Sunday, 17 March 2019

News - January and February 2019


 Since my last news update, Spring has been slowly making its way to Manchester. I am enjoying my job and flat, and exploring parts of the city I didn't really know as a student. I have been very busy, but have made time for hobbies such as baking and singing and, of course, my creative writing.

 I have been attending Young Identity regularly, and learning so much. It really is like a family, and one of the highlights of my week. Through Young Identity I took part in my first poetry slam, One Mic Stand, which was an important experience for me, and a quietly empowering one.

 I shared my poem "Campfire", about health and body image. Through it I discuss some painful moments, but the tone is of comfort and hope.

 I also represented Young Identity at Big Words, a cosy and fun spoken-word night in Chorlton. I read four poems, which all mentioned blood - it wasn't intentional but ended up being quite a nice link! You can read one of them, my "Blood ghazal", online in the Poetry School's anthology GASP.

 I took the train to Liverpool to attend the launch event for both Coast to Coast to Coast, and pamphlets by Jane Lovell and Rebecca Gethin - the latter of whom I have had the pleasure of publishing in Foxglove Journal.

 I heard some beautiful and unusual poetry, and watched the sun set over the docks. It was a memorable evening.

 I enjoyed a writing workshop by Malika Booker here in Manchester, with The Writing Squad. I learnt some new writing exercises and took fellow participant and poet Laura Potts on a magical mystery tour of Manchester in search of inspiration.

 We visited Emmeline Pankhurst and ended up in Chinatown. 

 We also wrote a poem about lemons. It was a strange and lovely day.

 I have been continuing my year as a Digital Reporter at HOME, learning new skills and polishing old ones. So far in 2019, we have had masterclasses in filming and editing video, and working with audio. I am really enjoying getting to know the group and creating little projects I can be proud of.

 Issue 62 of Now Then Manchester's Word Life had the theme of "Magic" and was a really nice one to curate - I hope you enjoy it. We have also had some powerful poetry and fiction in Foxglove Journal.

 I received an exciting piece of news: I have been announced as a winner of Hedgehog Poetry Press' Tree Poets Competition and will be published in the pamphlet Tree Poets: Flames of Ice later this year. There will hopefully be a launch event - watch this space! 

 I look forward to sharing this set of poems, which are inspired by my time living in France and explore nature, body and mind, and identity.

 Finally, my short story, "On earth, looking up" has been published by Visual Verse and is free to read online - I hope you enjoy this tale of fish, stargazing and wondering whether it is ever too late to take a chance.

 Thanks for taking the time to read my news and share my writing journey. You can also keep up with me on Twitter and Instagram.

 Have a lovely couple of months!

 Liz x

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Young Identity at Big Words, Chorlton


 I was invited as a member of Young Identity to perform at spoken word night Big Words at Vinyl Fiction in Chorlton. 

 I hadn't been to Chorlton in five years, and had a mini-adventure hopping on a tram and heading off into the sunset. It was a relief to see the familiar shape of the big Morrisons, as well as some blossomy trees and Brewski, where I stopped to enjoy a halloumi burger and sticky toffee pudding.

 I arrived at Vinyl Fiction and settled in for a really nice night. I heard some amazing work, both from my Young Identity friends, and from writers who were new to me, and who I am happy to have discovered. 

 I shared my "Blood ghazal" from the anthology GASP, as well as some of my newer poems, to a great reception - the audience was attentive and warm, and having my friends there, smiling at me and finger-clicking at their favourite lines, was extra-lovely.

 With enthusiastic hosts, a game of Vinyl Fictionary (nothing at all like Pictionary...) in which I correctly guessed an answer (Van Morrison), and little touches such as our names being written up nicely on a board behind us, it was fun, and cosy, and I will definitely be attending Big Words again.

 Thanks for reading,

 Liz x

One Mic Stand - February 2019


Photo by Alex Morgan

 Having been a regular member of Young Identity for around six months now (having previously attended on and off as university life allowed), I was overjoyed to be able to take part in my first One Mic Stand, the collective's showcase poetry slam at Band on the Wall.

 I was one of ten poets competing for a prize of £50, although winning was far from my mind as I performed - just standing on the stage and sharing my poem, "Campfire", which is quite personal and very close to my heart, was an empowering and memorable experience.

 I scored 51/60 overall, including a 10/10 from one judge for my content, which was wonderful. The winner was Saf, whose performance was intense and powerful. I loved hearing all of my friends from Young Identity sharing their work, and overall it was an amazing night.

 Thank you to Young Identity and Shirley May for making this happen, to Nicole May and Reece Williams for hosting, and to the lovely, supportive audience.

 Liz x

Now Then - Word Life 62


 Issue 62 of Now Then Manchester's Word Life was fun to curate as it  was all about "Magic". I hope you enjoy this selection of creative writing, whose authors interpreted the theme in many ways, from fantastical to humorous to poignant. 

 We have work from Kersten Christianson, Joan McNerney, Linda Imbler, Joyce Graham, Ann Christine Tabaka, Sarah Hulme, Roy Moller, Kayleigh Jayshree Hicks and Ken Allan Dronsfield. There are also the usual listings for literary events in and around Manchester.

 I hope you enjoy Word Life 62.

 Liz x

Hedgehog Poetry Press - The Tree Poets Competition


 I am delighted to have been chosen as a winner of Hedgehog Poetry Press' Tree Poets Competition!I will be one of three poets to have their work showcased in the pamphlet Tree Poets: Flames of Ice

 I am very happy that I will be sharing this space with the lovely Kate Garrett, who I met at a Stirred night and whose writing I deeply admire. The third poet, Kay Channon, I have chatted to on Twitter, and I am really looking forward to getting to know her work.

 My set of poems is from my time living in the south of France, and includes imagery connected to travel, nature, the body and mind, and memory. 

 The Tree Poets: Flames of Ice is due out in spring/summer 2019, and there will be a launch at which I hope to perform - watch this space!

 Liz x

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