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Special Event Blogs: Launch of Nottingham Festival of Words

Nottingham Festival of Words - advert

Nottingham Festival of Words - advertLast night I had the pleasure of attending the Launch of the Nottingham Festival of Words at Antenna. Shortly before the event, a colleague here at Creative Towers suggested that attendance wasn’t enough, tweeting:

Creative Nottingham blogger @johnwithbeard will hopefully be liveblogging the Nottingham Festival of Words launch at @Antenna_UK later, too

So armed with the published list of participants on my Ipad (I hate getting names wrong) I joined the capacity crowd and found a seat on the side, half behind a pillar.  What follows is a selection of the tweets, re-arranged for artistic effect, with additional comments and links. Update: 24 September: The Festival has decided to make their standard hashtag the same as their twitter name, sans case: #nottwords @Nottwords

The #NottwordsFestival takes place next Feb 16/17, plus or minus a few days, mostly at NTU’s Newton Arkwright Building in town

That is what their website said, but several speakers referred to the fortnight 9 to 24 February.  Best to cancel all holiday during February.

The Festival theme is “Love, Lace and Revolution” which covers a lot of territory #NottwordsFestival

Last night “love” got the majority of the time.

The twitter feed is @Nottwordsmedia (only one “s” – took me several tries to get this right) #NottwordsFestival

And, their preferred hashtag is as shown.

NTU is one of the organising partners, others are Nottm Writers’ Studio, Writing East Midlands, City Council, Left Lion #NottwordsFestival

Translation: @Nottwordmedia is a partnership between @NWStudio @WritingEM @MyNottingham @LeftLion @TrentUni #NottwordsFestival

Many of the events will take place in the Newton Arkwright building at NTU in the centre of town, but references were made to a series of events at Newstead Abbey, exploiting the Lord Byron connection and the partnership of the City Council who own it.  My impression was that this festival is still evolving, still growing and that the final list of events will not be known for some time. But it will be diverse, and massive.  Just after 7.30 pm:

We seem to be starting #NottwordsFestival

Robin Vaughan-Williams, Poet and Nottingham Writers’ Studio Development Director did the introductions throughout the evening.

The Man Booker prize shortlisted Alison Moore is being introduced to a enthusiastic cheer #NottwordsFestival

The tweet underestimates the warmth and pride in Ms Moore’s presence here and on the Booker shortlist. She spoke for just a few minutes, revealing a more in depth knowledge of the programme than has been published.  She remained in the audience for the entire event.  Her novel, The Lighthouse, is a brilliant fiction, each chapter revealing layers of the history of the two main characters whose stories spiral toward a tragedy.  One of my books for 2012.

We then had samples of speakers who will be appearing in February. First up, with very artistic images of internet use and users was:

Paul Anderson, a tech writer, is asking if the web is moving to a global brain. A taster preview for his Feb talk

From the globe to the centre of the universe, Nottingham,

One of our local Mouthy Poets is speaking his poem City of the World #NottwordsFestival

Sorry not have heard the name of the poet, but liked his work #NottwordsFestival

I know now that this was Larnelle and he and his fellow poets will deserve their billing in February.  We had more poetry next, from the Nottingham Asian Arts Council:

Jai Verma is reading poem in Hindi about Olympics. Translation on screen but I am enjoying the poetic sound on its own #NottwordsFestival

An 11 year old is reading her poem about the Library #NottwordsFestival

The poet Santokh Dhaliwal is reading some of his work #NottwordsFestival first in Punjabi then English

The young girl was Anushka Shah, who read with self assurance and pride.  The last “taster” session before the interval came from storytellers:

Am enjoying extract from Something in the Shadows from Little Gem Storytelling (aka Gary Keane and Emma Carlton) #NottwordsFestival

During the interval

It feels a bit like the #Nottingham literarygenisa tonight currently trying to match twitter avatars to “real” faces #NottwordsFestival

It certainly felt like a room full of writers, in the widest sense, with possibly only me as a Reader.  So I went to meet someone in person I had read about on Creative Nottingham:

Sue Bulmer @sooziebee71 is on the other side of the room doing live poster art of what she hears #NottwordsFestival

Read about Sue’s Creative Space on our blog… #NottwordsFestival

Sue Bulmer's graphical summary of the eveningSue had only covered about a third of her large sheet at that point, but as you can see here, and  from her blog today, with the final result, she drew much faster than I tweeted in the second half.

At the start of the second half, an announcement was made by someone whose name is still un-known to me.

Dr Bell is putting up a prize fund, in memory of his wife, for children’s writing competition, as part of the Festival.

This very generous fund means nice prizes and a good competition for children, competing in age-banded groups.  Keep your eye on the Festival website for more details.  Next:

Playwright Stephen Lowe is talking about Nottingham’s dead literary inspirations #NottwordsFestival

[The original tweet mis-spelt “Stephen”, I hope no one tells him.]  He eloquently spoke about his experience reading D H Lawrence’s un-performed plays, and subsequently seeing them on stage.  And made a case for Nottingham as the provincial city with a literary centre of gravity unlike any other.

Tonight’s event is part of @WEYA2012 and Mahmoud Mansi is reading a short story set in recent Egyptian revolution

Mahmoud tried to make the session interactive by reading sections of his story and asking the audience if they recognised the character.   The link to the next performer was serendipitously his birthplace:

Poet Greg Woods, born in Egypt, day job Prof at NTU, is reading his poetry with vigour #NottwordsFestival

Greg Woods was profiled earlier this summer on Left Lion.  Our last wordsmith of the evening gave us a multi-media “reading” with vivid abstract images mixed with words and music (full name Reuben da Cunha Rocha):

A Brazilian poet, Reuban Rocha, part of @WEYA2012, is performing in Portuguese against visual backdrop of vivid images #NottwordsFestival

And the music continued:

The Phil Langran Band is finishing the evening for us #NottwordsFestival

After two hours:

That’s enough Love, Lace, Revolution and WORDS from me tonight. Clear your diary for Feb 2013, it is going to be fun #NottwordsFestival


Extract from Sue Bulmer's graphical summary of the evening

Sue sums it up

John is one of our team of bloggers. He can be reached on john AT and followed on Twitter @johnwithbeard