In the early noughties, Nottingham was declared a ‘crap town’ and was renamed Shottingham in the press after a couple of shootings. LeftLion was created partly to address these issues, and to point out that there was good stuff going on as well. I got involved pretty early on, and have been the Literature Editor ever since.
During this period, Nottingham’s literary scene has helped transform the city. We have a writer’s studio with over 200 members down in Hockley; have seen the first city wide literature festival in forty years; an annual poetry festival, thanks to Henry Normal; and we’ve become a UNESCO City of Literature. When bookshops dropped below 1000, Ross Bradshaw opened up Five Leaves Bookshop.
There’s plenty more to get excited about, but now that excitement needs to come from someone a bit younger. So, I’m handing over the reins to Liam Mills. Please pester the shit out of him and invite him to your events. He’s hungry to learn. There is no better way to navigate the city than through the minds of people. When I walk through Nottingham I hear their poetry, see their stories, and smell the sweat from their rebellions.
I’m leaving LeftLion because of Jermaine Jenus. On 6 April he did a documentary on the BBC about the increase in knife crime in Nottingham. It would have been a lot better (and less damaging) if it had been a documentary about Jermaine Jenus going around stabbing people. But there you go. The more things change, the more they stay the same. I can’t be arsed to fight anymore. I’m going home to my garden to read in peace. Liam, get shouting. Your city needs you. James Walker