Representation is a bit of a buzz-word at the moment, so it's refreshing to see it done right. Nottingham-based poet and event organiser Hayley Green is the spearhead for the Write Pride Festival, a five-day event that celebrates some of Nottingham's best and brightest LGBTQIA creatives. We had a chat with her ahead of the festival to chat about the coming week.
First up, could you tell us a bit about the WritePride Festival?
Write Pride is a 5 day event celebrating LGBT writing Talent taking place from 23rd-27th July 2018. Each day will focus on a different writing form and will include a 3 hour masterclass with an experienced writer followed by an evening event. Here's what we've got planned for the week:
Monday 23rd July – Prose Pride with Rosie Garland
Tuesday 24th July – Film Pride with Rob Young
Wednesday 25th July – Lyric Pride with Rob Green
Thursday 26th July – Poetry Pride with Caroline Bird
Friday 27th July – Theatre Pride with Rikki Beadle-Blair
What initially inspired you to organise the festival?
I’ve been running projects and events for several years, mostly based around mental health. Having had my own experience with mental health difficulties, I wanted to create events that would give those involved the support that I longed for when I was younger. I found that support through creative writing, hence the writing link.
After focusing mainly in this area I felt I had neglected a huge part of my personality and a community that is not only close to my heart but also a community that is highly affected by mental health.
I have also been a spectator of Notitngham Pride for many years and have seen a lot of areas be celebrated – music and performance is always a big part of Pride but to me it always felt as though we were segregated to one street in Nottingham and nobody knew what was going on. I wanted to create something that would hopefully involve more venues across Nottingham but also celebrate a wider breadth of talent within the LGBT community that doesn’t often get brought into the limelight.
What were you hoping to achieve by organising the event?
My main aim is to provide the LGBT community with a wider choice of events to get involved in. I want all of the LGBT community to be celebrated and we have so much talent that I see at other writing events, I wanted to give that talent a platform, not just as writers or performers, but as LGBT writers and performers.
I also hope to bring more visibility to the LGBT community we have in Nottingham and involve more venues across the city that are highly influential in Nottingham.
And fun: I’d like to have some fun with the events we’ve planned.
You yourself are an LGBTQIA writer and creative. Do you think that has had a big influence on your creative output and process?
No, not up until now. There are many different parts of someone’s personality, and I think creativity can help you discover and understand them.
Whilst I have written and performed work about my experiences as a lesbian, it has never been the focus.
My creative processes so far have been mainly routed in mental health and understanding the difficulties and experiences I have had in my life – sometimes this has led me to write about being LGBT and difficulties with body image.
These have never been celebratory though, this is what I want to explore now and I am hoping this festival will be the start of me building and getting to know a community I have only been a part of by default.
I want to celebrate my lesbianism and help others to do the same. That begins with Write Pride.
Is the plan to have WritePride as an annual event? What are the next steps for the project?
Yes, the plan is for Write Pride to be an annual event, how this will look in future I am not sure as I personally am moving away from Nottingham.
I want to discuss this with the participants and build a team that can continue and grow the event with the community’s needs at heart.
Who are the people you've approached to perform at the festival, and why did you choose them in particular?
We have some incredible artists taking part in the festival, some that I have known through previous projects, some that have been recommended and some that have approached us to take part.
Rosie Garland is a prose writer and poet from Manchester. I have had the privilege of performing alongside Rosie at several events and am always impressed by her sense of being. This is a strength I appreciate greatly and know our participants will benefit from her knowledge, talent and honesty.
Rob Young is a tremendous writer, he applied for the festival through a call out for a theatre writer but after reading about his work I decided he would be perfect for our film day. Rob is a fantastic LGBT ally and has done amazing work for our community through his creative activities. I wanted a mix of writers who approach LGBT writing in a variety of ways and I believe that he will bring something very powerful to the project.
Rob Green is a well known singer-songwriter from Nottingham. I have admired his work and seen his career grow and see him as an inspirational talent. He is like us, he’s a Nottingham lad that has worked hard and seen his talent take him to amazing places, he is proof that success is reachable and I cannot wait to see/hear him in action.
Caroline Bird is honestly my favourite poet so asking her to be involved was a little selfish of me. I have had the honour of working with her previously and have always learned so much as a participant in her workshops and as an audience member. I couldn’t think of anyone better to lead our poetry day and I know our participants will come away feeling inspired and motivated with a newfound belief in themselves and their work. And if you just come to see her perform in our evening event, you are guaranteed to be left speechless.
Rikki Beadle-Blair was recommended to me by a fellow writer and I am so pleased he agreed to be a part of the project. He is a screenwriter and theatre writer and is an avid producer of events including establishing Black Pride. His work is important and inspirational. He has a lot to give to the world, and I am proud to bring him to share his talent with Nottingham.
Do you have any advice for our readers who may identify as LGBTQIA?
Be proud. The world needs to hear your voice.