Calling All Poets!

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Bear with a Sore Head is now recruiting a select number of people to write, perform and record a one minute poem about what childhood reading meant to you. If chosen, your video will be published on our social media, and used to advertise our website, plus it’s an excellent CV booster! For more details please get in contact via email: bearwithasorehead.dyslexia@gmail.com or over the Bear with a Sore Head social media pages: BWASH Facebook BWASH Twitter

We’re very excited to see the kind of work that only talented writers like YOU can create.
(Topics can include: how reading shaped you, what books meant to you, what effect reading had on your childhood etc).

Alternative Comedy Now Conference

AlternativeNowConference

2nd-3rd May 2019, University of Kent, UK

Organised by the Popular & Comic Performance Research Centre (PCP) and the Centre for Comedy Studies Research (CCSR)

On 19 May 1979, the Comedy Store opened in Soho, London and precipitated the alternative comedy movement, which would revolutionise the style, subject matter and politics of British stand-up. The current UK comedy industry, from the smallest DIY comedy club to the arena tour, can arguably trace its origins back to the alternative comedy movement of the 1980s.

Organised by the Popular & Comic Performance Research Centre (PCP) at the University of Kent and the Centre for Comedy Studies Research (CCSR) at Brunel University London, Alternative Comedy Now will be an international interdisciplinary conference taking stock of this crucial cultural movement, forty years on from its inception. In addition to academic papers, the conference will feature involvement from some of the key figures in alternative comedy, a festival of alternative comedy performance, and an exhibition of early alternative comedy material from the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive.

We invite proposals for papers exploring such issues as: precursors and influences; the Comedy Store; the Comic Strip; Alternative Cabaret; the effects of alternative comedy on material and/or performance style; the politics of alternative comedy; the comedy club; individual alternative comedians; the cabaret elements e.g. ranting/dub poets, street performers, etc.; the American alternative comedy scene e.g. UnCabaret, Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, etc.; alternative comedy in the provinces; alternative comedy on TV; the legacy of alternative comedy; etc.

We would also welcome non-standard presentations (e.g. performance papers, workshops, etc.).

Please send a 300-word proposal and a short 100-word bionote to Oliver Double (o.j.double@kent.ac.uk) and Sharon Lockyer (Sharon.Lockyer@brunel.ac.uk) by 28th September 2018.

The Brunel Writer Prize 2018

The Brunel Writer Prize is awarded to the student who achieves the highest graded non-fiction article submission for the Creative Industries module on Brunel University’s Creative Writing programme. The piece of non-fiction should be ‘fresh, original, compelling and well balanced’. This year’s prize is shared between two students: Adam Johnson and Fleur Rollet-Manus. Adam’s piece tells of the video game, Overwatch, and its online community’s refusal to embrace the progressive vision of its creator. Fleur’s article debunks the Hollywood myth of the magazine industry via her personal experience of securing a position with Suitcase Magazine.

Overwatch

Overwatch: The game that brought the world together (And tore it apart)

Hello, I am a video game nerd. It’s okay, I am comfortable in my albeit pasty skin. Every video game nerd has a weapon of choice, a game they hold in high esteem above all others, and mine is Overwatch. This game was first conceived when Blizzard executive Geoff Kaplan dared to ask the question, ‘what would happen if first person shooter Call of Duty and Disney Pixar Studios went on a blind date, and that date went really well, and it led to a wholesome marriage and inevitably, a beautiful video game birth child?’ Well Geoff, Overwatch happens, and it’s pretty good.

This is an online video game: players are split into two teams of six and battle against one another for an objective, like King of the Hill, for example. It boasts beautiful landscapes, set in a utopian future, and has a roster of twenty-seven characters for players to choose from. There’s an equal number of male and female characters and not all the females are sexualised (this is a rarity in the video game world, so good job Geoff, I guess) but, above all else, what makes this game so special is its diversity. It celebrates so many cultures. For example, there’s this guy from Brazil who’s a successful DJ, he’s called Lucio. Then there’s Diva, a South Korean professional gamer, and there’s Angela, a medic from Switzerland, and she’s going out with a cyborg Japanese ninja called Genji but they can’t meet and have to send forbidden love letters because he’s training in the Tibetan mountains with a robotic monk who is a badass. See? It sounds awesome. It’s wonderfully progressive, there are so many indiscriminate characters and they are all working together for a common cause. So, according to Overwatch the future couldn’t be brighter. According to Overwatch race relations surpass even Martin Luther King’s wildest dreams.

But there is a problem and it’s a big one. To reiterate, Overwatch is an online game. This means that real people are playing the game. Real people are asked to work together, as a team, with people they’ve never met before. Now, it’s all well and good that the characters in the video game are so tolerant of one another, but real people…that’s a whole other story.

Foolish Geoff Kaplan. Much like Dr. King before him, Geoff too, had a dream. This dream was simple. He sought to unite pasty nerds across the globe in a first-person team-based experience. They would greet random strangers online with open arms and together, they would achieve ultimate victory, much like the beloved characters they play as. Overwatch would set a shining example of what the world could be, if discrimination was but a bitter memory. This was Geoff Kaplan’s extraordinary dream.

But Geoff, oh foolish, delusional Geoff. Human beings are terrible, mate. I believe it was Edelman that once said:

‘Man is evil. By nature, man is a beast.’

Of course, Marek Edelman was talking about Warsaw, but I think the point more accurately describes the Overwatch online community. They are just awful. Since playing Overwatch, I have experienced racism a total of fifty-two times and I am white. My sexuality is constantly inferred. I am encouraged to kill myself on a regular basis. The list goes on. I won’t bore you with the details. But it’s bitter irony that a game that celebrates tolerance and diversity couldn’t have a more toxic community.

Poor unfortunate Mr Kaplan. All he wanted was for people to make friends. But a horde of angry nerds across the globe that make up the Overwatch community, have taken Geoff Kaplan’s beautiful dream in their sweaty hands and smashed it into a million tiny pieces.

Way to go humanity.

You suck.

Adam Johnson PicAdam Johnson is a writer, actor and shameless gamer. Hailing from Kent, his proudest achievement is co-writing the musical Super Hero which had a mini pop-up tour around the country with the National Youth Music Theatre. He is soon to perform at the Camden Fringe, and finally, he is better than 51% of all players on Overwatch (he insisted we include this).

 


 

miranda-devil-wears-prada

The Devil No Longer Wears Prada

It’s about time we debunked the myth that the magazine industry is full of angry, designer-clad, triple-shot-half-soy-half-milk-from-mars-extra-hot coffee wielding Miranda Priestly clones. Whilst lifestyle journalism does bring with it the same glitz and glamour displayed in the hit movie and best-selling novel that thinly veils the life behind the glossy pages of Vogue, the stereotypes that suggest the industry is full of girls that survive solely off diet coke and lettuce leaves under a fearful, but perfectly-groomed dictator are both inaccurate and damaging.

Last year through the power of social media, I landed an interview at SUITCASE Magazine, the publication I’d been fangirling over ever since I’d been (unfairly) sacked from playing Farmer Fleur on an Australia banana farm – truly a story for another day. After much to-ing and fro-ing (the then Deputy Editor had commitments in Palm Springs, Havana, Nice) a date and the location was set. I arrived at the swanky, marble-topped bar of Soho House’s member-only Dean Street Townhouse early, by an hour. Unsurprisingly, I had yet to be in a financial position to shell out for a House membership therefore was denied entry and asked to leave until the Deputy Editor (who naturally was a member) arrived. Was this the first sign that I wasn’t elite enough to be writing for the cool kids? Was my tube-creased Zara shirt evidence that I wouldn’t cut it against the clean lines of Valentino’s latest capsule collection? Apparently not, I started the next day.

Having religiously poured over the pastel, perfectly symmetrical, witty pages of every published edition, I expected the SUITCASE offices to be filled with clean, minimalist lines and equally intimidating staff writers. The kind that you long to ask where their boots are from, but already know they’ll reply ‘they’re vintage, duh’. For the second time in as many days my stereotypes were being torn at the seams. Instead, I was met with a sea of articulate, bright and funny individuals who were keen to welcome any new talent – intern status or not.

I’d brushed up on my tea-making skills the night before and had practiced my telephone manner, only to quickly find this to be a waste of time. Making tea and screening phone calls were at the bottom of the agenda and instead within the first hour I was set numerous writing and research tasks. As the weeks went on and my writing went from strength to strength having mastered the SUITCASE voice, my portfolio grew and the contacts I was building within the industry would soon provide me the stepping-stones in which to launch a freelance career. A far cry from juggling multiple Starbucks cups that the film predicted.

The Devil Wears Prada Fashion Editor Nigel sarcastically retorts ‘Yes, because that’s really what this whole multibillion-dollar industry is all about, isn’t it? Inner beauty.’ Well, in fact at SUITCASE it is. Celebrating life through the culture of travel lies at the crux of the publication ensuring that the women, and men, featured have a desire to initiate change through their creative skill set. Perhaps this is why independent publications such as SUITCASE provide invaluable industry experience to hard-working and driven individuals who are eager to absorb the publication’s unique ethos.

One thing that The Devil Wears Prada does correctly reiterate is that a million girls would kill for this job. Yet it brings into question whether it’s just the lure of jet-setting and frequent Heathrow Terminal 5 departures that pulls them in? Remembering the reason why we pursue a creative career has to remain at the forefront of our motivation, as without this we will turn into a bickering clack of airheads and lose the strong, empowering voice that the industry can, and does, possess.

In the words of Miranda Priestley – that’s all.

fleurolletmanus-profileFleur Rollet-Manus can often be found racking up air miles, sitting on an oversize suitcase wrestling with an already strained zip or clutching an extra large coffee while penning her latest travel disaster. She’s currently the Contributing Editor for SUITCASE Magazine and has just landed her first junior editor role at Food and Travel.

Live Event: Three Contemporary Poets

Next week three of Britain’s most innovative poets will be at Brunel giving readings. This free event will be hosted on March 10th in Lecture Room 267 at 3pm and is open to all students!

Check out the flyer below for information on all the poets attending and Tweet us @Brunelwriter with any questions.

See you there!

Poetry flyer

 

Calling all budding designers: Cover Design Competition

The Creative Writing department are currently beginning the exciting process of developing this years anthology ‘The Imagination Project’ which features a range of second and third year students’ stories. The anthology launches on the 15th of March 2016.

The competition for the cover design is open to all Undergraduate students and as well as seeing your design used on all copies of the book, you can win a £50 Amazon voucher and 10 copies of the book. Plus if you’re an aspiring graphic designer it’s a great addition to your CV.

The anthology includes a diverse range of work so, as the title suggests, let your imagination run wild!

The design needs to be:

  • High-resolution, 300 dpi .tif/.jpg format OR vector eps format.
  • Size: A5 (148x210mm) plus a spine on the left (17x210mm).
  • Please keep a copy of your working files so if you win they can be easily edited

And must be submitted by Monday 15th of February at 5pm to Dr Bernadine Evaristo via email (Bernardine.Evaristo@brunel.ac.uk) AND in hard copy form in an addressed envelope handed in at the Gaskell reception.

For further information on what your submission must include please check out the link: http://www.brunel.ac.uk/cbass/arts-humanities/creative-writing/creative-writing-anthology-competition/_nocache

Good luck & happy designing!

Guest Blogger – EMMA FILTNESS!: ‘Keeping it Local’ – Event

Hello fellow writers,

I am a Creative Writing PhD student, a part-time lecturer in English and Creative Writing, and Brunel’s Publications Officer. I came here originally to do the Creative Writing MA and loved every minute of it, so I stuck around for more.

It is shaping up to be a busy but fun start to the 2014 academic year, and I am here to tell you about some great community Creative Writing and Arts events that are happening at Brunel and in the surrounding area over the next month or so, with the hope that some of you might come along and maybe even take part! I have been working quite a bit lately with the wonderful Charlotte who is Arts Programming Officer for the local borough (Hillingdon), and she is keen to get Brunelians involved…but let’s start with me, me ME!

1. As well as teaching some of you for modules such as Introduction to Writing Fiction and Drama, I run a weekly Creative Writing class at Brunel’s Arts Centre. Classes consist of themed writing exercises, prompts and related activities suitable for all levels of experience. Classes are open to all Brunel students, staff and members of the local community. If you are an arts student at Brunel, you can come to the class for free (yes, FREE!). You may want to sign up soon, though, as places are limited (classes begin Tuesday 30 October, 6pm). These classes are ideal if you want somewhere to try out ideas and have the space to write without the pressure of looming deadlines and grades. I make a little anthology of work produced on the course each academic year, so these classes also give you the opportunity to see your work in print (I will even furnish you with a spare copy so you can give one to your mum). View the Arts Centre web pages to find out more, or email me (contact details below).

ArtsCentreAnthology

2. Charlotte is running Bigfest, a one-day festival in Uxbridge town centre on Sunday 28 September, 2014. There will be music, theatre, street performers, a food market and, most importantly, a live literature tent! Brunel writers and locals will be reading poetry or prose between 12 and 4pm. I will be reading a short story from my thesis (stories based on the life stories of little old ladies), Joe Norman who is an English PhD student, lecturer and Brunel’s Communications Officer will be reading a short story (once he manages to find one of his that is suitable to be heard by delicate, innocent ears and does not make people want to be sick) and Brunel Creative Writing MA alumna and local journalist Barbara Fischer will read to you from the memoir she is currently working on in which she recalls her time as a “hack”. Come along and listen (again, it is FREE!) or, if you are feeling brave, why not sign up to read a story or poem? If you would like to give this a go then email me soon so we can reserve you a slot (contact details below)

Bigfest2014

3. Charlotte has also set up an open mic evening at the newly-refurbished Uxbridge Library. The open mic sessions will run every other month or so, with the first one taking place on Friday 3 October at 7.30pm. You don’t need to book, just turn up, pay the teeny tiny £3.50 entry fee (it is free if you sign up to read/sing/strum), and listen to poetry, prose and other acoustic offerings from local writers and musicians. Again, if you are feeling brave and fancy reading, strumming or singing, then let me know and I will make sure there is a slot with your name on it. There will be some empty slots left for those of you that prefer just to rock up on the day and see how you feel…

Open Mic Poster

I should probably stop there before I wear out your eyeballs…if you want to know more about any of the above then please send me an email at E.Filtness@brunel.ac.uk

Please also keep an eye on the Brunel Library blog for information on the Brunel Author Series…thanks for “listening” and I hope to see some of you at one, some or all of these awesome local events!

Happy scribbling,

Emma

‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.’

While I have to agree with Benjamin Franklin for the most part, I did start wondering the other day about planning our creative work, and whether we were really setting ourselves up for failure when we just run with an idea without really thinking about where it’s going.

I’ve always loved writing, and until I started my dissertation I didn’t really plan what was going to happen. Sometimes I’d hit a bit of a wall or have some discrepancies in the story, but for the most part, I’d love being surprised by the twists and turns that happened along the way – sometimes it was even as if I was reading the story for the first time. That kind of writing is great because it’s fun and based on reactions, and let’s be honest, sometimes doing something without any real structure is really freeing, and can really lift your writer’s block.

However not planning what direction you’re going in can be really detrimental to your writing. If you have no guidelines, how do you know where to go next? I found this as I got further into my degree. I realised I didn’t have writer’s block just because it happens, I realised I had writer’s block because I didn’t consider which direction I was going to take in the long run.

I don’t think I would have done as well at university if it hadn’t been for the screen writing module I did in second year. The level of planning that goes into writing a screenplay was something completely alien to me at first, but I slowly accepted the fact that I needed to adopt at least some level of structure (and the planning documents contributed to my final grade…)

Once I learned to plan, my work was completed faster and to a much higher standard, and while I still enjoy the freedom of not planning, I can’t actually do it any more. Even something as simple as a blog post, which used to be like stream of consciousness when I’d write on emphaticpanda.blogspot.com, has become a process which begins with a title, followed by in-depth bullet points before I finally open a ‘new post’ tab and actually write down what I’m thinking.

I found a happy medium between planning and having the freedom to be surprised by what I’m writing however. I think it was one of my tutors who suggested we wrote the key events of our narrative on post-it notes and stuck them to the wall, then we knew what would happen, but if we got bored of the storyline we could move around some of the key events to shake things up. Planned freedom. A strange oxymoron.

What do you think? How meticulously do you plan your narratives? Get in touch in the comments, or tweet us at @BrunerlWriter