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Metronome Sessions

Word of Mouth

14 September 08 words: Alyson Stoneman (James Walker)
Showcasing new writing and work-in-progress from the Nottingham Writers’ Studio

Nottingham is exploding with literary talent, if Word of Mouth is anything to go by. Organised by Nottingham Writers’ Studio, the event showcased new writing and work-in-progress from seven studio members. This was the second evening of readings held at the Len Maynard Suite in The Royal Centre this year. Writing is a solitary profession for the most part and writers tend to have less visibility among their peers than other practitioners in the arts. This event provided a rare opportunity for established authors, scriptwriters, journalists and poets to mingle supportively and for non-writers to gain a sneak-preview of some of the best new work coming out of Nottingham across a range of genres - and chat to the authors afterwards.

The evening kicked off with a tantalizing scene from Michael Pinchbeck’s new play for Nottingham Playhouse, The Ashes, read by Sylvia Robson from the Royal Company. This was followed by Wayne Burrow’s meditative poem, Stanzas from Thassos, while Richard Pilgrim’s comic tale about a hapless jogger, a stray mutt and its suspicious owner had the audience in stitches. Accelerator, a biting script from Alicja Shaw, explored domestic abuse from two different view-points (abuser and abused), while a hard-pressed editorial assistant turned his hand to literary forgery in David Belbin’s latest novel The Pretender.

One complimentary drink per entry ticket didn’t last long, but more on sale (readings are thirsty work) helped oil the conversational wheels during the interval. Studio member and author Clare Brown explained that even established writers with several books gracing the shelves at Waterstone’s are dependent on the whims of their publisher’s marketing department and the enthusiasm and support of their editor. Churning out 80,000 words of prime door-stop material is difficult enough in the first place - inflicting it on the rest of the world is a monumental achievement. However, the fact that Nottingham Writer’s Studio - which provides facilities such as wi-fi as well as support and social evenings for professional and near-professional writers - attracted 70 new members in less than two years proves there are plenty of people out there succeeding against the odds, or at least giving it a shot.

Wayne Burrows opened the second part of the evening with an excerpt from Shrapnel, depicting an unexplained flash of light in a knife-edge post 9/11 world where mundane daily life can alter in a second. Even the Dogs was read from a work-in-progress by John Macgregor (author of If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and So Many Ways to Begin), deftly dealing with leaps in time and vivid, fragmented, scenes of love, decay and death.

The night wrapped with an extract of a new play My Name is Stephen Luckwell, by popular Nottingham playwright Nick Wood, a sensitive but witty look at the world through the eyes of a student with learning difficulties and his reluctant tutor.

The variety of work on offer and the different voices, styles and themes of the writing made for an interesting evening. Word of Mouth gives a picture of the breadth and depth of creative literature being produced in the city and will hopefully help to keep Nottingham on the map as a hot bed of new writing talent.

The next Word of Mouth event will be held on Wednesday 3rd December at 7.30pm at The Len Maynard Suite, The Royal Concert Hall (Tickets £4 or £3 for NWS Members)

For more info, please see Nottingham Writers' Studio

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