Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Some Things

Yesterday was a step back in time, as along with JT Welsch I had an opportunity to talk to creative writing students at the University of Manchester, courtesy of John McAuliffe and Vona Groarke. A step back in time, as I was one of the earliest students on the MA in Novel Writing (as it was then) - third or fourth year - with Richard Francis and Michael Schmidt at tutors. The University continued with a creative writing course after they'd gone (respectively to Bath Spa and MMU) but it was a good few years before it reinvented its creative writing provision as the Centre for New Writing. All to the good, and it was nice to be asked back, as with all the glitz of "the Martin Amis years" there sometimes seems a bit of amnesia about the courses that preceded it. We read a couple of poems and talked a bit about our different journeys to being published by Salt.

On Sunday I'd popped to Vintage Village in Stockport, and was pleased to find, amongst the bric a brac and classic clothing, a nice little book stall. I picked up quite a few literary tomes, including a nice catalogue for a sixties exhibition of literary memorabilia. Made me think that we should have a museum of literature somewhere in the country! In these straitened times its unlikely.

Its the start of the competition season, I realised, when I got an email for this year's Manchester Fiction Prize. So popular was the 2009 prize that you'd probably be better off doing the lottery, I guess, but at least prizes concentrate the mind, and there's plenty of time to get your entry in. Disappointingly, for a prize that costs £15 to enter, there's a 3000 word limit. Hey ho, it is what it is.
Anyway, there appear to be a few more homes for short stories than there used to be, if this invaluable list from fellow Salt-y Tania Hershman is anything to go by.

Next week there's a couple of interesting literary events at Anthony Burgess Foundation. Don Bogen and Ian Pople are reading on Monday, and Paul Farley and Micheal Symmons Roberts are reading on Wednesday. More details of each on the Burgess website.


When I left Helsinki on Friday morning the news from Japan had not yet come through, and so it was a double shock when I switched on the television back in the UK. Since then, of course, the absolute horror that the country has been facing has grown almost hourly. At times like this, everything else seems to fade into the background, rightly so. You can donate to the Red Cross appeal here.

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