Thursday, 21 January 2010

Bye Bye....

We're no longer posting new content at this blog. If you want to keep up with us, come and join us at our new website - the Lancashire Writing Hub.

We're going to have the same information, news and reviews as always but instead of focusing just on Preston, we're blogging about events and opportunities that are taking place all over the county.

Our blog posts and reviews are still written by a dedicated volunteer team - but we're looking to expand that team with new writing opportunities for West and East Lancs bloggers.

Our links list has been expanded to an all singing, all dancing Lancashire Writing Directory - with a special section for bloggers across the county so you can network with other bloggers to your hearts' content. Email us, as always, if you want listing or spot a dodgy link.

Our new big projects for the site is the 'Your Writing' area - sign up and in exchange for not one of your English pounds, you can join a community who will read your work and give feedback on it - and be able to practice giving your own feedback and suggestions. This community is moderated by a panel of peer experts drawn from creative writing groups in Central and West Lancashire so you can post safe in the knowledge that feedback will be constructive, relevant and useful.

Otherwise, you can still contact me at


Thursday, 14 January 2010

2010 in 2010!

Just two months ago, we launched our own youtube channel, Lancashire Writing Hub, featuring a broad and broadening cross-section of North-West performing talent, with novelists, short-story writers, poets and musicians captured in all their stage-strutting glory. The channel is intended as a definitive archive of live-writing performance for the region and will continue to swell with material, including a fresh slice of clips from tomorrow night's Spotlight club up at Lancaster.

In those two months, the response has been extremely heartening - I've just looked at the visit-o-meter and it has just passed 2,010.

Norman Hadley

Monday, 11 January 2010

Word Soup: Jan 30th

Word Soup: Sophie Hannah and Martin Edwards - a discussion and panel event hosted by Jenn Ashworth
Ormskirk Library - FREE

There will be dark literary deeds occurring at Ormskirk Library on Saturday 30th January from 1pm as two leading crime fiction writers visit to read from and discuss their work. The names Sophie Hannah and Martin Edwards should be familiar to many a crime fiction aficionado and this is a rare chance to meet them in person and find out just what makes them tick.

Organised by Lancashire Writing Hub, the literary arm of emergent arts organisation They Eat Culture, the monthly ‘Live Lit’ event, ‘Word Soup’, has been a fixture at Preston venue The Continental since last April. These evenings have gone from strength to strength in this time and Word Soup has quickly established itself as one of the North West’s friendliest and most relaxed Live Literature Nights. Past events have featured spots from such luminaries as top crime authors Nicholas Royle and A.J Duggan, Doctor Who scribe Rob Shearman, and Steven Hall, cult author of The Raw Shark Texts.

After a successful Word Soup library event in Blackpool last October, Ormskirk Library is the latest site set for a visit with two first rate crime fiction authors in tow; Sophie Hannah and Martin Edwards.

Sophie is a best-selling crime fiction writer and poet whose books, Little Face, Hurting Distance and The Point of Rescue, have sold over 300,000 copies in the UK and have also been published in a number of different languages around the world. Sophie’s fifth collection of poetry, Pessimism for Beginners, was shortlisted for the 2007 T.S. Eliot Award, and in 2004 she won first prize in the Daphne Du Maurier Festival Short Story Competition for her suspense story, The Octopus Nest. Sophie’s poetry is studied at GCSE, A-Level and degree level across the UK.

Martin Edwards’ latest novel is Dancing for the Hangman, a fictional take on the Dr. Crippen case. His first novel, All the Lonely People, introduced the character of ‘Harry Devlin’ to the world and was nominated for a Crime Writers Association John Creasey Memorial Dagger for best first crime novel of the year. Since then, Martin has published six further Devlin novels, the highly popular Lake District Mystery series, featuring DCI Hannah Scarlet and historian Daniel Kind, and a stand-alone psychological suspense novel set in London called Take My Breath Away.

On top of all this, Martin has somehow also found the time to edit sixteen collections of crime fiction, publish seven legal books, as well as over 800 articles for newspapers and magazines as diverse as The Times, Good Housekeeping, International Management and Amateur Gardening.

Martin and Sophie will be reading and talking about their work and answering questions from the audience at the event, which, as with the Preston and Blackpool editions, will be hosted by the Preston author and blogger Jenn Ashworth, who was herself shortlisted for The Guardian’s ‘Not the Booker’ Prize last year for her own acclaimed novel, A Kind of Intimacy. A bookseller will also be in attendance, to provide those all-important copies for signing!

Word Soup: Sophie Hannah & Martin Edwards takes place at Ormskirk Library from 1pm-3pm on Saturday 30th January. Entry is free.

Ormskirk Library

Burscough Street Ormskirk

L39 2EN
Tel: 01695 573448

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Free Creative Writing Workshop

Are you interested in creative writing?
Here is a great opportunity to work with internationally published, prize winning, professional writer Kevin McCann and get your work published in a professionally produced publication.It is a creative writing project in which original historic documents and archives about Blackpool will be used as the inspiration for new pieces of writing. There will be an introduction led by archive professionals from the Lancashire Record Office exploring the history of Blackpool through archives. The project will also be supported by professional writer, Kevin McCann, who will be on hand to help, guide and advise on the creative writing process. At the end a professionally designed and produced publication of the finished pieces will be produced.When is it?

The project will run from Tuesday 26th January 2010 to Saturday 27th February 2010 with a special launch event on Tuesday 30th March. Please note participants will be expected to attend all the sessions.

Where is it?

6pm-8pm 26th January

Blackpool Central Library

Introductory Session

6pm-8pm 2nd February

Lancashire Record Office, Preston (help with transport if required)

A chance to see behind the scenes of the Record Office

6pm-8pm 16th February

Blackpool Central Library

Advice Session

11am-4pm 27th February

Blackpool Central Library

Half hour bookable 1 to 1 session with Kevin to discuss final editing

6pm-8pm 30th March

Blackpool Central Library

Celebration and book launch

How much is it?

The project is FREE OF CHARGE to all participants.

How do I get involved?

Places are strictly limited to 12. Places can be booked on a first come first served basis by emailing

Please ensure you are available for all the session before booking your place.

University programme offers path to literary success

An initiative to support emerging literary talent is being launched by
the University of Bolton in collaboration with the Chinese Arts Centre
in Manchester.

The Writers' Pathway starts in February 2010 and is aimed at new
writers, of Chinese descent. It will provide a 14-week programme to
develop the writers' craft through professional supervision and distance
learning with the help of a professional mentor.

The programme opens with a five-day residential workshop at the
prestigious Arvon Foundation Lumb Bank Centre in Hebden Bridge,
Yorkshire, and culminates in a showcase of practitioners' work at the
Octagon Theatre, Bolton.

Poets, novelists and playwrights can submit samples of their work and a
panel, comprising professional writers and University tutors, will make
the final selection for the 12 places available on the programme.

Rebecca Albrow, Project Manager, said: 'For someone still in the early
stages of their literary career, this programme could be the catalyst
that enables their talent to flourish and grow. Those taking part will
have the opportunity of working with renowned writers including experts
from BBC Writersroom.

'We're delighted to be working with the Chinese Arts Centre on this
project and looking forward to nurturing the careers of new North West
literary talents.'

For further information about the Writers' Pathway initiative please
or email

For further information please contact:

Rebecca Albrow
Creative Industries Project Manager
School of Arts, Media & Education
University of Bolton
Deane Campus
Room T4-076
Deane Road
Bolton BL3 5AB

(T) 01204 903332

Review of In Memory of Real Trees - by Mark Charlesworth

In Memory of Real Trees is the follow up to Mark Charlesworth’s debut poetry collection and, once again, there is much to recommend. Landscapes familiar to Sunrise and Shorelines are revisited but with a much keener eye. A gothic gauze is once again laid over the world in Dark Forest, Cemetery Song, Bitterest Sin and Anatomising the Killer, but there is progression from the first collection; Charlesworth has moved on from the musings of a younger poet and speaks with conviction about love, desire, hope and fear.

In many of the poems, love often fails to thrive, or if it does it is inextricably bound up with despair and death: “Love is a parasite deep in the grave”, says the narrator of Victims of Love. Love brings no happiness, only horror, as the macabre conclusion shows:

“There are times in life when we will always feel
Just like little dead girls lying on the beach.”

Even in the more hopeful love poems – Ghosts #2 and How to Stop Time, for example – Charlesworth brilliantly communicates the paradoxically insubstantial and yet permanent feelings of love:

“One second’s intensity can burn an imprint on time
-fleetingly seen from the corner of an eye-
Forge two ghosts together in inseparable binds.”

In Attic Room and Heart-Shaped Hole, however, the tone is less embittered, and a yearning honesty seeps out in the end of the latter. Behind all the nightmarish images, lies a simple human desire for companionship, the narrator saying that the simplest, throwaway pleasures

“would feel a little more extraordinary
With someone else there by my side.”

Interspersed with these seemingly personal concerns are sketches of other lives, damaged and loveless. Second Hand Model and Love Song focus on the mutability and superficiality of youthful beauty, while Collateral for the Company tells the story of a lonely man who is literally worked to death.

One of the strengths of In Memory of Real Trees is the way in which personal and global hopes and fears are interwoven, as demonstrated in the two poems which bookend the collection. The individual anxieties in Damaged Goods in Transit are writ large for all humanity in the aptly named Decision Time. Individual crises parallel the predicament we face as a species.

“Do you feel vulnerable dark and cold?
Too tired to sleep,
Too empty to weep...”

evolves into

“And if we settle for a doomsday scenario
On whose shoulders will rest the blame?”

Like love, a utopian society is possible, says Charlesworth, but not without effort and pain. We first have to walk a road “marked by repentance, recant and repair / or broken bones, regrets and mistakes”. Urban landscapes are as blighted as inner worlds. The city is a dark, bewildering, dangerous place and produces fractured, alienated people, with the opening stanza of Ghosts #1 echoic of both Blake’s London and Eliot’s Wasteland:

“A multitude of drifting shadows
Moving through the city street abyss
Forever haunt the same street corners
Where unseen ropes bound lifeless wrists”

Similarly in Early Morning Commuter, the narrator’s mindscape is mirrored in the world beyond his train window – the “tide of pollution”, the “rain-swept” tower blocks and the “dampness of a disconnected world” all driving him to find escape, both physically and mentally, in “a field of daffodils” where he “begs to be devoured”.

Like those in Sunrise and Shorelines, these are complex poems and demand to be read and re-read. Many of the pieces are dreamlike in their structure, making the world of the collection disorientating and obscured. As readers, as in life, we long for the world to make sense and inevitably it doesn’t; something which is captured well in these poems. Indeed, many of the poems are about the almost impossible task of finding a calm, meaningful space amidst the maelstrom. That aside, Charlesworth’s linguistic inventiveness sometimes gets a little lost in the whirling disorder and so, for me at least, the longer poems are not always as engaging as the shorter, crystallised observations.

There is evidence, though, of a poet finding his voice. Shipwreck, Bees and Bernese Winter are amongst the best in the collection because there is a more judiciously structured progression of ideas, the reader is drawn into the narrative, and there is a more accomplished control of images:

“The frozen green river was picturesque for a while
before absent festive ice-skaters left it still.”

“...the shop-keeper traipses to a cellar store,
cutting spectrums of fabric, lace strands and silk,
in burgundy, violet, thunder-sky-scarlet,
stoking incense, candles and spices enticing...”

Remarkably, Charlesworth has suggested that this will be his last collection of poetry. Personally, I think this would be a great shame as there is obviously so much potential here for him to become an excellent poet. He is clearly prolific and watches the world carefully. If more work emerges from Charlesworth, it would be nice to see a shorter, more thematically-focused collection which will allow the reader to savour the richness of his language and the poet to cut the skin of a particular aspect of human experience sharply. In the meantime, it is well worth reading In Memory of Real Trees. These poems deserve your time.

You can keep up to date with Mark Charlesworth’s writing at

Monday, 14 December 2009

Word Soup #8 'Old'

Lancashire Writing Hub is pleased to bring you Word Soup #8 - our last of the year, on the 22nd of December. Come and join us on a chilly winter's evening for an evening of writing, words and music. We start at eight, but if you fancy something warm for tea before hand, come early!

Special guests include Zoe Lambert

Zoe is a short story writer based in Manchester. She is published by Comma Press and her debut collection is forthcoming in 2010. She lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Bolton.

and Andrew Michael Hurley.

Born in 1975, Andrew was brought up in Preston. After living in Manchester and London he returned to Lancashire where he graduated from MMU with an MA in Creative Writing. He is the author of two short story collections - Cages and The Unusual Death of Julie Christie - and has had stories published in various on-line and print magazines. At the moment he is trying to write a novel about mistletoe, the Cold War and a boy with super-powers, and is a regular contributor to the Central Lancs Writing Hub.

We'll also be joined by sCribble, who'll be treating us to a showcase selection of writing from their members - some of whom will be making their very first forray onto the spoken word stage just for us.

Finally, you'll be hearing from poets Peter Crompton and Rachel McGladery. Rachael wowed us at the Word Soup #6 open mike, and we snapped her up for a turn as a booked performer.

Rachel has written ever since she can remember. She only began writing poetry early this year, although since she discovered open mike at Word Soup she has become tiresomely prolific and has had three piece published at Pygmy Giant. She also writes a family life column in her local paper and has just completed at 50,000 word novel written in 30 days with NaNoWriMo.

Peter Crompton has performed at Word Soup before - both on the open mike and as a booked performer. Peter has a profile and a blog on the Write out Loud site and a photography showcase here.

Musical interludes for the evening will come courtesty of the talented Karima Francis: myspace here.

As always, the doors open at 8pm and we'll be starting shortly afterwards, so come early if you want a seat because (as you regulars will know) we've been getting busier and busier.

If you want to sign up for open mike, come and find me when you get here, or speak to Robyn on the door who will be happy to sign you up for your three minutes of spoken word glory. The night will be filmed by You Tube Channel curator and digital archivist extraordinaire Norman Hadley, and hosted by me, Jenn Ashworth. You can listen along at home by following the #wordsoup hashtag on twitter.


Friday, 11 December 2009

Video Channel Expands North

You lucky, lucky people. Not only do we provide you with video clips of the finest writers and singers from the Prestonlands, but we will even venture north on your behalf, to gently lower our butterfly net over Lancaster's literary luminaries. That's right, the video channel that we set up last month (and has already had nearly 700 views) is expanding to include performances from Lancaster Spotlight. The content has nearly doubled and will double again over the weekend - a bit like the National Debt but in a good way.

If you're an event organiser, you can use this resource as a growing library of performers to fill your stage.

If you're a performer, feel free to embed clips in your site and blogs (only please drop in some kind words and some even kinder links about Lancashire Writing Hub).

Or if you went to one of these nights and just want to relive your favourite acts, you can do that too. And don't forget to keep supporting both Word Soup and Spotlight because performers need people to perform to.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Intermediate Creative Writing Course

Lancashire Writing Hub presents the Intermediate Creative Writing Course
- hosted by novelist and short story writer Jenn Ashworth. This short,
intensive course is aimed at writers who are working on short stories,
flash fiction collections or novels. Learn to structure and edit longer
pieces of work, receive feedback and develop your writing process from
initial idea to finished product. Three separate 3 hour sessions -
Saturday 9th January, Saturday 23rd January and Saturday 6th February -
all sessions 2 - 5pm in the Snug, Contintental, South Meadow Lane

Jenn Ashworth is an experienced workshop tutor and has had short stories
published variously in magazines both on and off line. Her first novel,
A Kind of Intimacy, was named as a Waterstones New Voice and shortlisted
for the Guardian's Not The Booker Award. She writes an award winning
blog, has just completed work on her second novel and currently hosts
the monthly live lit night Word Soup here at the Continental.

Cost: £70 for all three sessions (attendance at all three sessions is
required - fees are non-refundable)

Initial expressions of interest to

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Free Event from Chorley Writers' Circle

Writing Group Members! - Join us for the launch of Chorley Writers’ new book +

Entertainment from Poet Ann Wilson &

A great opportunity to meet other local writers

Tuesday 8th December 2009 @ 8pm

New Continental, Preston

Free entry (but you need to book your place)

Chorley & District Writers’ Circle would like to invite members of local writing groups to the launch of our annual publication Aware.

The event takes place on Tuesday 8th December at the New Continental in Preston and promises to be a great evening.

There will be entertainment from humorous poet Ann Wilson and her ukulele.
We will also be announcing the winners of our Poetry competition as well reading work from Aware.
Finally, we are launching a new online resource for local writers funded by the National Lottery.

The event is free and open to all writers – it’s a fantastic opportunity for local writing groups to get together.

Places are limited so if you would like to attend please email to make a booking by 2nd December AT THE LATEST.
We look forward to seeing you!


Chorley & District Writers’ Circle

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Interview with Mark Charlesworth on the publication of his second book of poetry, In Memory of Real Trees

It's 3pm and I'm standing outside Caffe Nero, waiting to meet Mark Charlesworth, the poet. Mark is also standing outside Caffe Nero, waiting to meet me. The only problem - as we eventually realise – is I am in Lytham and he is in St Anne's. 

One quick bus journey later we are ready to start the interview, no real harm done. It's an occupational hazard when there's a ubiquitous Coffee House on every high-street. We chose Nero because Mark is a vegan and here in Suburbia the major chains are the only place you can get soya milk. I say this because it seems typical of the myriad contradictory challenges of Modern Life which so fascinate Charlesworth: where we are forced into making bizarre choices between Veganism and Globalisation, or Fair Trade V Organic, Locally Available V Superfoods. Mark's poetry finds modernity confusing, worrying and often painfully self-aware.

I have armed myself with a Vegan-friendly green tea and a serious expression, but within five minutes of meeting, Mark has used the words 'warm and fuzzy' to describe one of his favourite poems, and concludes the interview with a persuasively positive slant on the recession.  While grappling with dark and socially aware themes, there is ultimately an irrepressible love of beauty throughout Mark's writing which makes both reading and listening to him a pleasure.


Daisy: The Central Lancs Writing Hub (formerly Preston Writers Network) focuses on the Lancashire literary community. Do you believe specific places can shape and inspire its inhabitants in unique ways and have any places particularly inspired you?

To an extent, yes. This latest book really began to take shape after I attended a wedding in Blackpool. After a while the music began to grate a little and my friend and I decided to go for a walk. It's weird because I've always slagged off Blackpool because of its seediness, its tackiness, and the commercial aspect of it, but we took a walk through all that, quite a way out onto the beach, and then we turned back to Blackpool... All the illuminations were sparkling, like Christmas lights, and it looked almost picturesque. We were seeing Blackpool from this whole new perspective. It started to rain then and the lights through the rain looked... fuzzy. [Laughs] - You don't get words like that in the book, 'warm and fuzzy', honest. 'Carnation' was the poem that eventually emerged from the contrast between the tackiness of the golden mile and the original seafront which attracted the Victorian tourists in the first place. It wasn't the first poem I wrote for the book, but it was the one which gave it structure.

I've also always enjoyed going to Leeds on the train, through the hills and the bleak industrial towns. Despite all the crumbling buildings, there's a beauty about them, set into the jagged hills, which Southerners might not get. The poem turns round the clichés and throws them back at the detractors. The picture on the cover of the book is of Fairhaven Lake, another inspiring spot.

Daisy: Could you tell us a little about your background?

I'm twenty-three, and a Northerner born and bred; I went to college at Cardinal Newman in Preston, before studying English at UCLAN. The course there had some optional creative writing modules, and while at college my English teacher always encouraged us to submit writing to him. I self-published my first book, Sunrise and Shorelines in 2008 and am launching my second book of poetry, In Memory of Real Trees, at The New Continental on the 28th of November. I feel the first book gave me the confidence to start down the road of self-publishing, and with the second I've introduced more of a theme and concept to the work.

Daisy: In terms of poets, who would you cite as influences?

That's hard, I suppose I haven't followed poetry in a linear fashion; Simon Armitage certainly, and Ted Hughes. I'm a big admirer of Baudelaire, especially his poem 'A Carcass' which is about this disgusting cadaver but somehow Baudelaire manages to make it almost beautiful... I think the first book displayed these influences more prominently, it was straight up Nu-Gothic – one reviewer called it that and spelt it that awful 'N-U' way! (Ed. Whoops so did I). Who else? I admire Roger McGough's stark, concise stanzas which somehow manage to contain so much emotion. Then there's our new poet laureate, Carol Anne Duffy.

[The interview here deteriorates into a discussion on the merits of Duffy who still brings back bitter memories of school and forced readings of 'Valentine' for me. Mark suggests I should revisit her as he didn't appreciate her work until he was older, and thinks teaching her in school is a mistake.]

Daisy: I'm interested in the distinction between music and poetry, are there any musicians who have inspired your poetry and to what extent do you think the two forms are interrelated?

I think certainly the line between poetry and music is blurred at best. I'm a big fan of The Smiths. I remember someone read some of the lyrics out in a presentation while I was at University and it was strange how un-lyrical they sounded read aloud. The magic takes place in the way he sings them, and so I suppose there is a distinction there. I also love Nick Cave - the way he constructs lyrics is so totally idiosyncratic, they almost shouldn't work but they do. I also like The Waterboys, especially their song 'Bring 'Em All In', which is extremely poetic.

In first book two of the poems are actually adapted from song lyrics we'd written, and in the new one the poem 'Bitterest Sin' also. It works both ways too, a friend recently read 'Second Hand Model' from the latest book and called me to say he thought it would work really well as a song. So that's a case of poetry inspiring music.

To diverge from the question slightly, I went to an exhibition earlier this year at the Tate Modern which looked at the connection between poetry and painting: Poetry is a snapshot of the world much like a painting is; it takes one concise idea and inspires a train of thought and emotion, and I thought that was a nice idea. In the book the poem '11 Self Portraits' was inspired by this.

Daisy: Are you PC literate? What forms of so-called 'social networking' do you favour and what have you found most effective in creating publicity and maintaining interest?

Yes I'm certainly part of the PC literate generation. But you have to pick and choose, because there are so many different ways to communicate out there that you can spread yourselves too thinly. I looked into various different options to publicise my first book and at the time the buzz about Twitter was just getting started. But Twitter really didn't appeal to me; I don't like the way it reduces everyone to soundbites, whereas with blogging you can actually construct varying arguments, and people can state their case and back it with evidence. I think this reduction of everything to mere soundbites is dangerous to society actually. To elaborate is in a writer's nature. So yes, I avoid Twitter but I do have a blog ( and I try to promote it on forums, link to MySpace, Facebook etc. I've found though that sometimes the old-fashioned ways work best. Last year while I was publishing the first book I asked anyone interested in hearing more to scribble their email addresses down – I ended up with a mailing list of over a hundred people. So I use that to update people and I've had a surprising level of responses – sometimes I think there's so much out there that things can sink and get buried. Communicating with people directly can be more successful. Obviously this wouldn't be possible for bigger writers, but I feel privileged to be able to respond to people individually.

Daisy: You've self-published your first two books, why did you make the decision to go down this road to publication?

Originally it was partly because it's much harder to pitch poetry to mainstream publishers. There's a lot of cliché surrounding poetry; people see it as dark and arty and they don't want to go near it. I think there's less of a commercial aspect. At the same time I think there's becoming more of a market for it. I also wanted to some extent to create and control my own reputation by self publishing poetry as a way to progress towards publishing a novel. One step at a time, you know, but I am trying to increase exposure and I have quite a fixed plan. The next book is going to be a concept book dealing with issues very close to my heart and so naturally I would like a wider audience for it. That will be my last book of poems. I don't want to be in danger of repeating myself...

Daisy: That's a very intriguing idea; the attempt to avoid repetition as a writer. Many of our best writers seem to return time and again to the same preoccupations. Some writers (and readers) embrace that and some try consciously to avoid it – do you think it's even possible to do so?

To go back to the previous question, Nine Inch Nails are a big influence, and I read an interview with them recently after their final tour –which was amazing- and they said they had bowed out because they wanted to end it while they were at the peak of their game. I'm hoping I have the willpower after this next book to say that's it for poetry and I'm moving onto prose. I'm not saying I won't return to it at some point in the future but I would want to put a lid on it for the time being. But I'm getting ahead of myself! I would like to get an agent at that stage anyway. I would want to ease up a bit if I were publishing a novel as I'm a bit of a control freak when self-publishing.

Daisy: You talked about the fact that poetry isn't very commercial – and I think the same thing is true of short stories, novellas – do you think the 'credit-crunch' has affected the publishing prospects for writers of these genres and would you advise writers who aren't currently getting offers from mainstream publishers to self-publish or wait it out until the economy has improved?

The society we live in now can be a bleak place sometimes, but there are hopeful things which come out of there: Although yes, this recession can mean mainstream publishers are clinging to their cash cows, it's possible to see it as a good thing because it leads people to take things into their own hands - not just in publishing, but big business and retail as well. 

In recent times we've seen a very corporate world in which people have had to ally themselves with a brand, or publisher, and ultimately they compromise their integrity to an extent, just to get their work out there. Now I think people are starting to realise they have to take personal responsibility for themselves and their lives. In a way I think we are witnessing the rebirth of the Age of Independence – not just in terms of writing but in the way people approach their lives; like renewable power, growing their own vegetables, self-sufficiency in lifestyles and business occupations. I think that's a very positive thing. 

Perhaps I'm being too optimistic, but it seems to me we're actually making poetry more commercially viable for the future. I'm certainly seeing more grassroots arts events out there recently [like our own Word Soup!] and then there's the web of course – there's a whole network of tools and resources out there for writers. I think in a way the recession or 'credit-crunch' has led to a widespread feeling of empowerment, and it's this sense of being empowered which will carry us into the next era.


In Memory of Real Trees can be purchased through Mark's blog and at the book launch this evening (Saturday the 28th) at The New Continental here in Preston.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

The 4th edition of ‘Pinhole Camera’

the magazine from the University of Cumbria,

invites submissions for


Max word length: 2000 words or 40 lines of poetry

Writing can be of any genré or style but there must be a Cumbrian link with either writer or work.

closing date for submissions:


publication in April, 2010.

and, as an added bonus why not enter our ‘Flash Fiction’ competition too?

Tell us a story in no more than 100 words. All Flash-fiction entries will be posted on the up-coming website and the stories voted the best by our readers will get copies of the magazine and the opportunity to read out winning entries at our spectacular launch event in April 2010, date & Venue tba

go on, you know you want to!

Exposure welcomes entries by post or email:

to submit, or for more information contact:






Tel/Text : 07930 236 122

Monday, 23 November 2009

Central Lancs Hub

Those of you who are eager in your wishes to be kept updated with the best and most up to date literature news and events in Preston and beyond will already be subscribing to this blog in a reader... you sensible lot.

However, you might want to consider clicking through and visiting us at home just this once - as well as our well-furnished sidebar, offering you the very best in Preston Blog Directories, poetry, performance and literature links for our region and elsewhere in the UK, you'll also want to come in and see our brand new title.


Up there. ^^

There you go.

We are no longer the Preston Writing Network. Exciting things are afoot. We are expanding and extending in our endeavours to bring you high quality news, reviews, events and information. For the time being, we're going to be called the Central Lancs Writing Hub - reflecting our tendency to take in events and information that extends beyond the boundaries of the city of Preston.

Shortly before Christmas we'll be changing again, and moving house to a brand-new website comissioned by They Eat Culture. The new website, swish, sophisticated and still-in-the-making, will be called The Lancashire Writing Hub and will include The Central Lancs Hub and our new, currently in development, West Lancs Hub.

Don't get scared. It sounds complicated, but really it isn't. Stand by to change your feed, subscription or bookmarks, and come with us to our new address - launching just before Christmas. We're excited. You should be too.

If you have any questions or comments or want to join our merry band of volunteer bloggers (especially if you're West Lancs based) email me at

Word Soup #7 'Home'

Our regular Word Soup reviewer, the lovely and talented Mel Webster, had the cheek to go away on her holidays so it's only me this time. Apologies for inaccuracy, misspelling, dearth of good jokes and lack of insightful yet witty comments about shoes in advance...

Our seventh Word Soup took place, as did the previous eight, in the Continental Events Space. A slight change to our usual format meant we missed out on our popular open mike section (sorry guys) and instead hosted Bewilderbliss - a Manchester based creative writing magazine. But more about that later.

Our first performer was Mark Charlesworth - a Preston based blogger and poet who's been featured fairly regularly on the PrestonWN blog by our in-house reviewer Andrew Hurley, as well as at previous Word Soups. We were pleased to welcome him back for a selection of Home themed poems that acted as a preview to his new poetry collection, In Memory of Real Trees. Mark will be launching the collection here at the Continental on the 28th November - the event is free and all are welcome. We'll also be reviewing the collection here very shortly.

Paul Sockett made a much welcome return to our stage all the way from his home in Great Harwood with a collection of poems that examined just what 'home' actually means - emphasising that home is not always a safe sanctuary with a chilling and disturbing poem titled 'One Thousand'. Paul's a confident, charismatic performer and certainly one of Word Soup's best discoveries - an actor by profession, he prefers to be called 'an actor who writes' rather than a writer...

Rounding off the first half, we were especially pleased to welcome West Lancashire novelist Carol Fenlon - who read from her award winning debut novel, Consider the Lilies. Structured as a series of diary entries from an unusual and isolated woman living in rural West Lancs in the 1960s, her writing had the whole room enthralled - one audience member visiting from south Manchester commented that he really got a sense of a Lancashire voice from Carol's work.

After a short break and a wee bit of music from Kevin Wilkinson, we returned to the main stage with a set from Bewilderbliss. Curated by the magazine's editor Jon Davies, we heard from magazine contributors and Manchester students Holly Ringland, Mathew Hull, Valerie O'Riordan and Jonathan Davies himself. The guests went down a storm, with a varied collection of pieces that showcased the best of Manchester writing. You can read Valeries' account of her first ever live performance at her blog - here (clicky clicky).

Bewilderbliss have their own website - do pop over (but please come back) to read interviews and reviews and find out more about their magazine - now open for submissions. They accept poetry and prose and aim to showcase the very best in new writing - it would be great to have a Prestonian featured there... all issues are themed and all submitted pieces should be on the theme 'untruthful' - a theme set by yours truly. So get submitting, and tell them we sent you..

Our final two performers were certainly worth waiting for. Mollie Baxter travelled to us from Morecambe. A very experienced musician, writer and performer with pieces published by Lancaster based publisher, Flax - she treated the audience to a short story first published in Before the Rain with an alternative ending written especially for the evening - and followed up with an account of a flat that had many members of the audience nodding in recognition.

Last up we had Thomas Fletcher - Thomas is an accomplished writer and poet based in Manchester, also published by Flax and with his first novel, The Leaping, forthcoming in 2010 by Quercus Books. His editor Nick Johnston has said Tom's work

'speaks for a generation that's got the highest level of university education in history, but has largely found themselves trapped in mind-numbing temp work. He's perfectly captured the fear and violence that lurk beneath the surface of our society.'

Fear and violence were certainly in the offing for the last story of the night - an uncanny, almost supernatural tale of a woman pursued by a mysterious entity called 'home' - observed by her husband who can watch, but do nothing to help her. This was an unsettling tale - playing with our assumptions about 'hearth and home' and undermining our expectations at every turn. Tom's deadpan, highly controlled delivery perfectly suited the subject matter, and left the audience wanting more. Watch it for yourself here:

And that's all for Word Soup in November. With, as always, our thanks going to Daisy Baldwin who researched and created our performer profiles, and Norman Hadley who filmed the clips you see here, and the addition clips of the night which you can view at your leisure on the Lancashire Writing Hub YouTube Channel.

We'll be back in December with Word Soup #8 - 'Old' with appearances from Zoe Lambert, Rachel McGladdery, Peter Crompton and a showcase spot from sCribble - as well as a return to our much missed open mike section of the night. See you there!