Friday, 18 January 2019

Visual Verse - On earth, looking up


 My short fiction piece "On earth, looking up" has been published at Visual Verse! This month's prompt was the above image by Matt Boyce.

 I hope you enjoy my story about space, fish, and whether it is ever really too late to try something new.

 Liz x

News - November and December 2018


Edinburgh Christmas Market

 So much has happened in the last couple of months - I started my new job and moved into my flat, which has been really exciting. Living in Manchester has allowed me to get to creative events here much more easily, and my life has been very full and fun.

 I was so happy to be chosen by HOME to be a Digital Reporter, taking part in a year-long series of workshops and opportunities. So far we have studied blogging, photography and film, and I undertook my first assignment: to review John Walter's exhibition CAPSID for HOME's website.

 I have also had some poetry published: perhaps ironically, the month I moved back to Manchester, my poem "Leaving Manchester" appeared in Visual Verse! Despite the title, however, the poem describes how I always do end up coming back. It was also a joy to see my poem "Oyster" in beautiful print journal Confingo.

 I was honoured to have two poems, "A cave" and "Finding the fish", in the last-ever issue of Far Off Places, and was invited to attend the launch in Edinburgh. I enjoyed a very special and memorable trip, exploring, performing my work and getting to know some really nice people.

 I also travelled to York, to read at the Northern Poetry Showcase and Roadshow as a winner of the Northern Writers' Awards. Although I only got to spend one evening in the city, it was great to get a taster, and I would really like to return in the future. 

 Another performance highlight was the launch of Young Identity's anthology No Disclaimers, in which I have two poems. The event was incredibly lovely, with a chance to share my work, hear my amazingly talented fellow YI members read their poems, and then chill, chat and celebrate.

 I performed at two Mancunian spoken-word nights for the first time, sharing my poems at Flim Nite (on the theme of one of my favourite films, Pan's Labyrinth) and Speak. They were very different experiences, and I learnt a lot from both. 

 Around Christmas I received the news that I had been long-listed in the Writers' HQ From LGBTQ+ With Love flash fiction competition. It kind of caught me off-guard, and was just a really nice thing to happen.

 I am still curating Word Life, and enjoying the huge range of poems and stories I am sent. November's issue had the theme of "Gifts", and December's was a Young Identity showcase, which made it extra-special for me to edit.

 I also had the chance to interview spoken-word stars Keisha Thompson, Shirley May and Frankie Blaus, and review Keisha's show Man on the Moon, for Now Then Manchester. I am still wrapping my head around Man on the Moon - Keisha moved and inspired me so much.

 2018 was certainly the year I embraced my own passion for spoken-word poetry and found the courage to perform far more often - I shared my work at least seventeen times over the year, at launches, festivals, fundraisers and spoken-word nights.

 Considering I performed maybe twice in 2017, this feels like a huge step forward for me. I am proud of myself, and thankful to those who have supported me - being part of Young Identity and The Writing Squad has certainly contributed towards my confidence.

 Overall, I had a very busy end to the year - but a productive, enjoyable and empowering one. I resolved to write more poetry in the New Year, and so far have managed a little every day. Here's to a creative and hopeful 2019.

 Thank you so much for following my writing adventures.

 Liz x

Monday, 31 December 2018

Young Identity - 2018 highlights


Keisha Thompson and Reece Williams presenting One Mic Stand

 I was a member of Mancunian spoken-word collective Young Identity for the final few months of 2017, but it was in 2018 that I really got stuck in and attended regularly (before that it had been difficult due to me living in a catered university residence, with meal times clashing with workshops). 

 I now take part in the group every week that I can, and it has become like a family to me. Everybody has been incredibly supportive and has made me feel comfortable sharing my writing, even when I have only just written it and it still feels very raw. 

 Having a space to practise performing has been invaluable to me in a year when I have hugely increased the amount of spoken-word work that I do. It is also humbling hearing the wonderful work of the other writers - we are all so different, and I get to learn about the world in so many ways, through so many voices.

 Special highlights have included attending One Mic Stand, Young Identity's own poetry slam, and being awed by the talent of the performance teams, and reading at the launch of our anthology No Disclaimers - such a lovely night of friendship and creativity.

 I enjoyed curating a special Young Identity edition of Word Life, and putting together a feature on the group, interviewing CEO Shirley May, and poet and editor Frankie Blaus.

 I was also delighted to review Keisha Thompson's show Man on the Moon, and interview her - Keisha was a core member of Young Identity, and her talent for spoken word, music and storytelling really inspires me.

 Thank you to Shirley, who has been so encouraging to me, and to everyone at the group, with shout-outs to Toreh O'Garro, Nicole May, Nasima Begum and Roma Havers for making me feel so welcome.

 I'm very much looking forward to seeing what is next for Young Identity in 2019.

 Liz x

The Writing Squad - 2018 highlights



 This year I officially graduated from The Writing Squad, after two years of workshops and events. However, the great thing about the Squad is that even as a graduate you stay a part of the community and can be very much involved.

 This year, one Squad moment really stands out, and is one of my proudest achievements as a writer. I was commissioned by Manchester Literature Festival to write an original piece about what reading means to me, to encourage young people - and older ones - to read for enjoyment.

 I was incredibly proud to share "On stories and snow" at the Take Ten event at Manchester Central Library, and it felt like a major milestone for me as a spoken-word performer.

 I also attended two Writing Squad workshops, which both happened to be in Leeds. The first was with Hannah Silva, who taught as about performance techniques and technologies, such as using a looping pedal. 

 She also performed for us, and her work blew my mind in how different and brave it is, and how precise her timings have to be for the pieces to work. I was really inspired to try new things and grow as a performer.

 The second workshop was led by Stevie Ronnie, who shared his passion for making books and pamphlets. We learnt how to make precise cuts and folds in paper, and basic book-binding stitches. This workshop included a number of Squad members I hadn't met before, so I made some new friends.

 It was interesting to be so hands-on in a publishing process, making these precious, limited-edition items, and it made me much more aware of the possibilities in putting my work out there. I would definitely consider creating a small run of handmade zines or pamphlets.

 I discussed with Stevie how I wanted to work on the structure and presentation of my poetry on the page, and he was really helpful. Hopefully we can talk more about this in the future.

 I also met with Steve Dearden, the Squad Director, to generally discuss my writing and what will come next. I'm really looking forward to 2019 and moving forward as a creative.

 Thanks for reading, and thank you to everyone who has followed my writing career so far.

 Liz x

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Northern Poetry Showcase and Roadshow


 I had an enjoyable night performing at the Northern Poetry Showcase and Roadshow at York St John University. I was invited as one of the five 2017-18 New North Poets, and read three of my poems to an attentive audience. 

 It has been a whirlwind year since I won my Northern Writers' Award. I have been mentored by Clare Pollard, attended two writing retreats , been published in GASP, and felt my poems strengthen. The Showcase was a cosy and fun way to celebrate the journey we New North Poets have been on.

 Thank you to the Poetry School, New Writing North, and everyone else who has supported my writing.

 Liz x

HOME Digital Reporters and CAPSID


From CAPSID by John Walter

 I am very happy to have been chosen as a Digital Reporter this year by HOME, Manchester, a really cool venue where I have previously been involved in projects such as Young Identity, Young Curators and Creative Stars.

 Being a Digital Reporter means having monthly masterclasses, and so far we have studied blogging and photography. In the New Year we will be looking at film. I am enjoying the project so far, and looking forward to what is to come.

 My first assignment as a Digital Reporter was to review John Walter's CAPSID for HOME's website. I hope you enjoy my thoughts on this fascinating and different art exhibition.

 Liz x

Now Then - Young Identity


 Issue 61 of Now Then Manchester includes a feature I put together on Young Identity. I was very happy to be able to interview the spoken-word collective's co-founder and CEO Shirley May, and Frankie Blaus, a member of the group and one of the Editors of new anthology No Disclaimers.

 The pair discuss what makes Young Identity so special, and the journey to creating No Disclaimers. There is also a beautiful poem by Joel Cordingley, "Nervous Disposition", as a taster of the anthology.

 I hope you enjoy learning more about Young Identity - the group has been so supportive and encouraging to me as a writer and has really helped me grow.

 Liz x

Now Then - Word Life 61


 December's issue of Now Then Manchester's Word Life page is a special showcase of writing by Mancunian spoken-word collective Young Identity. As a proud member of the group, I really enjoyed curating this month's issue.

 I hope you enjoy these poems by Toreh O'Garro, Shirley May, Ayomide Abolaji, Will Spence, Rabia Tanweer, Yorusalem Okbamichael and Tallulah Howarth.

 There is also the usual information about literary events in and around Manchester.

 I hope you enjoy Word Life 61!

 Liz x

No Disclaimers - Anthology and launch


 One of the loveliest evenings I have had recently was the launch of No Disclaimers, the new Young Identity anthology, at HOME, Manchester. Being part of this spoken-word group is wonderful - it really is like a family, and has given me such confidence in writing and performing.

 I have two poems, both with long titles - "On cows and skies" and "On trees, invertebrates and meteorological phenomena" - in No Disclaimers. I enjoyed reading the latter at the launch. It was also very special hearing other poems performed in their authors' unique voices, as well as generally catching up with everyone and celebrating our achievements as a group. 

 I had my copy of the anthology signed by the poets who were there, and received some kind and moving messages. I also signed other people's - it was a signing-fest! It really was a night to remember. 

 Here's to more Young Identity fun and inspiration in the New Year.

 Liz x

From LGBTQ+ With Love flash fiction competition


 It was so nice to discover that my flash fiction has been long-listed for the Writers' HQ From LGBTQ+ With Love competition. 

 While judging is in process I can't tell you which story is mine, but I am very happy to be chosen. Watch this space to find out what happens next!

 Liz x

Far Off Places - Launch night in Edinburgh


Enjoying the views from the big wheel!

I have two poems in the latest - and, sadly, final - issue of Far Off Places, a beautiful journal that I have followed for years. They were also the first magazine to publish one of my translations, and have been so friendly and supportive.

 So, when I was invited to read at their launch night at Lighthouse Bookshop in Edinburgh, I decided to accept - it was a long way from Manchester, but I thought it would make a nice little trip. It was indeed: I read some poems to a really nice and warm audience, then spent hours sitting and chatting with the Far Off Places team and other lovely writers and creatives.

 I also enjoyed exploring Edinburgh: visiting the Christmas market, taking in the views from the big wheel, eating mac 'n' cheese at a vegetarian restaurant, and having a hot chocolate at Black Medicine Coffee, in the building where some of Harry Potter was written.

Mac 'n' cheese!

 The last stop on my tour was the Scottish Poetry Library, where I saw two of the famous book sculptures - they were so intricate and magical - and was able to relax for a bit before catching my train back. 

 I am very grateful to the Far Off Places team and everyone else I met for being so welcoming and for the suggestions of places to visit. I would love to return to Edinburgh some day, and hope to travel to more far off places (get it) to share my writing and meet new people.

 Liz x

Friday, 16 November 2018



 Last night I visited Speak!, one of the last of the big Mancunian spoken word nights I hadn't yet been to. It was a different atmosphere to what I had experienced at other nights, with more people, louder music, and generally, for me, a more intense vibe.

 However new it felt, I threw myself into my set, performing my poems. The crowd were into it, with laughter in the right places, and I got some good feedback afterwards. The other acts were diverse and interesting, and I was glad I decided to give Speak! a go.

 Liz x

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Now Then - Keisha Thompson


 It was a joy to interview the dynamic writer and spoken-word performer Keisha Thompson for Now Then Manchester, and to attend and review her solo show Man on the Moon

 I hope you enjoy my feature on Keisha.

 Liz x

Far Off Places - A cave, and Finding the fish


 You may remember that I had a translation published in Far Off Places in 2016. It is a gorgeous journal, available in print and digital formats.

 I was recently happy to discover that I would again be part of it, with my poems, "A cave" and "Finding the fish" published in the upcoming issue. 

 There is also a bittersweet feeling, as this will be the final issue of Far Off Places. I am proud and moved to be part of it. You can purchase the digital edition of Volume V, Issue II online.

 I hope you enjoy my poetry.

 Liz x

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Manchester Literature Festival - On stories and snow


 Just letting you know that you can now read my piece "On stories and snow", commissioned for Manchester Literature Festival, online at The National Literacy Trust. It was a joy to write this piece, and to perform it at the Take Ten event at Manchester Central Library.

 I hope you enjoy discovering how reading has shaped my life.

 Liz x

Flim Nite - Pan's Labyrinth


 I had been hoping to get involved with Flim Nite, a cinema-inspired performance night, since I first learnt about it. My fellow New North Poet Jasmine Chatfield, is one of the organisers, and it sounded intriguing.

 When I heard that they would be taking on Pan's Labyrinth, I just had to be there - I studied this film for my Spanish A-Level, and it is one of my all-time favourites. It was so lovely to be welcomed there to read my poetry. I wrote two poems, a sonnet and a ghazal, especially for the occasion.

 The large audience at the Three Minute Theatre were warm and listened intently, and it was a great experience. It was fascinating to see and hear how the other performers interpreted the film.

 I hope to return to Flim Nite in the future, and look forward to seeing what films they have lined up for us to revisit and respond to.

 Liz x

Now Then - Word Life 60


 November's issue of Now Then Manchester - our sixtieth! - is here, and for Word Life I set the theme of "Gifts". I received a huge number of submissions, probably more than for any previous issue.

 The final selection includes writing by J V Birch, Margaret King, Fee Thomas, Gerry Sikazwe, Lynn White, John Grey, Anna Maria Dall'Olio, Andrew Nowell, Sarah Hulme, Kristi Rose, Joan McNerney and Laura Potts. The "Gifts" prompt is interpreted in many different and fascinating ways.

 We also have the usual listings for literary events in and around Manchester.

 I hope you enjoy Issue 60!

 Liz x

Confingo - Oyster


 I am very happy that my poem "Oyster" has been published in Confingo 10, the autumn/winter 2018 issue. It is wonderful to see my work in this elegant Mancunian print journal.

 I hope you enjoy my poem.

 Liz x

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Visual Verse - Leaving Manchester


 Visual Verse have been celebrating their fifth birthday with a competition, and I was delighted to be one of the writers chosen to be published first in November's issue. 

 My poem "Leaving Manchester" was a response to the above image by Hannah Coulson, but also inspired by my many trips in and out of the city that has become my home over the last six years. Leaving always feels bittersweet, but I know I will never stay away for too long.

 I hope you enjoy my writing. Feel free to also look at my Visual Verse archive to see all the pieces I have had published on the site since 2015.

 Liz x

Monday, 5 November 2018

News - September and October 2018


 Since my last news post, autumn has arrived in the north of England, and the weather has transformed. It is very cold, but some lovely things have brought me moments of warmth. So much has happened in my writing and creative projects, and I am looking forward to sharing it with you.

 Firstly, in terms of performance and spoken word, I was commissioned to create a special piece of writing for Manchester Literature Festival's Take Ten event, at Manchester Central Library. This was an incredible opportunity, and I really enjoyed writing and performing "On stories and snow".

 I also performed a set at (In)sane, a really nice, chilled event to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing, and I enjoyed reading at the ever-lovely feminist poetry night Stirred.

 In terms of the written word, GASP, the anthology of the New North Poets, was released. Four of my poems featured: "Blood ghazal", "León", "Pilot" and "Missing Leo", and our mentor, Clare Pollard, wrote a lovely introduction, praising the "conjuring of place" in my work.

 The year of mentoring following my Northern Writers' Awards win was so important to me as a writer, and this anthology was a way of celebrating our progress as New North Poets. I am very proud of it.

 I have also had poems published by other brilliant publications: "Things that can fly" appeared in Culture Matters, "Things that make me happy" in Scrittura Magazine, "Dogteeth" in Severine, "Dragon" in The Poetry Village and "An L-shaped room" in Here Comes Everyone.

 My prose also had a chance to shine, with my short story "Australia" published in The Lampeter Review, and my flash fiction piece "The time of harps" in Visual Verse.

 I enjoyed another year as a Digital Reporter for Manchester Literature Festival, reviewing two very powerful events. Firstly, I listened to Michael Morpurgo's words on the environment and conservation at Manchester Cathedral.

 I then visited the Whitworth Art Gallery to hear Rommi Smith and Dave Evans responding to the exhibition "Bodies of Colour" through the media of spoken word and piano, respectively. Issues tackled included sexism, homophobia and racism, but there was also a strong sense of hope.

 As usual, I curated the Word Life section of Now Then Manchester, and really enjoyed putting together two very different issues - September's had the more serious theme of "Messages", while October's was more fun, with poems surrounding "Animals".

 That being said, a quite solemn poem of mine, "Requiem", about whales, featured in October's issue. I hope you enjoy both months' sets of writing.

 I took part in a fun Writing Squad workshop with Stevie Ronnie on making books and presenting written work in new ways, and have enjoyed my continued participation in spoken word group Young Identity.

 I have also been chosen as a Digital Reporter at HOME, Manchester, which is very exciting! I look forward to a year of masterclasses and opportunities.

 Thanks for following my creative journey, and watch this space to see where it goes next.

 Liz x