On 12 July 2014 around 400 people sat down in front of the Brian Clough statue and had a good old read. The event was organised by myself (Dawn of the Unread) and friends and was a very simple thank you to all of the authors who’ve brought us joy over the years. The silent protest was also to raise awareness of the importance of bookshops and libraries, both of which have taken a hammering over the last couple of years, and to raise awareness of alarming literacy statistics in the UK.
One year on and a consortium of local businesses and organisations have come together to form the City of Literature team with the primary aim of using literature as an educational tool. In just under nine months the team have put together a bid to be accredited as part of the UNESCO Creative Cities network. Last week the bid was officially endorsed by the UK National Commission for UNESCO which means it can now be officially submitted. The results will be announced on 11 December 2015.
Councillor Jackie Morris, Nottingham’s Lord Mayor, wrote a letter of support to accompany the bid, which starts:
“Nottingham is a City of Literature in the widest sense, encompassing forms from playwriting to poetry slams, songwriting and storytelling to comic books and creating scenarios for video games. The last 25 years have seen an explosion of great novels, poetry, plays, spoken word and screenplays from our writers. We see literature, culture and creativity as the driving force behind the transformation of our city in the next twenty years to become a thriving international city. We want to use literature and associated literary activities to inspire the people who live in the city, as well as those who work here and visit. Partners from the public and private sectors, further and higher education, and the cultural sector in the city have come together to develop the vision, strategy and delivery plan for this bid. Our vision for Nottingham as a City of Literature is: One City, Many Voices.”
The City of Literature partnership has plans for many events across the city, starting this Friday with the launch of These Seven: a fascinating collection of seven short stories from contemporary Nottingham writers, including a rare Alan Sillitoe story.
At 6.30pm a flashmob of readers will descend on Nottingham’s Old Market Square to read a copy of These Seven, or a book by any of the contributors: Brick (John Stuart Clark), Shreya Sen Handley, Paula Rawsthorne , Alison Moore, Alan Sillitoe, Megan Taylor and John Harvey. Copies of the book can be purchased from the Five Leaves bookshop, which, incidentally, is the only independent bookshop to have opened this century. There will be an additional 2,500 copies of the book given out for free over the coming months. The event will be followed by the official launch of the book which will take place in the Council House.
The collection was published as part of Big City Read, a national initiative where a city chooses one book, and residents are encouraged to read it together through a variety of events. This will include author readings and writing workshops in schools, prisons, reading groups, community centres, libraries and a wide range of other venues. People will be able to share their stories on the project’s website, submitting their own take on life in the NG.
John Harvey, one of These Seven writers, and also one of the patrons of Nottingham City of Literature, said:
"Any way of getting good writing, good stories into the hands of new readers has to be a good thing, surely? And the Big City Read should do exactly that. And not simply good stories, but stories, by and large, about the city, written by people who live, or have lived there and who know it differently but know it well."
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