Leicester is a great city to be a writer in. It boasts five literature-focused festivals, poetry and spoken word opportunities, just under ten independent publishers (if you include the county), many local writing groups (from beginners to professional, genre and general). The three universities offer opportunities for writers, Kibworth’s The Bookshop will host launches and author events, Leicester’s Forbidden Planet hosts a small press day for graphic novels and comics and De Montfort University hosts States of Independence, the independent publishers and book sellers’ fair, in conjunction with Five Leaves and this year’s event is on 11 March.
The literary year starts at the end of February with Cultural Exchanges at De Montfort University (27 February – 3 March) featuring locals such as Will Buckingham and Nina Stibbe alongside Wayne Hemingway and Martin Bell. The end of June sees the start of Leicester Writes. In Autumn, Everybody’s Reading gets underway on 30 September for 10 days of reading, writing and performance events across the city. November sees 14/48 the Scriptwriting Festival at the Y Theatre and Literary Leicester organised by Leicester University. If that wasn’t enough there are also opportunities for local writers at the Comedy Festival, Spark children’s festival, Black History Month and the Journeys Festival.
There are local publishers of short stories, poetry, novels, children’s fiction, science fiction, fantasy and graphic novels: Crystal Clear Creators, Dahlia Publishing, Factor Fiction, Fox Spirit, Lamplight Press (based at Loughborough University who run the Thomas Overton Poetry Prize), Mantle Lane Press, Quirky Press, Soundswrite, Sweet Cherry Publishing and Off the Wall Theatre Company plus large print and audiobook publishers. Loughborough is home for Stage Left Theatre Company. The Asian Writer magazine is based in the city and The Coffee House magazine is based at Charnwood Arts.
In January 2017, Leicester’s Central Library started a new initiative, Write On, a Leicester Writers’ Showcase, with readings, question and answer and discussion sessions on the third Wednesday of each month. Its first event featured “Welcome to Leicester” poems about the city, the second “Lost and Found: stories of home from Leicestershire Writers” and the third on 15 March will feature local poet Carol Leeming. Regular spoken word/poetry events include Word! on the first Tuesday of every month at the Y Theatre, Shindig alternate months at the Western, House of Verse, Anerki, Moonshine Wordjam, Find the Right Words, and Pinggg…k amongst others.
Writers’ Groups include Leicester Writers’ Club, Soundswrite, South Leicestershire Poetry Stanza, The Speculators, Ashby Writers, Grace Dieu Writers, Lutterworth Writers, Evington Scribblers, Rhetoric Literary Society and Soundcafé amongst others. The Writing School, originally founded in Leicester but now run by Writing East Midlands, offers both one day workshops and longer creative writing courses and the three universities, De Montfort, Leicester and Loughborough offer creative writing courses.
Leicester may not have a dedicated writers’ studio like Nottingham, or a writers’ centre like Norwich and it could really do with a central point where writers, whether beginner or professional, could be put in touch with other local writers and organisations, but it does have a buzzing literature scene. The lists above are not exhaustive but give an overview of what’s happening in Leicester and Leicestershire.
Written by Emma Lee
Emma Lee’s most recent poetry collection is “Ghosts in the Desert” (IDP, 2015). She co-edited “Over Land, Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge” (Five Leaves, 2015) and “Welcome to Leicester”. Her short stories have been published in anthologies, most recently “Lost and Found: stories of home” and “Caught up in the Middle” was featured in a Story Fest podcast. Emma blogs at http://emmalee1.wordpress.com and writes book reviews for four poetry magazines. Currently she is Vice-President of Leicester Writers’ Club. She tweets @Emma_Lee1.
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