If you’ve just stumbled across this blogging website for Dawn of the Unread, here’s the digested read: When the dead go unread, there’s gonna be trouble. Writers are returning from the grave in search of the one thing that can keep their memory alive, ‘boooks’. This is a campaign to raise awareness of local literary history and hopefully find a way to engage a ‘Youtube generation’ of readers who supposedly are no longer reading any more. We are also exploring the relationship between digital and print media and believe that these mediums can complement each other.
The literary figures who have graced our pages so far are: William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army and author of In Darkest England; Slavomir Rawicz, author of The Long Walk and a Polish prisoner of war who escaped a Siberian gulag in 1941; Charlie Peace, brought to life in a play by Michael Eaton at the Nottingham Playhouse and glorified in Penny Dreadfuls and the Police Illustrated News as Victorian Britain’s most notorious thief; the Gotham Fool, a staple of oral storytelling that dates back to the reign of King John and the inspiration for the fictional home of Batman; Byron Clough, a monstrous hybrid that brings together Brian Clough and Lord Byron; Alma Reville, aka Mrs Hitchock; and our current chapter, D.H Lawrence, the bearded mard arse who made it possible for us to all swear more freely. There’s plenty more to come too.
However, we soon realised that all of our figures were white and mainly male. To address this we have currently put a call-out for a BME writer to address why this is the case and to tell the story of those forgotten voices that never made it into libraries. The shortlist will be announced at our appearance at the Nottingham Festival of Words on October 19 when we will be presenting our own take on MasterBrainz, with Lydia Towsey our updated Magnus Magnusson.
Continuing this theme we have commissioned David ‘Stickman’ Higgins to address issues of BME history and heritage at WORD, Leicester as part of the National Poetry Day celebrations. Stickman said: “My mother came from Barbados and my father was of Irish descent. I have embraced my dual ancestry as an instinctive and intuitive vehicle for artistic expression. I have invested many years researching, developing and delivering the hidden voices of my African Caribbean/British identity.”
This event is in Leicester as we’ve been working in partnership with Everybody’s Reading, NHS, Bright Sparks and various other organisations to debate their literary history and see if our project can inspire other cities to explore their literary history. This is ace, but time to be a bit smug. I challenge anyone to prove there is a city with as rich a literary heritage as Nottingham…
Dawn of the Unread is exploring the role of libraries and bookshops in creating awareness of the many stories that have been cut from the rough sandstone heart of Nottinghamshire. So far we have used a wide variety of styles in telling our stories that range from the iambic tetrameter to the gallows ballad. And we are putting our money where our mouth is. We’ve just paid for 6,000 bookmarks in support of three organisations we believe are integral in our literary battle: Five Leaves Bookshop, Page45 and the Nottingham City of Literature bid. If you want one, get to their shop on Saturday.
Finally, we’ve just sent out our school packs to every school in Nottinghamshire to try to engage ‘reluctant readers’ (13+) in our reading project. I will make the time to visit every single school and support them in whatever way we can. We’re hoping that showing small snippets into the lives of incredible people will inspire them to read and learn more. And if it doesn’t work, who cares. At least we tried.
For the diary
WORD! ‘DEAD LOCAL’ NATIONAL POETRY DAY – EXTRAVAGANZA! Thursday, October 2 – Leicester Adult Education College, Wellington Street, Leicester. 7pm
Nottingham Comic Convention, Saturday 4 October 2014, Nottingham Conference Centre, Goldsmith Street, Nottingham NG1 4BU
Game City – We’re doing a talk, just don’t know when or where yet. So keep tabs on their website.
Masterbwainz, Festival of Words, 19 October 2014, Old Market Square Nottingham 3-4 (Spoken word tent 2)