Category Archives: Student Success Stories

Beyond The Walls 2018: The Art Of It All

Now that both the York Literature Festival and the launch of Beyond the Walls 2018 have drawn to a close and the excitement has begun to subside, there is finally a moment to pause for a breath before the rush of assignments begins. Now there is an opportunity for us, Editorial team 2 of the Beyond the Walls Anthology 2018, to share our experiences from the last 12 weeks.
Nobody can quite prepare you for the volume of work organising a cover for an anthology is, combined with the task of then having to select readers for an event as grand as the York Literature Festival: Beyond the Walls launch. It was a big ask, and an even bigger weight of pressure, made greater by the continual praise of our module director, Dr. Kimberly Campanello, for the previous year’s hard work and success on the module. The reputation of our predecessors was upon us, and we weren’t about to be the team that couldn’t maintain it. But amidst all of that pressure, we pulled it off and in doing so learnt a little about the industry and gained some valuable skills for the future.

So, here’s how we did it:

The Process
The process of selecting the cover started on the rocks. The call for submissions showed us that even though there is a wide community of artists at York St John, to begin with not everyone was as excited about Beyond the Walls as we were. Initially, we didn’t receive very many submissions, but thanks to the hard work of the Promotions team, we eventually had a total of 27 artwork submissions, all of a high standard, meaning that our decision wasn’t an easy one. We were presented with a variety of styles and forms of art work for the cover, meaning that we had to decide what the overall vision we wanted for this year’s cover was going to be, in comparison to last year’s. Once we had decided, we compiled a list of our first choice down to our last to be reviewed by Kimberly and our Subject Director Dr. Naomi Booth who agreed our choice:

The winning design above was sent across to Jamie McGarry, who integrated it into Valley Press’s house style, producing this result:

When the final choice was made, our work was by no means over. Preparations for the event itself were well underway and with the main attraction out of the way we were then tasked with selecting five readers for the launch event. Which in itself was difficult because all of the work included in the anthology as selected by Editorial team 1 was of a very high standard. This was an important part of the process as we had to ensure that we selected a nice range of both forms and styles. Being involved in the event first-hand meant that we were able to see the event start to come together at the dress rehearsal, and hear some of the beautiful work from the anthology spoken aloud.

The Module
We thought we would also use this opportunity to briefly discuss the Publishing Production and Performance module and the valuable information we have learnt about the industry over the course of the semester. For anyone in first year joint or single honours creative writing, we would highly suggest selecting this module in your second year. Not only do you learn so much from guest speakers who vary from writers, to publishers and agents, but you also come away with a better understanding of running events, writing cover letters to publishers and the importance of literary movements. All of this helps to shape your own writing through a better understanding of the publishing industry.

This module forces you out of your comfort zone in the best sort of way.

Valley Press
The contact with independent publishers such as Valley Press, who we have been collaborating with to publish the anthology this year, was an enlightening experience and introduced us to the pressures that publishers face regularly to create high-quality events and products. It feels rewarding for all of on the module to have this opportunity and knowing that at the end of it all we were part of creating a successful launch and a beautiful anthology. What other module on the English literature or creative writing degrees would allow you to work first hand with a publisher and even visit their headquarters?

Editorial Team 2
Beyond the Walls 2018

BA Creative Writing Student Profiles

Students on the 2nd year BA (Hons) Creative Writing module Publishing, Production and Performance compiled writer profiles from their colleagues.

Alex McGowan

I am a second year Creative Writing and English Literature student. I love studying at York St John and I have learnt so much more about my craft by coming here. Now my writing is so much stronger and I have the confidence to try new forms, for example script.

My writing tends to lean towards the spooky and macabre, but I adore grounding this in friendships and ordinary life. Currently, my favourite author is V. E. Schwab, I adore her world building and the way she develops character. At the moment I am slowly working on an urban fantasy novel known as ‘Late Nights’, here is an extract from it:

It was recommended that tourists avoid the street of Hallow Way in Barebrough. It was the site of the towns graveyard and Mason House. This building was an old block of flats overrun by ivy and virginia creeper. The house was comprised of three storeys each with its own unique style. The ground floor was made of brown brick and has blacked out windows, designed for the more sensitive guests. The first floor had bricks that appeared to be burnt black and the arched windows curved inward. The second floor was red bricked and had Georgian style windows.

Even after living here for three years Isaac still found that the longer they stared at the building the more askew it became. Though they had bigger things to worry about right then. Isaac had left their keys at work, again. No amount of bag rummaging and muttered swearing had helped to solve the problem. All their bag had coughed up was a tub of chocolate spread, a broken mug and two strips of Strattera. Isaac made the executive decision to give up searching when a shiver ran up their arms. At the obscenely large door they whispered, “Please.”

Twitter: @alex_h_l_m

Charlotte Bennett

I joined York St John University in the Autumn of 2016 to study Creative Writing. I am currently a member of the Promotional team for the launch of Beyond the Walls 2018. I am also a part-time tutor of English and maths at Explore Learning. After reading poems written by my Dad, the spark of my interest in the creative arts was lit. I enjoy reading all lengths of fiction, and my preference of writing surrounds the world of poetry and short stories.

I was published in the 2017 edition of Beyond the Walls with my two poems: ‘We March’ and ’26 Letters of Courage’ which you can read below:

26 Letters of Courage 

Always breathing

Courage does

Exist. Forged

Godlike her

Imagination jumps,

Kicks. Levitates

Minds. Never

One person.

Questing radiantly

She thrives

Untamed. Voyaging

With xenia,

Youthfully zoetic.

She is courage.

 

WE MARCH

Hands holding, minds moulding, we unfold the truth

We the people, the women, the men

Our Future is female

The present ours to take

 

Why are you marching?

We march to change lives, save lives

We march to live a better life

Free from aggression, oppression is not progression

March forwards

 

Fight like a girl

I will not be silent

We will not be silent,

So Hear our voices

Respect existence, expect resistance

 

Twitter: @charlottesvoice

Instagram: charlotteee666

 

Tia Welsh

I am a Second Year Single Honours Creative Writing Student. I absolutely love this course. Reading and writing is pretty much an everyday habit for me (I can’t get enough of it!) My writing is inspired by everything and anything. Authors such as Neil Gaiman, Ransom Riggs and Joanne Harris have influenced my writing style, which tends to relate a lot to water.  I have even been lucky enough to meet Joanne Harris at my home’s literary Festival; Manx Lit Fest in the Isle of Man and have my own poem published as part of an anthology.

I also happen to be a Course Representative and enjoy supporting all my course mates, ensuring they remain happy during their time of study. I have written opening chapters for two of my novels and a play on homelessness-I hope to develop these further into the future!

You can follow me on:

Twitter: @TiaWelshIoM ‏

The Trip to the Beyond: Editing Beyond the Walls 2018

Editorial Team 1 developed many lifelong skills and useful industry knowledge during the production of Beyond the Walls 2018, including how to face and overcome professional challenges. This blog post will give insight into what was expected of the team, activities we have completed, and the numerous valuable experiences we have had on the Publishing, Production and Performance module.

Overview of our role

Our team was tasked with organising and reviewing all submissions for the anthology. We also decided on the acceptance of pieces based on specific parameters provided by the module director on behalf of the YSJ Creative Writing course. This included selecting work by all 3rd year and MA students and ensuring that the material was appropriate for international distribution, whilst also doing our best to guarantee that York St John’s reputation, including all individuals working on this project, remained at a high standard. We also had to make sure the length of the anthology didn’t exceed the price point for the publisher and its eventual readers. This process was overseen by the module director, Dr. Kimberly Campanello, who made final decisions on the manuscript.

Another important aspect of our role for the Beyond the Walls Anthology was producing the manuscript. We imported all final pieces into a document and focused on finalising format and layout, writing the preface and acknowledgements, and ensuring that all names were spelt correctly whilst adhering to other requirements. Arguably, this was our favourite part of our role since we could finally witness the anthology coming together; the challenges we had endured at the beginning of the project were non-existent at this point since we only felt euphoria at producing the final manuscript.

Beyond the Walls 2018

We thoroughly enjoyed reading the variety of pieces submitted to the anthology, which had doubled since last year thanks to the work of the Promotions team, and we found it extremely difficult to not exceed the word count as there was so much strong work to potentially include. Working with Valley Press for the first time this year meant we had stricter deadlines than previous years, which pushed us to use a professional manner and maintain our editorial integrity at all times.

 

Trip to Woodend

Woodend in Scarborough

We visited Valley Press in Scarborough during this module to learn about the publishing process from the professional who would be assisting us with Beyond the Walls 2018, publisher Jamie McGarry.

We were informed of the short background of his company as he then explained all aspects of publishing from costs and printing, to roles in his team, genres preferred and the importance of an audience. This information was invaluable and encouraged us to change our approach to the anthology, ensuring professionalism and working closely with the other teams on the module to ensure that this project was to the highest standard; a piece of work we could be proud of.

Guest Speakers

Throughout the module we have had many guest speakers visit our class to share their professional experience. For our team, the speakers who have had the largest impact on our work include:

  • Rob O’Connor, the Director of York Literature Festival, who shared with us the importance of planning ahead, providing insight into areas we were not fully aware of, and expressing how important all our roles are to the York Literature Festival in regard to the anthology.
  • Donald Winchester, Professor Abi Curtis’s literary agent, who spoke about the agent-author relationship, offered advice on how to write to publishers and agents, and gave us knowledge of what to expect of writers submitting to our anthology.
  • Jamie McGarry, founder of Valley Press, who shared all aspects of publishing with us and has worked closely with our entire group to produce Beyond the Walls

Teamwork

From the beginning of this project we attempted to delegate jobs to different individuals at various times depending on who was available, therefore trying to create a fair workload for all. Being a team of 13 was extremely beneficial at the beginning of the project as it allowed us to read the submissions and gain an overall majority very quickly. However, towards the end of the project this became more difficult due to the various documents we had to write, making it challenging for us all to approve the style of writing and information included. We relied on our weekly meetings to discuss any issues and focused on creating documents during this time. We solely used professional communication channels, specifically Trello and email, which was sometimes challenging for us as students who are used to using social media in our personal lives.

To conclude, this project has been extremely valuable in developing our professionalism, creating a relationship with the publishing world, and forcing us to work to the best of our ability individually and as a team. This project is one we will never forget.

 

Editorial Team 1

Beyond the Walls Anthology 2018

Publishing, Production, Performance Module

 

Report on University Camarade by Abby Knowles, MA student

I’ve never been very good at sharing. I’ll be polite to your face during tapas but when you take the last olive I will abandon you quicker than I dropped my plan to wax at home on a weekly basis (pretty much immediately).

University Camarade performers and their lecturers

With this in mind, I applied to be part of University Camarade. This show is part of a wider event called The Enemies Project, that is being curated by SJ Fowler (www.stevenjfowler.com). The project is about ‘Contemporary poetry in collaboration, Innovative live literature and Performance Art’ (www.theenemiesproject.com). It’s basically poets sharing; their experiences, knowledge and performance space.

I was accepted onto the project and together with Tom Young, David Yeomans and Joe Shaw, we were paired with a student from another University and asked to create a five-minute experimental poem to perform in London.

What the Chuff is Experimental Poetry?

Good question. Apparently, a lot of things could be classed as experimental poetry: lists or streams of consciousness or shouting a nursery rhyme while sitting on a melon thinking about George Osborne.

The lovely thing about this genre is that you get to throw the ‘traditional’ rule books out the window. You can chuck your stanzas and your enunciation and your commas. Experimental poetry, for me, is all about the experience of the performance and the process reading of a non

                                                                                                                                                                        traditional

                                                                                                                                                                                                poem

                                                                                                                                                                                                               (ta-da!).

The Weekend in London Town

‘Kimberly Campanello’s love of books is more contagious than impetigo’, is a well-known phrase in the Creative Writing department (made up by me, just now).

As part of the weekend, Joe, Tom, David and I were accompanied to London with Kimberly and shown some of her favourite sights around the city. We visited the British Library, The Poetry Library, had half a pint at The French House (they only serve halves so it takes longer for all the writers to get pissed) and went to the alley where Dryden was stabbed to smile for a selfie.

This may sound strange for a Creative Writing student, but before I applied for this course I didn’t read a lot. I used to read when I was at school: I was avid and would write quotes on my bedroom walls in silver pen and I could spend hours in a book shop or library. When I read I felt clever, worthwhile and bloody marvellous.

Little by little I stopped reading. I worked. Ate. Had a baby, turned on the tv. I stopped being curious.

But then I went to London at the weekend with some writers and an engaging tutor. That young, intelligent girl I’ve kept stuffed full of reality tv and Maltesers got to peep out. I was spoken to as a writer and I felt encouraged and valued and really fucking happy.

I ended the trip in a bookshop. I bought myself something random just because the cover looked interesting and I bought my daughter a book about amazing women to read to her bedtime. I’ve hardly watched any tv since.

The University Camarade Process

Tom (partnered with Michael Sutton from Edge Hill University): “We had the balance of getting on with our own things but we came back and wrote in response to each other.”

David (partnered with Kieran Wyatt from Edge Hill University): “We emailed our poems back and forth with increasing frequency. I found I was looking forward to each new draft.”

Joe (partnered with Jennah Fletcher from Kingston University): “It was a challenge with distance and communication, but it’s made me learn about my own writing process and style.”

Me (partnered with Vilde-Valerie Torset from Kingston University): “I worried we wouldn’t have any common ground but once we started talking the process became easy.”

The subject matter for our poems varied: David and Kieran wrote about entrapment and enclosure, an intelligent piece conveying characters in contrast to one another.

Tom and Michael focused on their train journeys home (this is a basic description for what was an ELECTRIFYING performance – put your tea down and watch it now, right now).

Joe wrote about Sophia the Robot and how it has got Citizenship when a lot of humans don’t have that basic right. Jennah’s subject matter was different but their performance together was cleverly timed and delivered so that the poems became one entity.

Vilde-Valarie and I wrote about the performances we do as women, she from a young person’s point of view, me from a married mother’s point of view.

The Performance

Was fucking terrifying. The microphone looked enormous and I could hardly look up from my piece of paper.

Having said that, there was nothing but encouragement and support from the audience and fellow poets. Looking back at the performance, you can’t even tell I’m shaking and now I can’t wait to get back on stage and do some more poetry.

I will know for next time that microphones aren’t that intimidating and that five minutes is not a long time once you’re up there. If you get the chance to be part of this project you really should (even if it’s just to visit a library with Kimberly – that was worth it in itself).

As Tom so succinctly put it: ‘can we do that all over again?’

To view all our trip photos on Twitter click here.

Promoting Beyond the Walls 2018: Hello from the promotion team!

 

Promotions Team

This year we are already hard at work advertising the Beyond the Walls 2018 anthology, which will be published by Valley Press. So, here’s a quick update of what we’ve done, what’s coming up and how you can stay involved.

Just to let you know that the deadline to hand in your creative work for this anthology is 16th February. You may submit work previously written for your modules. The submission guidelines are:

  1. You must provide a cover letter that includes your name, programme and year of study.
  2. The max word count for prose (fiction or non-fiction) is 1200 words.
  3. The max number of poems is 3.
  4. The max number of images as JPEGS or a link to a portfolio is 3.
  5. You may submit in more than one genre/form.

You can email your work as attachments to: beyondthewalls2018@outlook.com

Our job as the promotion team is to promote the creation of the book and then the event that launches it. So, for now we are focusing on promoting the submission itself. To do this we had team meeting to create our social media.

First, we looked at previous years’ accounts and made the goal to have a stronger presence on these sites. The Facebook we created has already reached this goal.

Facebook Post

Facebook Post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come join on Facebook at YSJ Beyond the Walls 2018.

Our Twitter has also gained a following and even appeared in the SU:

SU Feed

Follow us at @beyondwalls2018

And last but certainly not least is our Instagram account, which you can find by searching: ysjbeyondthewalls2018.

Instagram Post

We knew it was important to get the word out, so we decided to come into lectures and speak to you face to face. Over tea and toasties, we organised who was going where and how we would inform you. We’ve already visited a few lectures and it has been and will continue to be a successful venture.

In the future we will be using our social media accounts to promote the launch which is part of York Literature Festival. This free event will take place on 21st March 2018 at 6.30pm in The Basement (City Screen). It includes readings by Valley Press authors Nigel Forde and Nora Chassler. Don’t forget to book your free tickets here.

We can’t wait to read your work so please remember to submit before the deadline the 16th February.

York St John Creative Writing Students Perform in London

In February, four York St John Creative Writing students will perform collaborative experimental pieces.

University Camarade III – February Saturday 10th 2018: 

Rich Mix, London

7PM – FREE ENTRY / VENUE 2 / 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA www.richmix.org.uk

A unique collaborative event, students from the Creative Writing departments of Kingston University, Edge Hill University, York St John, and Glasgow present a dozen brand new works in collaboration. Featuring:

YVONNE LITSCHEL & BRONTE PLEASANTS
VILDE TORSET & ABBY KNOWLES
JAMIE TOY & EDWIN STEVENS
SILJE REE & HANNAH SUMMERS
EMILY MOYCE & JAI BROUGH
AMJAD HAJYASSIN & LUCY CASH
JENNAH FLETCHER & JOE SHAW
SVETLANA ONYE & HEATHER O’DONNELL
TOM YOUNG & MICHAEL SUTTON
KIERAN WYATT & DAVID YEOMANS

Abby Knowles

 

Abby Knowles is a poet from North Yorkshire. Struggling with work, childcare and wifing while gaining her Master’s Degree in Creative Writing, Abby is usually one solid poem away from a hilarious mental breakdown. Last week she did the school run with her trousers on backwards.

 

 

 

Tom Young

 

 

Cooking smoke. Aching knees. Heckles, hockles, shocks and burns. Dust from under floorboards congealing into thick, black mud in the nose. Weepy weekend people blowing home, howling into the hills. Fat heads, fat tongues. Malignant breaths, exuding regrets. Dead dells. Thomas Jonathon Young writes memories from the Dales of Durham.

 

 

             

 

Joe Shaw

 

 

Joe Shaw is an experimental poet and visual artist studying at York St. John university. His writing explores the concepts of queer aesthetics and identity. He won the Northern Youth’s ‘Slay on Words’ – a poetry slam collaboration between York universities in 2017.

 

 

 

 

David Yeomans chose the Creative Writing MA at York St John University to deepen his knowledge and practice of writing. Although set on course to write mass-market thrillers, he has found poetry and needs to explore this form. When not writing, he works as a full time NHS psychiatrist.

 

 

 

Lecturer Helen Pleasance reports on the Annual Whitby Writing Retreat

So, it’s mid November. So, it’s the start of Reading Week. So, it’s the Whitby Writing Retreat. So, it’s one of the highlights of the YSJ Creative Writing calendar.

Photo by Adam Smith

Photo by Adam Smith

So, what is not to love about this trip? We arrive at the Abbey House Youth Hostel after dark, to sleep on the cliff top above Whitby town, nestled between the Whitby Abbey ruins and St Mary’s Churchyard, famously used as a setting in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. ‘It’s creepy as hell, I love it,’ as one student says.

So, some students claim it is the bunk beds, or the pillows, or noises of fellow-hostel dwellers, or other such trifling material discomfort that keeps them awake on that first night. But we know it is the staff readings which have opened up the space between the physical and the spirit worlds… and that it is the fear of what is coming in at the rattling window panes on the unceasing wind that makes them skulk under their duvets and search for light in the early hours.

Writing workshop at the hostel.

Writing workshop at the hostel.

So, everyone is in the perfect state for a day of Gothic writing on our full day in Whitby. ‘The environment you write in changes the flavour of your writing’, ‘Whitby is beautiful in the mist’, ‘The sea is always a source of inspiration’, ‘Great views of the abbey and the beach’, ‘Spending time in nature’, ‘How valuable quiet space is, with no responsibilities’, ‘Amazing’,  ‘More of  a flavour of the environment. Perfect for inspiring some writing’, ‘That writing in unusual settings can produce unexpected results’, ‘Beautiful. Gothic. Close to everything. Historic. GREAT’, ‘Atmospheric’, ‘Is there a better writing location in the North East?’ are just a few of the things students say about this inspirational place.

Proper headgear is essential. Lecturers Helen Pleasance, Kimberly Campanello and Adam Smith.

Warm headgear is essential. Lecturers Helen Pleasance, Kimberly Campanello and Adam Smith.

So, by, at the end of the day, the student readings show just how much the Whitby atmosphere has got into our bones and our marrow. ‘Great to hear passion and love for the craft’, ‘Hearing high quality work from peers is inspiring’, ‘We all felt so together’, ‘Be ballsy and read my work out loud’, ‘Everybody cried’. The Whitby Writing Retreat love seems to spreading through us all.

 

…And so, it will be mid-November again. And so, we will return to Whitby, where land and sea and sky converge. And so, we will go through the tear in the fabric of space and time again, where writing and companionship and new connections can creep in and take hold…

For more photos, you view the Storify of the YSJ retreat here.

Bandit Fiction – accepting submissions

We are now accepting submissions for our debut pamphlet in December. If you would share our website with students who might be seeking publication, or those specialising in creative writing and the humanities, I would be grateful. (www.banditfiction.co.uk/submissions)  The submission deadline for this issue is October 31st, and we are currently accepting a maximum wordcount of 3500.bandit

YSJ MA Creative Writing student wins prize

MA Creative Writing student Rachel McHale has just won the Writers Bureau Short Story Competition for her story ‘Bonfire’. The story also featured on Broadsides produced for the Student Showcase event at York Literature Festival in March, which was curated by YSJ 2nd year BA Creative Writing students.

Broadside of extract from 'Bonfire' designed by Andrew Kukk and commissioned by 2nd year BA Creative Writing students

Broadside of extract from ‘Bonfire’ designed by Andrew Kukk and commissioned by 2nd year BA Creative Writing students

Congratulations Rachel! You can read the story here.