Word of Mouth

16 May 11 words: Robin Vaughan-Williams
This innovative spoken word event includes a live skype link-up with writers across the globe.
"Of course, internet technology doesn’t always work, and in a way we were hoping there might be a few glitches, like digital artefacts dribbling down the screen."

We’ve all heard about six degrees of separation, the idea that there are no more than six ‘friends of friends’ connecting each of us to everyone else on the planet. On 19 May Nottingham Writers’ Studio is putting on Word of Mouth, a night that asks, ‘just how connected are we?’ Six writers, on stage in Nottingham, will be joined by six writers from around the world on Skype in a celebration of the writers’ web.

All the writers appearing on Skype are connected with writers in Nottingham somehow. Sue Dymoke, a poet whose publications include an anthology on poetry and sport, spent three months in New Zealand recently, where she met Kelly Malone, who will be beamed in from Auckland. Eve Makis, a novelist of Greek origin, got in touch with Nora Nadjarian, a writer of Armenian origin who’ll calling from Cyprus. And I met Eirikur Norddahl, an Icelandic poet now living in Finland, when I was living in Reykjavik a couple of years ago.

The night is hosted by award-winning novelist Nicola Monaghan (The Killing Jar), and I’ll be manning the Skype station on the night. I developed the idea out of an event I put on in Sheffield in 2008 called Life 2.0, which brought together writers and performers exploring words and technology. It included innovative features like an improvised poetry soundscape and a viral text poem, and Skypelove, a series of poems about love and the internet, which were interwoven with telephonic appearances from poets in Montana, Reykjavik, and a Chinese poet in London.

Of course, internet technology doesn’t always work, and in a way we were hoping there might be a few glitches, like digital artefacts dribbling down the screen. In the event, one of the Skypers couldn’t work out how to turn his webcam on, and I succeeded in cutting off another when I pressed the wrong button while trying to switch to full screen, and had to redial. But instead of disasters, these made the event all the more authentic, as it felt true to most people’s actual experience of using the internet. Antenna, the venue for Word of Mouth, is giving us some excellent technical support, so I expect things will run a bit more smoothly this time, but you can never tell!

Word of Mouth is a quarterly live literature event run by Nottingham Writers’ Studio, and recently we’ve been experimenting with it, trying out themes, bringing in guest writers, looking for innovative ideas to try out, and so on. We want it to be very much about, and driven by, writers in Nottingham, to give them a platform for their work, but at the same time we’d like to bring in writers from elsewhere doing something that audiences might not have seen before. In the future, we’re hoping to get scriptwriters involved more, maybe using the Skype technology to relay a live screenplay from someone’s kitchen, for example—real kitchen sink drama! So if you’d like to keep up with future Word of Mouth events, keep an eye on the NWS website or join our mailing list 

Word of Mouth: Nottingham and the World
Thursday 19 May, 7pm start. FREE
Antenna cafe-restaurant, 9a Beck Street, NG1 1EQ

Antenna will also be hosting a Saturday Night, Sunday Morning special on 3 June at 7pm, with Nicola Monaghan, David Sillitoe and music from Blue Yonder. This is £5 waged and £3 low waged. All proceeds on the door go towards the Alan Sillitoe Statue Fund.

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