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Welcome to the May edition of the NCLA newsletter.

Newcastle Poetry Festival 2015

Celebrating the culmination of the AHRC-funded project ‘The Poetics of the Archive: Creative and Community Engagement with the Bloodaxe Archive’, March marked the inaugural Newcastle Poetry Festival, held at Northern Stage. Kicking off with the launch of Sean O’Brien’s T.S. Eliot-nominated The Beautiful Librarians (Picador, 2015) the Festival was packed full of readings, discussions, exhibitions and the prize-giving ceremony for the annual Basil Bunting Poetry Award. At its heart were readings from sixteen of the most exciting poets writing today and a showcase of the diverse body of work produced by writers and artists in response to examining the wealth of manuscripts and letters held within the Bloodaxe Archive. Readings from literary titans such as Sujata Bhatt, Susan Wicks, Mark Doty, Susan Stewart, Anne Stevenson and George Szirtes marked assured and powerful events, alongside readings from recent Bloodaxe debutants Niall Campbell, Rebecca Perry and Vidyan Ravinthiran, whose heavily acclaimed first collections have all been published within the last year. Readings in translation from Italian poet Antonella Anedda and French poet Valérie Rouzeau were particular highlights alongside Canadian poet Karen Solie and Kei Miller’s reading from his Forward prize-winning collection The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion (Carcanet, 2014). In addition to readings, the Friday afternoon saw an illuminating discussion on the Bloodaxe Archive featuring panelists Neil Astley, Linda Anderson, Richard Price and Jackie Kay talking about how an archive should be viewed as a living, breathing thing to be shared rather than hoarded. Crowning three days of exciting readings and discussions was a masterful performance from Michael Longley that moved all those in attendance and left everyone eager for next year’s Festival.

Filmed footage of the Festival will become available soon and copies of the beautiful catalogues will be available to purchase via the webstore for £8 (including UK postage & packing) but in the meantime photographs can be viewed here.

Chloe Daykin signs with Faber & Faber

After an impassioned UK auction on the eve of the Bologna book fair, Creative Writing MA graduate Chloe Daykin's debut novel for young adults, Fish Boy, and an as yet untitled second novel, have been snapped up by publisher Faber & Faber. Chloe began writing Fish Boy on Ann Coburn's 'Writing for Children' course and we are all thrilled for her!

'On the Wing'

In the past month four PhDs from Newcastle University's School of English Literature, Language & Linguistics travelled to Queen's University Belfast for a four day writing residency as part of the Catherine Cookson-funded project 'On the Wing'. This creative exchange continues this month when we welcome PhD students from the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry to Newcastle: there will be a free event at Newcastle's Lit & Phil on Friday 22nd May from 6-8pm. These residencies are part of a growing dialogue between Newcastle University and Queen's University Belfast as a result of the Northern Bridge partnership. Find out more on tumblr or follow the project on Twitter @goingonthewing.

May events at NCLA

On Thursday 30th April (almost May!) we are delighted to welcome David Almond and Alison Light to Culture Lab, Newcastle University to hear them read from their latest publications and in conversation with the opportunity for audience questions. Doors open at 6.45pm for a 7.15pm start so do come and enjoy a drink and browse the Blackwells bookstall before the event starts. Both authors will also be available to sign books after the event. Tickets are available via the webstore or by contacting Melanie Birch (0191 208 7619). Poets Christy Ducker and Cynthia Fuller will each read from new collections at this month's First Thursday at 1pm on 7th May in Room 3.38, Armstrong Building, Newcastle University. This is a free event and you are welcome to bring your sandwiches. A week later, on Thursday 14th May, William Fiennes will be in conversation with novelist Kamila Shamsie at 7.15pm in Room G.05, Percy Building, Newcastle University. Tickets are available via the webstore or by contacting Melanie Birch (0191 208 7619). The event on Friday 29th May at 6pm in the Clore Suite, Great North Museum: Hancock in celebration of Julia Darling’s work on poetry and health, which includes the launch of the 2015 Flambard Poetry Prize, is close to being sold out. However, other opportunities to share in this event may become available - details to follow.

Forthcoming events at NCLA

A successful season of events is almost drawing to a close but we still have another treat in store next month when acclaimed writers Val McDermid and Jackie Kay join us on Thursday 4th June in the Curtis Auditorium at 7.15pm to discuss the short story. As Jackie Kay says, 'I think the short story is perfect for our time, and perfect for people’s time. You can read a short story in your lunch hour or before you go to sleep and it’s a complete experience. You can carry the story around with you in your head and if you put it down in a large field it should still glow because of its intensity.' Tickets are available via the webstore or by contacting Melanie Birch (0191 208 7619).

The NCLA Review

This month's new writing piece 'The Christmas Fawn' is a short story by current English Literature with Creative Writing undergraduate Gavin Hetherington. Read more here.
If you would like to submit work to be considered for inclusion in future editions of this newsletter, submission guidelines are available here.

This month's review comes from poet Pippa Little who has been 'filled...with new spirit and hope' by our recent Poetry Festival and is going to spend her gift token on poetry. Read Pippa's full review here.

Any attendee of our events can submit a 'Flash Review' (50 words maximum) or longer review (200 words maximum) to be considered for inclusion and the winner will receive a £15 gift token as well as publication. A runner-up will receive a free ticket to a future event. Submissions should be made within five days of the event via the NCLA email address with 'Review of' followed by the event name in the subject line.

Further afield

Thursday 7th May is 'Poetry Day Ireland' and Tara Bergin will be reading at the National Gallery, Dublin on that day and at Books Upstairs in Dublin on Wednesday 6th May to celebrate the launch of Poetry Ireland's new publication Trumpet. As part of Southbank Centre's Changing Britain Festival, a newly-commissioned song written by Jackie Kay is to be included in 'a night of music inspired by social and political change', which is taking place the day after the General Election on Saturday 9th May in Queen Elizabeth Hall. All the songs to be performed in 'Notes to the New Government' have been co-curated by the London Sinfonietta with Matthew Herbert and the Royal Philharmonic Society.

From the archive...

February's sold out NCLA event with H is for Hawk (Random House, 2014) writer Helen Macdonald reading from her double award-winning book and in discussion with William Fiennes is now available to view on our archive.

Other news

Creative Writing PhD alumnus Christy Ducker has just launched her first full poetry collection Skipper (Smith/Doorstop, 2015) and will be reading from it at the next First Thursday (see above). Creative Writing MA Jessica Wortley launches her debut poetry pamphlet As If We Were The Trees (ruby wolf press) at 7pm on Wednesday 20th May at the Lit & Phil, Newcastle. Creative Writing MA alumnus Judy Walker is this year's winner of the Red Squirrel Press Sara Park Short Story Competition, judged by Kathleen Kenny and Ellen Phethean, and her pamphlet will be published next year.

Work by Gillian Allnutt, W.N. Herbert, Jackie Kay, Sean O'Brien, Jacob Polley and Ahren Warner appears in the Spring 2015 special transatlantic all-poetry issue of Ploughshares literary magazine, which features poetry selected by Bloodaxe editor Neil Astley. Creative Writing PhD alumnus Viccy Adams has had a paper called 'Blank Pages: The role(s) of the notebook in creating wellbeing during a series of creative writing workshops' published in the new National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) journal, Writing in Practice, which is open access and can be read online. Professor W.N. Herbert is a new addition to the Poetry Archive, complete with biography and recordings of some of his work, and the government of Chile has just bought 700 copies of Helen Limon's picture book My Mother is a Troll (Mi Madre es en Troll, Milrazones) to place in the public school libraries across the country.

Following on from her success with the SASH Writing Competition, current Creative Writing MA student Olivia Gwyne has been commended in the Homestart Bridgwater Short Story Prize 2015, judged by Tracy Chevalier. This year's National Poetry Competition successes include commendations for alumnus Eliot North current Creative Writing PhD candidate Beverley Nadin plus a place on the longlist for Christy Ducker and current PhD candidate John Challis (who wrote this month's lead article).

John Challis has been invited back to Rome's Keats-Shelley House in June, following his placement there earlier this year, to judge their 2015 Keats-Shelley House children and young people's poetry competition.  And current PhD candidate David Spittle was commissioned by Bergen National Opera to write a libretto for Nadja's Song, an adaptation of Breton's novel Nadja, for which he drew on his research on John Ashbery and Surrealism. The half hour piece has been performed in Manchester and Norway.

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Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts
Percy Building
Newcastle University
United Kingdom

Tel: 0191 222 7787

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