Out on a dike

Out on a dike phr. [mid 19-C] (US) going out in one's best clothes. [DIKED DOWN] I'm out as a dyke, occasionally out with a dyke. What I do when I'm out on a dike can become your business once I write about it here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Nottingham is a Festival of Words

Pippa Hennessy has given me a hefty nudge to get on with something. It's about time too! Could there be any better way to begin afresh all over again at this old blog than in celebration of Nottingham's second Festival of Words?

I've been tagged! And there's not even a curfew. Just a licence to write.

I'm blogging for Nottingham in support of Nottingham Festival of Words which takes place in October this year. Once I've said a few words I'm delighted to be passing the baton to Vic Oldham and Amy Dunne, and you know you're in for a treat because they even have 'writer' and 'author' in their blog titles.

What’s your connection with Nottingham and its spoken and written words?
I arrived in Nottingham in 1995 to work at Nottingham Women's Centre, after giving up a PhD about the marketing of fiction and how lesbians may operate as a community of readers. Let me get three things clear: I never gave up on lesbians; I never gave up on reading; and I never gave up on the promise of words to assist in building community. I brought all of that with me and discovered a new community to share this with.

Nottingham immediately excited me with its thriving voluntary and community sector. The Women's Centre housed a wonderful library of fiction, non-fiction, theory and grassroots activism. In fact, the library is undergoing a rejuvenation as I write and the Women's Centre asks you to watch this space on their site.

I wanted to call myself a writer from as early as I can remember. I only joined the Brownies so I could gain the writer's badge, and poetry became my preferred way to express myself, so I was already keen to mix with other creative people. Nottingham has been the base where I can embrace local grassroots activity as well as explore the wider world. I got involved with the trAce Online Writing Centre at Nottingham Trent University in 2000 and collaborated with writers across the globe. trAce is a piece of Nottingham (and world) writing history that shouldn't be forgotten, and fortunately the trAce Archive is preserved and searchable.

Nottingham continues to nurture my identity as a lesbian who writes. I've been able to get involved with Sapphist Writers and currently the Rainbow Writers' (LGBTQ) group which  meets on the third Thursday of the month at Nottingham Writers' Studio. We're so lucky that Nottingham is also home to the Bold Strokes Book Festival in the UK. The next tagged bloggers, Vic and Amy, will be able to tell you more about that.

What do you love about Nottingham and its creative scene right now?
What's not to love? Nottingham represents opportunity for a writer or spoken word performer. It's friendly and compact, so it's easy to find your way around, but also large enough to have such variety on offer, including being able to develop fresh ideas and community projects.

For instance, I'm part of the Living with Depression Community of Interest in Nottinghamshire and creativity forms a large part of our awareness-raising and campaigns. We promote ourselves as Depression Expression and we're encouraging personal storytelling in order to improve local depression services. There's still a chance to get involved in the storytelling project and we're keeping our call for contributions open.

Being involved last year in the first Nottingham Festival of Words was really motivating for me: having a goal to work towards with the promise of a supportive audience. There was a whole LGBTQ literature strand, and I was able to perform new material written especially for the Festival.

It's the diversity on my doorstep which I enjoy, and I'm really proud to be a member of Nottingham Writers' Studio which is doing a great job of expanding the city's literary reputation and heritage.

How would you describe Nottingham to a visitor coming for the Festival of Words?
Nottingham has helped me to learn what it is to be part of a vibrant community of writers. You can be sure of a warm welcome and get yourself introduced to diverse, talented voices. There's something for everyone here. Don't miss out.

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