Writers' Centre Kingston : Year one in review
(2017 / 2018)
A grand first year of Writer's Centre Kingston, bringing some remarkable authors to Kingston-upon-Thames and celebrating the staff and engaging the students who make the University a genuinely energetic, exciting and multifaceted institution. Moreover, beyond that, which is the centre's fundamental remit, the events and projects we created really aimed to level distinctions between those local to the University and those within the institution, at whatever level. The thematic and often explorative, and innovative, nature of the events meant that all those in attendance became collective communities, with the hierarchy of audience and speaker whittled down to its minimum. Over twelve events, nearly one hundred new readings and commissions and over 400 people in attendance, the Centre built on the decade long work of Kingston Writing School and moved into a new direction.
We began on Living with Tom McCarthy, Sara Upstone and more, with student poets launching new publications with Sampson Low, in the beautiful surroundings of Dorich House. A night of intellectual and complex ideas, one that showed the potential for the Centre to create a Salon type event, where students mix easily with professional writers and thinkers, who offer a picture of a path in literature and art.
on Dying was our first event at The Rose Theatre, a Kingston mainstay, with the great Iain Sinclair speaking alongside Andrew Teverson and more student poets sharing their work. Iain's eloquence and his many decades publishing offered the audiences, many travelling from places nearby but outside Kingston itself, a unique perspective on place and literature.
on Remembering saw three quite unforgettable talks from Nell Leyshon, Winsome Pinnock and John Stuart, with each complimenting the next in its difference and the barriers between who was staff, academic, writer, student, speaker clearly dissolving for a brilliant hour on the Kingston University campus in Penrhyn road.
on Travelling brought one of the UK's greatest ever travel writers, a man who somewhat established the genre, to speaking alongside Alison Baverstock and Albert Pellicer. Alexander Frater's generosity and warmth marked out another intimate night at the University.
on Hoping saw the Centre explore another of Kingston's unique venues, a Yacht club on the Thames with its 70s decor intact, as novelist Tony White presented his Holborn epitaph alongside Helen Palmer and Helen Julia Minors.
on Loving saw a return to the Rose theatre, with remarkable short fiction writer Eley Williams and on Forgetting featured a brilliant talk from one of the UK's finest translators and editors, Daniel Hahn.
Our annual exhibition at The Museum of Futures was a big success, with submission from established fine artists exhibited alongside some original student works. The theme of scribbling and scrawling, the focus on language art once more, led to another great opening night at the Futures,, themed on Making, packed, the windows fogged, with some new collaborations by students alongside talks by Diego Ferrari, Stella Duffy et al
English PEN Modern Literature Festival, running in it's third year, a tradition that asks British writers to celebrate writers currently supported by English PEN and at risk abroad, was a really powerful night in the rarefied setting of All Saints Church, nearly 1000 year old venue. www.theenemiesproject.com/englishpen
Poem Brut was a night of experimentation, a project that asks questions of what literature can be when one sees language differently, whether in the mind or on the page. It saw new performances from a group of poets and artists active across the UK. www.poembrut.com
The European Poetry Festival 2018 closed our busy year of events, the opening event of the festival being our closing. It saw poets from nearly a dozen countries, many visiting, many local, presenting their work in multiple languages. A highlight with French OULIPO poet Frederic Forte, giving his first ever reading in London www.europeanpoetryfestival.com