From 21 – 25 June 2017, the first ever WRITE Festival was held here at The Word, National Centre for the Written Word.
The 5 day festival was full of of unmissable events as we celebrated writing in all its forms with a host of award-winning writers.
The festival proved a huge success, with visitors being able to attend over 20 events including a poetry slam, writing workshops with authors such as Nancy Revell and Celia Bryce, an author talk with the fabulous Mark Billingham and Chris Brookmyre, a publishing masterclass, a script-in-hand performance and a laugh-out-loud talk at our ‘audience with’ Jason Cook event.
There was also the chance to enter 2 competitions – a ‘True Stories’ competition hosted by Michael Chaplin, where entrants submitted stories no longer than 500 words about real life events, and a Flash Fiction competition which was open to both under and over 16’s who could submit a flash story of up to 100 words! The winners of both competitions were announced during the festival in 2 separate celebration events where a selection of entries were read for the public to enjoy.
Writers in Residence
We also had 4 Writers in Residence who all showcased their work during the festival. Celia Bryce was our Poet in Residence, who hosted our Poetry Slam and produced a poem about the building and festival which was read out at our celebration event on Sunday 25 June. Niel Bushnell was our Writer in Residence who produced 2 short stories from his time spent in the building in the run up to the festival and Andrew Waugh was our Comic Artist in Residence who produced a comic about The Word – they both showcased their work during the festival on Saturday 24 June for visitors to see. Our final residency was with Faye Hanson who was our Writer in Residence tasked with creating a story to be told in our immersive StoryWorld. She produced ‘The Great Pirate Plot’ which was enjoyed by children under 7 and their families on Saturday 24 June.
An important aim for our first WRITE Festival was to engage our visitors and existing groups and allow them the opportunity to get involved. During WRITE Festival 2017, our Cuckoo Young Writers Group (now named New Writing North Young Writers) produced a Story Trail around the building which visitors could complete. Becci Sharrock was in the Atrium over a couple of days asking visitors to write a letter to either their past, present or future self as part of a wider participatory arts project titled ‘Letters to Myself’ she was involved with. The anonymous letters were then displayed for others to see/read. The Poetry Exchange ran one-to-one sessions where they asked visitors to share their favourite poem with them. The Word Choir also got involved and worked alongside professional composer and producer Will Lang to produce, record and perform their own original song which they called ‘Sand Dancers’.
Working with partners
We also worked with our friends and partners at The Customs House who brought the critically acclaimed hit ‘Austen’s Women’ to their theatre as part of the festival. The play saw thirteen of Auten’s heroines come to life in a bold revisiting of some of literature’s most fascinating works.