On 8 February 2014 Dawn of the Unread embarked on a simple mission: To get people reading, generate an interest in local history, show a bit of support for libraries and bookshops and to do our bit to try and raise literacy levels. 16 months on and our graphic novel serial is finished, although there’s still a bit of work to be done. There’s a physical book in the pipeline, a public performance and book launch, and ideas for a follow on project tentatively called Untold Stories. This blog will live on too, though it will become fortnightly and then monthly, slowing down in its old age.
We didn’t realise it at the time but Dawn of the Unread has played a vital role in Nottingham’s UNESCO City of Literature bid, ticking too many boxes to list here. The bid was officially endorsed by the UK National Commission for UNESCO in early July and has now been officially submitted. We’ll find out the results on 11 December 2015. Councillor Jackie Morris, Nottingham’s Lord Mayor, wrote a letter of support to accompany the bid, which starts:
“Nottingham is a City of Literature in the widest sense, encompassing forms from playwriting to poetry slams, songwriting and storytelling to comic books and creating scenarios for video games. The last 25 years have seen an explosion of great novels, poetry, plays, spoken word and screenplays from our writers. We see literature, culture and creativity as the driving force behind the transformation of our city in the next twenty years to become a thriving international city. We want to use literature and associated literary activities to inspire the people who live in the city, as well as those who work here and visit. Partners from the public and private sectors, further and higher education, and the cultural sector in the city have come together to develop the vision, strategy and delivery plan for this bid. Our vision for Nottingham as a City of Literature is: One City, Many Voices.”
I’m one of the directors of the City of Literature team which is a partnership between various local organisations such as: Writing East Midlands, Nottingham Writers’ Studio, our two universities, City Council, the Playhouse and the Creative Quarter. Therefore, I’ve decided to ‘donate’ the educational side of Dawn of the Unread to the City of Lit team. This is important as it ensures the legacy of the project while helping a new organisation achieve two of its core aims: Raising literacy levels in Nottingham and creating paid work for writers.
Another way in which the legacy of Dawn of the Unread lives on is through our very silent protest, a reading flashmob on 12 July 2014. One year on and the City of Literature team have organised a follow up event at 6.30pm on Friday 17 July in Old Market Square. This is to celebrate the launch of These Seven: a collection of seven short stories from contemporary Nottingham writers, including a rare Alan Sillitoe story.
If you want to get involved then please bring a book by one of the contributors (three of whom feature in our comic serial): Brick (John Stuart Clark), Shreya Sen Handley, Paula Rawsthorne, Alison Moore, Alan Sillitoe, Megan Taylor or John Harvey. Better still, grab a copy of These Seven from Five Leaves bookshop, which, incidentally, is the only independent bookshop to have opened this century.
Dawn of the Unread is a graphic novel celebrating Nottingham’s literary history. It was created to support libraries and bookshops. It began life online and won the Teaching Excellence Award at the Guardian Education Awards in 2015 and has since been published by Spokesman Books (2017). All profits go towards UNESCO Nottingham City of Literature.