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News from New Writing North: 11 September 2009

Northern Talent networking event brings two authors closer to publication
At the end of July, New Writing North took 11 Northern Writers’ Awards winners and other promising writers to London for a meet-and-greet with agents and editors from all over the publishing industry.

We’re delighted to announce that since that event, Northumberland writer Mari Hannah has been taken on by Oli Munson at Blake Friedmann Literary Agency. You can read Mari’s entry on Blake Friedmann’s website at www.blakefriedmann.co.uk/bookClients/_400/.

Also, Carolyn Jess-Cooke, a poet and novelist from Gateshead and winner of a Northern Promise Award in 2008, is in advanced talks with another agent about representation and has had very positive feedback from editors too.

Both authors will be talked about to overseas buyers at next month’s Frankfurt Book Fair, the biggest publishing industry event in the world, with both agents expecting great things from their new recruits.

It was the first time that New Writing North had undertaken this kind of event, and we hope to do it again in the future. We hear that several other writers who came with us to London are in talks with agents and editors after having met them at the event, but we’re sworn to secrecy for now… Watch this space!

Looking for Githa author Pat Riley on Woman’s Hour – right now!

If you turn on your radio right now you may just be in time to hear Pat Riley on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, talking about Looking for Githa, her autobiography of Gateshead writer Githa Sowerby, which is published by New Writing North to coincide with the first ever North East performance of her best known play, Rutherford & Son, at Northern Stage from 18 September-3 October. Pat is is joined on Woman’s Hour by Professor Viv Gardner of Manchester University to talk about Githa’s life and work. The programme also includes an interview with Rutherford & Son director Richard Beecham. If you can’t make it to the show, copies of the book are available to buy in the
New Writing North shop. Woman’s Hour is available on iPlayer for seven days after broadcast.

Colin Sharp
We were deeply saddened to hear of the death of Newcastle-based writer Colin Sharp, who was taken ill on his birthday, 5 September, and later died from a brain haemorrhage.

Colin had had a colourful life and a varied career in the arts. He had been lead singer and songwriter with post-punk band The Durutti Column, an actor, and a lecturer at Newcastle College and North Tyneside College. His writing included radio plays Dalek, I Love You and S , as well as the music memoir Who Killed Martin Hannett?: The Story of Factory Records’ Musical Magician.

A loving father to Adam, Emily-Rose and Grace and brother of Maysie and Gordon, he will be much missed by them and by all his family and friends. His funeral is on Tuesday 15 September at The West Road Crematorium, Newcastle, at 3.30pm.

In the North East

Whitley Bay litfest: Saturday 17 October at St Paul’s Church, Whitley Bay
Combining a book fair, author and poetry readings, writing workshops and local theatre company performances, WORDplay is an artistic departure in the cultural calendar of North Tyneside. Fifteen top northern publishers will attend the Book Market, and local authors including Peter Mortimer, Kitty Fitzgerald and Carol Clewlow will read from their most recent work. Also in attendance are Nik Jones and Valerie Laws from our Read Regional 2009 campaign. Short performances by local drama groups will be interspersed with the readings. Entry to the event is free. Writing workshops will also be taking place. For further information on the festival or the authors, workshop leaders and performers, contact Linda MacFadyen on
events@culturequarter.org or call her on 0191 280 1080.

Submissions wanted for Iron Book of New Humorous Verse

Iron Press is looking for new funny poems on any theme to include in an anthology of new comic verse by and for grown-ups. They are seeking comic poems which either have a publication date no earlier than 1990 or are unpublished. They will be looking in recent collections, poetry magazines and other sources and are also inviting submissions. Included poets will receive a small payment, a copy of the book and the opportunity to read at launch events, but no prizes – this isn’t a competition.There are full submission guidelines at

Writers Meeting in Durham

Durham-based writers Pat Barker and Fadia Faqir would like to extend an invitation to professional writers of prose, fiction and poetry, who live and work in the North East, to join them for a new regular event. The idea is to create a regular meeting opportunity for professional writers in Durham, where over a cup of tea there is time to talk. The group, Writers Meeting in Durham, will be hosted by St Aidan’s College at Durham University, where Fadia is beginning a writing fellowship. This is an open invitation. The first meeting will take place on Friday 25 September and refreshments will be provided. If you would like to join the group, please drop Fadia an email at

New writing group in North Tyneside

A writer based in North Tyneside is looking to set up a writing group in the area for fellow writers who are very serious about pursuing their writing and getting published, especially in the field of poetry. If you’re interested in the opportunity to network and develop your writing in North Tyneside, please get in touch with New Writing North at
office@newwritingnorth.com and we’ll forward your contact on to the writer who is hoping to set the group up.


Shatila production comes to the North East
Cullercoats writer Peter Mortimer is this week travelling 3,000 miles to rehearse a play which will open in less than a fortnight in South Shields. Mortimer is returning to Shatila refugee camp, Beirut, where he lived for two months last year. His book, Camp Shatila: A Writer’s Chronicle, is published by Five Leaves Publications. During his time in Shatila, the author created with local children a play based on one of his own fables, which the young actors performed on his final day. This same production, with its original Palestinian cast, is now coming to the North East, and Pete is spending a week in Beirut knocking the piece back into shape. The play, Croak, The King and a Change in the Weather, opens at The Customs House on 23 September, and also plays at The Saville Exchange, North Shields (25-26 September) Bellingham Town Hall (27 September) and The Sage Gateshead (28 September). Supplementing the all-female cast for the UK production are four girls from Whitley Bay High School. The 15 strong Palestinian cast and crew fly into Newcastle on Monday 21 September.

North East author David Almond is chosen as Liverpool Read

Graphic novel The Savage, written by David Almond and illustrated by Dave McKean, has been chosen as the Liverpool Reads book for 2009. The city-wide initiative, coordinated by The Reader Organisation at the University of Liverpool, encourages the reading and sharing of one book each year. 20,000 copies of The Savage (published by Walker Books) will be given away across the fomer City of Culture from 15 September.


Congratulations to Robin Bray, a retired doctor, whose most recent post was at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary. His first book, Walking on Bridges, was launched at Waterstone’s in Newcastle on 8 September. It’s published by Cumbrian publishing house Hayloft, and is available to buy at booksellers throughout the North East. You can read an interview with Robin in
The Telegraph.

Congratulations also to Tony Horne, who most of you will know as the presenter of Metro Radio’s breakfast show. Tony has just published his first book, Hornes Down Under, about his family’s once-in-a-lifetime trip to Australia, taking to the road in a rented campervan. Tony will be taking part in the Durham Book Festival, so you’ll be able to talk to him about the book then. Details to follow when the programme for Durham Book Festival is announced on Tuesday 15 September.

National opportunities

Theatrical social networking site Bushgreen needs test users

London’s Bush Theatre is developing a social networking website, ‘bushgreen’, for people working in theatre to connect, collaborate and publish plays in innovative ways. They are currently looking for 500 test users to be the first to use the site to let them know how they would like it developed. The first users will be playwrights, directors, producers, actors, agents and publishers from the UK and abroad with various levels of experience, from well-known and published playwrights to emerging professionals and recent graduates. If you would like to be one of the first users, contact Ant Stones at
assistantdirector@bushtheatre.co.uk with a little information about yourself and any work you may have done previously. For more information, call 020 8743 3584.

Approaching deadline for young people’s arts awards
The closing date is drawing nearer for applications to the Young Musicians Fund, the George Loggie Fund and the Alan Hull Award at the Community Foundation. In total these funds give out up to £6,000 a year to young people in the North East. Details can be found at
www.communityfoundation.org.uk. Deadline for applications is Monday 19 October.


Opportunities for creative writing tutors

The Open University has vacancies for creative writing tutors for their undergraduate course A215 starting this October. It also has vacancies for a children’s literature tutor and a tutor on the nineteenth century novel. For information on both the course and teaching for the OU, see
www.open.ac.uk. Additional information is available from Lynn Cain at l.f.cain@open.ac.uk.

Creative writing courses in the North East

WEA writing courses

The next set of 10-week sessions begins on Wednesday 16 September, 10.30am-12.30pm, at the WEA offices, 21 Portland Terrace, Jesmond, close to Jesmond Metro Station. Come and read your own work (at whatever stage), take part in constructive criticism about your and every member’s writing and brush up on your writing techniques. For more information contact the tutor on 0191 274 7803 or email

The WEA is also running a creative writing course called Your Imagined Street every Wednesday beginning 16 September for 10 weeks, 6pm-8pm at the Nunsmoor Centre in Newcastle’s West End, close to the BBC TV Studios. For more information, contact the Nunsmoor Centre on 0191 226 1006 or tutor Gordon Phillips at either of the above addresses.

Creative writing for women in Durham
Explore new approaches to writing and how writing can be beneficial to health and wellbeing. All welcome, regardless of experience. Starts 22 September for eight weeks at Alington House, Durham, 7pm-9.30pm. Contact Pj Buchanan on 07768 072850 or email
poetryjack@hotmail.com. The cost for the course is £40.

Time to Write classes in Hexham
A new six-week autumn writing course run by local poet Linda France starts at Queen’s Hall Arts Centre on Thursday 17 September. The classes will run on Thursdays, 6.15pm-8.30pm, for six fortnightly sessions and the total cost is £50. To book, contact Queen’s Hall box office on 01434 652477.

Free screenwriting classes in Newcastle with Wendall Thomas
Lecturer, casting director and writer Wendall Thomas will bring her 20 years of Los Angeles-based industry experience to two day-long free seminars to be held in Newcastle. The classes are run by Northern Film & Media:

The Dreaded Second Act: A Practical Guide (Tuesday 22 September)
Advanced Story Structure: Piece by Piece (Wednesday 23 September)

For more details about the classes, and more developed themes, see www.northernmedia.org.

Reading and writing groups in north Northumberland

Berwick reading group is celebrating its eleventh birthday next month. The group meets in Berwick Library on the third Friday of every month at 6pm. A teen reading group also meets at the library, and both groups are open to new members. The next meeting is at the library on 18 September. Creative writing classes are also held in the library from Wednesday 16 September, 2pm-4pm, and then on a fortnightly basis. Details and enquiries for all groups from

Deadline for the next newsletter
If you have news that you would like to submit for inclusion in the newsletter please contact olivia@newwritingnorth.com. The deadline for receipt of information for the next newsletter is 21 September. The next edition of The Listening Post covering October's literature events will go out in late September. If you have events that you would like to submit for inclusion, you will need to send information by 20 September to olivia@newwritingnorth.com.


While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this newsletter is correct at the time of going to press, things do change, frequently at the last minute and very often without our knowledge.