York St John Con – Lit Fest Review

Zine Workshop – 4/5

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The short creative workshop was a great start to the day full of creativity. Not a lot of literature is about getting you hands dirty, but this workshop really helped set the tone for the creative nature of the day and got everyone involved waking up! The crafty nature of this exercise was a great way to meet other people too, everyone sat around tables having to share scissors and glue definitely got the ball rolling, This was a great experience that I would recommend to anyone, artistic or not, it’s just great fun!

Poetry & Comics Workshop – 4/5

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The creative skills only carried on for the next section of the con. Exploring the works of visual poetry and what exactly a poem or a comic really is was a great discussion that almost certainly sparked debates between everyone attending. With even more cutting and sticking of some famous poems and even a Wikipedia article (and some daunting drawing) everyone got to share their work which made it that little bit more fun! Though there was two hours though there wasn’t much chance to go rogue and create your own thing, it was quite structured, but hopefully everyone is sitting at home creating their own poetry comics.

Video Games and Story Roundtable – 4/5

video game

This enthralling discussion about the relationship between game play and story managed to get everyone thinking in new ways about the nature of gaming and game media. The talk discussed issues such as how much the player is allowed to impress on the character, comparing very in depth characters to the more generic ones and which pulls you into the story more. Whilst some of the blogging team were debating the use of “video” in the term video games, the experts were teaching a whole new viewpoint on how to read the gaming universe!

This section was written by Jonathan Ford who kindly covered our blogging team lunch break!!

Keynote Event: Bryan and Mary Talbot – 5/5

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Bryan and Mary, both amazing artists, discussed their works in graphic novels as well as several riveting themes and events throughout history. Bryan discussed his work Grandville and the anthropomorphic traditions in history and art which was an excellent experience and made everyone question some beloved childhood characters! Whilst Mary discussed the historical basis for her upcoming The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia (due out May 2016) and some lucky audience members and bloggers managed to get copies (!!!) no spoilers will be shared here though! It’s definitely worth a read! The two speakers were available at the end of the session for a chat and to sign their graphic novels as well as Bryan gracing the pages with a quick sketch for the reader.

Fan-Fic: Open Mic 4/5

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The first annual YSJ Con concluded with the sharing of peoples own fan-fiction, Hosted by local poet Henry Raby. Many brave writers stepped forward to share work inspired by their favorite books, films, video games and even Dragons! The work shared was well written and showed the writers passion for the characters and stories they wrote about including, Red Vs Blue, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Les Miserables and Chinese Gods. Controversial yet lighthearted conversations arose about fictional worlds including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the setting of Pokemon. The session ended the day on a high. The only way it could have been better is if more people were willing to share their work. Hopefully next year more people will come forward.

Writing and the Natural World: Kathleen Jamie and William Atkins

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Rating: 4/5

Review:

Writing and The Natural World was the first event of the York Literature Festival held at York St John and also the first free event of the festival. The panel was hosted by Naomi Booth and consisted of prose writer William Atkins and award winning poet and non-fiction writer Kathleen Jamie. Both writers read extracts from their books which spoke about the Natural World. Atkins’ read from his first book The Moor (2014). The book takes the reader on a journey across the moors of England exploring both their history and their present beauty as well their relationship with man. Atkins is currently working on an account of desert journeys to be published in 2018. Kathleen Jamie read an extract from her book Sightlines: A Conversation with the Natural World (2012) in which she explores her native Scottish landscapes. The extract she shared was the story of four Killer Whales swimming amongst Seals in the most northern part of the Hebrides which she watched with great excitement and wrote very vividly. She also shared three other poems from her extensive collection of work. At the end there was a short Q&A in which both writers voiced their discomfort with being labelled as ‘Nature Writers’ as they believe it limits their writing topics, instead the prefer to be known as ‘Travel Writers’.

The most striking thing about the talk was the idea of “Don’t research: Encounter” a beautiful piece of advice for any aspiring writer hoping to write nature or anything else!

Next Week at the York Lit Fest!

Here’s a quick list Just to remind you all what’s going on next week in the lit fest! Be sure to book tickets before they all go – free events for YSJ students will be in bold!

Monday 14th March

  • We’re not in Kansas Anymore: Creating Engaging Worlds in Fiction Writing – King’s Manor, 10am to 12noon (£8)
  • Literary Walk – Museum Gardens – 10:30am to 12noon (£6/£5 pay on the day)
  • U A Fanthorpe: Berowne’s Book – Quaker Meeting House, 7.30pm to 9.15pm (£5)
  • Tanya Landman, Carnegie Medal Winner – St Peter’s School, 6.30pm to 7.30pm
  • Writing Comedy: The Art of Stand Up – Temple Hall YSJ, 7pm to 8.30pm

Tuesday 15th March

  • Stalin’s Englishman – The Lives of Guy Burgess – York Explore Library and Archive, 2pm to 3pm (£6)
  • Margaret Drabble in Conversation – St Peter’s School, 7pm to 8.30pm (£7)

Wednesday 16th March

  • Sci-Fi Workshop with Adam Roberts – Skell 037 YSJ, 2pm to 4pm
  • Why Sci-Fi Conquered the World (And What You Can Do to Stop It!) – Fountains Lecture Theatre YSJ, 7pm to 8pm
  • Professor Steve Jones: Why Genetics Matters – St Peter’s School, 7pm to 8.30pm
  • Dave and Miles’ Rumbustuous Book Quiz! – City Screen Basement, 8pm to 10pm (£3)

Thursday 17th March

  • Writing The Sonnet with Lizzi Linklater – King’s Manor, 10am to 12noon (£8)
  • The Frigate Anthology Launch Event – Quaker Meeting House, 4pm to 6pm (£5)
  • John O’Farrell: There’s Only Two David Beckhams A Football Fantasy – St Peter’s School, 7pm to 8.30pm (£7)
  • Student Showcase – Quad South Hall YSJ, 7pm to 9pm

Friday 18th March

  • Uncut Cords: Changing Families, Changing Carers – Quaker Meeting House, 2pm to 4pm (£3)
  • Poetry and Migration – Temple Hall YSJ, 7pm to 8.30pm
  • Vince Cable: After the Storm – St Peter’s School, 7pm to 8.30pm (£7)

Saturday 19th March

  • Pennine Poets 50th Birthday Party – Black Swan, 1pm to 3pm (£3)
  • York Literature Festival/York Mix Poetry Competition Results – Black Swan, 3.30pm to 5.30pm
  • No More Champagne: Politicians and Their Money – St Peter’s School, 7pm to 8.30pm (£7)
  • Austen Society Lecture: Jane Austen’s Emma in Context – Quaker Meeting House, 2pm to 3pm (£8)

Sunday 20th March

  • Family Day – York Explore Library and Archives, 11am to 4pm, (£2)

For more information look here. For tickets look here, and register to see individual events! Hope to see you there!

Shandy Hall Trip – 4 March

We started by looking at a full-stop
We started by looking at a full-stop

On Friday 4 March a group of third-year undergraduate Creative Writing students set out in freezing rain in search of Shandy Hall in Coxwold, where Laurence Sterne wrote the majority of his novel Tristram Shandy.

From the moment we arrived we knew we were in topsy-turvy Shandy Land, where nothing is quite right. We started by looking at a full-stop. The wonderful, digressive curator of Shandy Hall, Patrick Wildgust, began by showing us the full-stop that appears at the end of the first edition of Tristram Shandy, magnified and turned into a work of art by Scott Myles.

In the chapel we saw sacrificial glass and stones that speak.

A stone that speaks, in the chapel. 'STERNE was THE MAN, who with gigantic stride mow'd down luxuriant follies'
A stone that speaks, in the chapel. ‘STERNE was THE MAN, who with gigantic stride mow’d down luxuriant follies’

Back in the hall we measured out an hour in grains of sand. We took books that took books to pieces to pieces.

Taking books that take books to pieces to pieces at Shandy Hall
Taking books that take books to pieces to pieces at Shandy Hall

So of course we learned that a full-stop is not really what it appears. There is never a full stop or end to narrative. Look at it closely, magnify it a hundred, thousand, million-fold and a full-stop seeps into the paper with valleys and channels, black holes and highlights. It is not a stop at all, but just another messy mark on a page out of which we try to make meaning; in which we swear we can decipher the head of King George III in silhouette.

The full-stop launches us into new narratives, fresh meanings. So watch this space for our creative responses to the topsy-turvy world of Shandy Hall…

 

Next Week at the York Lit Fest!

To get you all pumped for the Lit Fest we’re going to tell you everything that’s going on before every week! Enough time for you to grab tickets and make arrangements to see some awesome literature being performed, spoken about, and maybe even write some! (Events that are free for YSJ students will be in bold)

Thursday 10th March

  • VIP Festival Launch: York Stories – At the York Theatre Royal three novelists will discuss setting their novels in York! Check out how York shapes modern literature for just £10 with food and wine included.

Friday 11th March

  • Writing and the Natural World – A reading and discussion on writing the natural world with contemporary authors Kathleen Jamie and William Atkins! Catch this event at York St John in Temple hall at 7pm!
  • Saw Owt Slam Presents: International Women’s Week Word Riot – Held at the City Screen Basement you can explore the wonders of feminist poetry with headliner Sophia Walker and even some local poets, before signing up for the open mic and sharing your own poems. Just £7 for this inspiring event
  • Right Here, Write Now – Fancy seeing a performance where you write the script? Come see the comedic hilarity of improvisation, simply give them suggestions to act out and enjoy. Hosted by Paul Birch at the Frigate theatre this event is only £5, a bargain night for comedy.
  • Michael Portillo – Michael Portillio, former politician now broadcaster, talks about his exciting career in the media, but mostly, there will be talk of trains! This event is held at the National Railway Museum, a great day out for any train lovers!

Saturday 12th March

  • York Novelists Workshop: From Ideas to Publication – This is a must attend for the creative students! Held at Bennett’s Cafe and Bistro see how to transform your ideas into print.
  • York St John Con – The event we’ve all been waiting for! Held in Temple Hall the YSJ Con will be filled with great experiences all day including; a Zine Workshop, Poetry and Comics Workshop, and even a Fan Fic Opem Mic. If you fancy sharing your embarrassing Harry Potter fan fiction, give it a go!
  • Hoglets – An adorable event for children (and their parents) aged 2 to 5, a mixture of songs games and crafts to introduce kids to the theatre, held at the Frigate Theatre.
  • How NOT to submit your manuscript – Exactly what it says on the box. Three of the UK’s leading literary agents will tell you how to get your novel published, as well as how not to! Complete with a Q&A this event is held at the Frigate Theatre, so all unpublished writers should check it out!
  • Wendy Cope – Come see one of Britain’s most popular poets discuss her work and her life. A great event for fans or anyone interested in poetry held at the Grand Opera House.
  • Bedtime Story – Another one for the kids! Mini Custard Children’s Theatre are recounting a wonderful story for children and their tired parents at the Frigate Theatre, be sure to bring a blanket and warm milk!
  • Arthur Smith plus Support: Mike Barfield – Arthur Smith, playwright (amongst many other things) recounts his life and work and general grumpiness that led him to where he is now. With support from Private Eye Cartoonist Mike Barfield it’s sure to be a fun night! Held at the Grand Opera house.

Sunday 13th March

  • Val McDermid in Conversation – One of the biggest names in Crime Fiction will be in conversation with Festival Director Miles Salter about her work, and crime fiction. A must see for all crime lovers (fiction that is!) as there will be a book signing afterwards! Held at St Peter’s School in Clifton.

For more information look here. For tickets look here, and register to see individual events! Hope to see you there!

Centre for Writing Kicks off the Year with YSJ Staff Reading

On Monday, 12 October, the Centre for Writing at YSJU started the new academic year with a roar and a swoon.

A full house for the launch

The evening saw the launch of two books: Lecturer Naomi Booth’s novella The Lost Art of Sinking, which imagines an uncanny world of intentional swooning from the perspective of the main character, Esther, and Lecturer and Acting Head of Programme JT Welsch’s poetry collection Hell Creek Anthology, which is based on Edgar Lee Masters Spoon River Anthology, but this time, with dinosaurs found in Hell Creek, Montana.

Naomi Booth signs books

Naomi Booth introduced the audience to the literary history of swooning, from the Virgin Mary at the foot of the Cross, to contemporary advertising, before reading from her novella’s first chapter. JT Welsch  showed the illustrations from his collection created by fashion illustrator Dom & Ink.

Naomi Booth
JT Welsch

Students and staff gnoshed on dinosaur desserts and the lecturers talked about their writing processes and their downright obsessions with their subjects.

JT Welsch signs copies of Hell Creek Anthology

Stay tuned for the next reading at YSJU Centre for Writing!

 

Creative and Critical Writing

Creative and Critical Writing

Professor Nicholas Royle reads from his remarkable novel Quilt.

Followed by a discussion with Senior Fiction Editor Vicky Blunden from the publisher Myriad Editions.

York St John University, Temple Hall, 27th March 2015:  3-5pm

FREE booking here; quilt https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/creative-and-critical-writing-professor-nicholas-royle-reading-event-tickets-14373885679

Nicholas Royle lives in Seaford and is Professor of English at the University of Sussex.

His academic writing is distinguished, in unusual ways, by playful language and linguistic invention. Since at least his early teens, when he wrote an abandoned work called The Foresight Saga, he has been fascinated by the strangeness of literature. This fascination has led to the publication of numerous books about literature, including the highly acclaimed Telepathy and Literature: Essays on the Reading Mind and The Uncanny. Despite their ‘academic’ appearances, such books contain unexpected interiors: Telepathy and Literature ends with a bizarre footnote comprising a short story called ‘Telephoning Home’; The Uncanny incorporates several pieces of short fiction. His latest academic work, Veering: A Theory of Literature, also contains numerous embedded fictions and indeed argues for a new conception of the relations between creative and critical writing.

‘An intense study of grief and mental disintegration, a lexical celebration and a psychological conundrum… Royle explores loss and alienation perceptively and inventively.’ – Guardian

‘A book of mythological power. Quilt is unforgettable, like all those great pieces of fiction that are fed by our immemorial root system, the human dream of metamorphosis.’ – Hélène Cixous

‘Royle’s baroque, athletic prose… confers a strong sense of the “strangeness” of English, “which, after all, belongs to no one” and should be continually reinvented.’ – Observer

Vicky Blunden is Senior Fiction Editor at Myriad Editions and winner of the IPG Young Independent Publisher of the Year Award in 2013. Myriad is an independent publisher based in Brighton, committed to nurturing new talent and publishing prize-winning fiction.

“Our graphic books explore tough subjects through narrative illustration. Our novels are original works of literary fiction, eclectic, bold and full of character.”

http://www.myriadeditions.com/about

Semester 1 Round-Up

We’ve had an amazing semester here at YSJ Writing. We have been treated to Claire Trevien’s flawless and haunting performance of The Shipwrecked House; we’ve met David Varela who introduced us to the many possibilities of writing, from interactive Sherlock Holmes mysteries to running from zombies to keep fit. MA graduate Nuala Casey read from her second novel, accompanied by Lucy Atkin who gave a generous account of how she’s made a success of her writing. In November, we were also treated to a brilliant masterclass with playwright Vivienne Franzmann and producer Imogen Ashby, who spoke to our scriptwriting and theatre students about their work with women in prisons. And most recently, our own Dr Alex Beaumont interviewed acclaimed novelist Maggie Gee.

Not only that, but students from the MA and 2nd and 3rd years of the BA in Creative Writing took part in an atmospheric writing retreat in Whitby. After travelling over the moor as the mist rolled in, we all piled into the YHA’s historic hostel, up on the clifftop next to the gorgeous ruins of the famous abbey. Over the next two days, students wrote in the shadow of the abbey, in the jumbled streets of the town, and out on the beach inspired by driftwood and thoughts of washed up vampires. Then they gave  a fabulous reading to showcase their spooky tales.

Next semester, we have even more to look forward to with the York Literature Festival which includes Quick Fictions; Evie Wyld, Jenn Ashworth and Emma Jane Unsworth; 24 hour Playwriting; Claire Pollard’s Ovid’s Heroines and much more…We can’t wait!