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