The Brunel Writer Prize 2017

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’. The winner of this year’s prize is Tom Hull for his review of Moonlight.


Image Credit: Daily Hive

How La La Land er Moonlight brought classic romance back to the silver screen this season

As Moonlight opens onto a shot of Mahershala Ali driving to the old-school soul soundtrack of Boris Gardiner’s Every N***** Is A Star, from the outset Barry Jenkins’ film tells us this story is by black people, for black people. Controversial it may be, but Moonlight brings to the mainstream screen for the first time an understated portrait of ordinary lives that are usually either a headline or a punchline. And yet I saw Moonlight (before it won Best Picture in a live mishap guaranteed to generate all the publicity a filmmaker could hope for) in an independent cinema with a small audience, mostly elderly. In the current global political climate, perhaps it’s unsurprising that a black queer coming-of-age narrative is the underdog that Odeon and its ilk weren’t banking on. The film only shines brighter for this: a masterful bildungsroman that doesn’t need to shove its message in our faces.

Based upon Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, it tells the story of troubled Chiron, growing up in Miami and falling in love with his best friend. The narrative splits into three parts, for the protagonist’s three nicknames: as a child ‘Little’, as a teenager ‘Chiron’, and ‘Black’ as an adult. The world is unflinchingly current, with contemporary slang throughout (so much so that in the screening I attended, subtitles were used, serving as a dry symbol of the gap between the world of the film and that audience). The story, however, is as classic as the Odyssey: young man faces troubles, has the help of a mentor (a deservedly Oscar-winning Ali), and finally must go it alone and accept himself. It’s a life story, and crucially a love story: childhood sweetheart Kevin is a constant, and though accepting his sexuality is Chiron’s core struggle, cheesy coming-out tropes are crucially avoided, and the romantic content is minimal yet touching.

Outside of its cultural significance, how does the film work? Visually, it’s a treat. In an industry full of washed-out grey films, Moonlight comes to life in striking colour; particularly in a scene where Little stands alone in a garden and is, simply and naturalistically, lit up in blue moonlight, not a word spoken. It’s this artistic cinematography, combining with Nicholas Britell’s haunting classical soundtrack, that frames a stripped-back screenplay that doesn’t have a word of dialogue more than it needs. Chiron says very little, but the dialogue doesn’t feel lacking. It’s a hearkening to a basic cinematic staple: show, don’t tell.

The cast is strong: the child actors are notable; Alex R. Hibbert a solemn and gentle little boy, and yet we fully believe that Trevante Rhodes’s swaggering, built adult Black is the same individual – particularly impressive considering the actors never met each other during filming. Although the narrative is male-driven, Janelle Monae makes much of her small role and Naomie Harris gives a career-peaking performance as Chiron’s addict mother, both tyrant and victim. André Holland is a good foil for Rhodes as Kevin, though his screentime is limited. Plot-wise, one fault is that at times the action is too minimal: without spoiling, the final chapter, ‘Black’, feels as though it stops short; we’re given no time to learn about the intervening years before the narrative abruptly resolves itself. The film is nearly two hours long, but would have benefited from filling some of its empty spaces.

Moonlight might be a hard sell for some, particularly the closed-minded, or those who’d accuse it of simply seeking brownie points with its subject matter. Certainly, much of the film is no picnic, but that’s what makes its quiet message of self-acceptance so important – and that it comes together as an artistic triumph certainly helps. The cinema window may have gone, but don’t pass up the Blu-Ray: Moonlight lives up to the hype.

Tom Hull 

picTom Hull is a writer, reader, and admirer of dogs. Born and raised in Oxford, he is mostly preoccupied with being petty on the internet whilst trying to finish his first novel. His prose and poetry have been published five times, most recently in The Teenagers Company. If you have a picture of a dog to send him, you can do so on Twitter.

Calling all budding designers: Book Cover Design Competition #Horror #SciFi #Fantasy

Book Cover Design Competition
Horror, Sci-fi & Fantasy

Brunel University London’s English & Creative Writing department is developing its first ever Horror, Science-fiction & Fantasy anthology entitled:


The anthology features a range of English & Creative Writing students’ short stories and non-fiction writing and launches on the 21st of March 2017.

The competition for the cover design is open to all Brunel University London Undergraduate students and as well as seeing your design used on all copies of the book (paperback & ebook) you can win 10 paperback copies of the book. Plus if you’re an aspiring graphic designer it’s a great addition to your CV.

The anthology includes three distinct genres –
Science fiction
– as the title suggests. So 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 back-up copies of your working files so if you win they can be easily edited.

Entries must be submitted by:
Friday 3rd of February
by 5pm

to Mr Frazer Lee via email (
AND in hard copy form in an addressed envelope handed in at the Gaskell Building reception.

Good luck & happy designing!




Creative Writing at Brunel presents some of Britain’s most exciting writers


All events take place at Brunel Library and are hosted by Bernardine Evaristo, Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel. Writers include Roger Robinson & Nick Makoha; Sarah Howe & Mona Arshi; Joelle Taylor; Matthew De Abaitua; Max Kinnings & Frazer Lee; and Wendy Jones.

To view the poster that includes all dates, times and further details, please follow the link below:



Don’t miss: Hillingdon Literary Festival

image002When: 7th-9th October 2016

Where: Antonin Artaud Building, Brunel University

What: A FREE weekend of literary performances from over twenty-five bestselling and globally renowned authors with a lively festival atmosphere.

The festival will be home to  vibrant conversations, inspiring readings, book signings, masterclasses and workshops. Some of the author highlights this year include:

Amit Chaudhuri – Celebrated novelist, critic and musician, author of Oysseus Abroad

Samantha Shannon – Internationally bestselling author of The Bone Season series.

Will Self – Professor of Contemporary Thought at Brunel University London; journalist, political commentator, literary critic; author.

Ken Livingstone – Prominent Labour Party member, former Mayor of London, author of Being Red: A Politics for the Future.

Benjamin Zephaniah –World-renowned performance poet, activist and commentator; Professor in Creative Writing at Brunel University London.

Matt Haig – British novelist. His book Reasons to Stay Alive, a memoir about the author’s experience with depression, has been chosen as a World Book Night 2016 book.

Shappi Khorsandi – Author and comedian who has appeared on Channel 4’s Comedy Gala and Sport Relief. Her debut novel is Nina is Not Ok.

This year’s Hillingdon Literary festival also features its first communitysam_1204-768x576 writing competition, with shortlisted entries published in an anthology ‘Writing Local|Thinking Global‘ and an overall winner of £250 to be announced at the event. Several of our Brunel Creative Writers are on the list so come along to support them and read their work!

All events are free, but “Weekend Ticket” reservation via the website is strongly recommended, as tickets are selling out quickly! 

More info & tickets @

Hillingdon Literary Festival Creative Writing Competition

image002.jpgThe second Hillingdon Literary Festival is running a creative writing competition based on the theme, Writing Local / Thinking Global. The entries will be judged by a panel, including Benjamin Zephaniah, Philip Tew, Suzi Feay and Courttia Newland. The shortlisted works will be published in an anthology of the same name and available at the Hillingdon Literary Festival for free. The winner will receive a £250 prize too.

The word limit is 2,500. Submissions must be received by 15th August 2016. Please email:

For more information regarding the competition and for details of the festival itself, please go to: Over the course of the weekend, there will be over 28 acclaimed authors and poets who will be reading and discussing their work. All sessions are free and there will also be food and drink available at the Duckpond Market along with books to buy, signings, live music – and sunshine guaranteed!