th year, the award is an internationally renowned prize praesesented by Aesthetica Magazine and judged by literary experts.

Prizes include:

  • £500 each (Poetry Winner and Short Fiction Winner)
  • Publication in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual
  • One year subscription to Granta
  • Selection of books courtesy of Bloodaxe and Vintage
  • Consultation with Redhammer Management (Short Fiction Winner)
  • Full Membership to The Poetry Society (Poetry Winner)

Short Fiction entries should be no more than 2,000 words. Poetry entries should be no more than 40 lines. Works previously published are accepted.

Deadline for submissions is 31 August 2016.

To enter, visit