Our Arts Week Hubbub took place last Monday, 20 May and the basement of the Harrison was packed as usual. As a pleasant change, it wasn’t raining.
Five readers from Birkbeck’s Creative Writing courses read an eclectic mix of poetry, memoir, stories and excerpts from longer fiction. They were joined by special guests, Elizabeth Fremantle and Christie Watson.
Full-time MA Creative Writing student, Martyn Bryant, started the evening off with 'Clayoquot Sound', a moving yet restrained story of love, loss and killer whales set on the Pacific Coast of Vancouver Island.
Hubbub regular and runner-up in the 2012 Keats-Shelley Poetry Prize, Tarquin Landseer, followed with his playful and lyrical meditation on ‘Bees’. Tarquin is in the third year of the BA Creative Writing.
Nydia Hetherington, a second year BA Creative Writing student read an excerpt, containing elements of fairy tale and magical realism, from the prologue of her novel, The Funambulist, a work in progress.
By contrast, Gilli Fryzer, read what she called “fragments of memory … stitched together” which became a poetic memoir called ‘Hiraeth’, a Welsh word meaning an intense nostalgia felt for the lost places of the past. Gilli has transferred from the MA in Children’s Literature to the MA in Creative Writing.
Ian McNab rounded off the first half of the evening with his acerbic and dark story 'PR Advice' in which a bit-part actor is embedded with a death squad by his agent in order to raise his profile. Needless to say it all goes horribly wrong. Ian is a student on the MA Creative Writing Course and is also a member of the editorial team for the Mechanics’ Institute Review 10.
After the break, Elizabeth Fremantle, herself an alumnus of the very first year of the MA Creative Writing at Birkbeck, read from her first novel, Queen’s Gambit, a fascinating fictionalisation of the life of Katherine Parr, last of Henry the Eighth’s wives. Known as ‘the one who survived’, she was an astute political player as well as one of the first women to publish her own work in the English language. Queen’s Gambit will be the first book in a Tudor Trilogy.
Our final guest of the evening was Christie Watson who did her MA in Creative Writing at UEA and has taught at Birkbeck. Her novel Tiny Sunbirds Far Away won the Costa First Novel Award but on Monday we were treated to an exclusive preview of the first chapter of her forthcoming novel, Where Women Are Kings which will be published in August.
All in all, a most enjoyable evening. Click on each reader's name to listen to the readings here on Writers' Hub.
The next Hubbub will take place on Monday 8 July and will feature special guests Dave McGowan - co-founder of Poltroon Literary Saloon, photographer, DJ, occasional lyricist, and author of the ‘Putting it Away’ stories available on Writers’ Hub, and Courttia Newland - screenwriter, playwright, creative writing tutor, literary activist and author of several novels, the most recent being The Gospel According to Cane.