Renaissance One: Creative Saloooon

Top right Jean 'Binta' Breeze, bottom left Melanie Abrahams, bottom right, James Walker (me)

Top right Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, bottom left Melanie Abrahams, bottom right, Ahem.

Melanie Abrahams is the creative director of Renaissance One, which offers mentoring and advice to emerging writers about all facets of the creative industries from launching and touring a performance to how to earn an income. One way she promotes the local literary scene is through a Creative Salon, whereby a selection of writers are invited to share their experiences and projects with other professionals.  This is then followed up by a Q&A.

The event was hosted on 2 November at Embrace Arts, University of Leicester. It was my first public talk about Dawn of the Unread outside of Nottingham and I shared the stage with Aly Stoneman, Bubba Bennett and Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, with guest readings from Panya Banjoko and Joe Coghlan.

Although DOTU has a very specific focus on the Nottingham literary scene I was keen to get over to Leicester because they have such an incredibly supportive literary scene, something raised by Bubba Bennett when he produced handouts for the audience on every spoken word event in the city as well as statistics regarding the demographics of attendees. Any event I’ve ever been to at Leicester has always been very well attended. I’m not entirely sure why this is but it’s certainly something that Nottingham could learn from.

In the talk I outlined the methodology to DOTU and explained how you identify a problem and then put together a project. This was a diluted version of the manifesto I’ve recently written. A manifesto sounds very serious and so it should be. There’s no point embarking on a project unless you know where you are heading and why.

One emphasis of the talk was the importance of diversifying content as a means of building audiences and new partnerships. I have some very ambitious targets for how many people I want to engage and this talk is one of the many ways in which these ambitions become a reality. Sure enough, I met many interesting people and below is a little teaser of what we talked about and how conversations can shape the direction of a project.

Lydia Towsey is involved with the running of Everybody’s Reading in Leicester in October 2014 and so there are obvious links there. However, I also discovered she’s a complete Zombie nut who is putting together a show about reading and zombies. We’re planning a cuppa for the end of the month so watch this space.

Carol Leeming has a blog whose title is inspired by a Sillitoe short story (the same story that inspired Nicola Monaghan’s blog). Her work and promotion of black female writers also ties in with our themes around race.

Panya Banjoko is someone who I’ve had in mind for a long time to coordinate a response to the race issues raised in the project with Mouthy Poets. But I discovered she’s also recording testimonies from Black servicemen from WWII. There are many parallels about ‘forgotten histories’ that we could link to.

Michael ‘Sureshot’ Brome is a poet who works in a prison and was interested in how DOTU could be used to address literacy in prisons, an area I hadn’t considered before. He mentioned an inmate who had a quote tattooed on his arm but didn’t know who it was by. His comments related to my discussion of Agnes Richter’s mental jacket and how fashion and literature can work well together and raises the possibility of exploring the realtionship between body art, fashion and literature.

The digested read: You can’t go home again.

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One thought on “Renaissance One: Creative Saloooon

  1. Hi James. Sorry I missed this – I was away in Devon. Leicester has indeed got a lively and supportive literary scene and I feel so lucky to be part of it. Thanks for the mention for The Word Factory. Hope you can make it along to an event some time.

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