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The Best Places in Nottingham for Fans of Reading, Writing and Poetry

19 September 21 words: Jamie Morris and James Kramer

If words are your thing, our city is the place to be. Back in 2015, Nottingham was given permanent status as a UNESCO City of Literature, on account of our literary heritage, as well as our commitment to encouraging emerging writers.

Full to the brim with places to go and things to do, Nottingham is built for the bookish, laid out for the lyrical, and pruned for the poetic. Here, we’ve bashed out a guide to get you started on the road to the literary community in all its scribbled glory…

Nottingham Writers’ Studio

Since 2006, the Nottingham Writers’ Studio has been incubating a fruitful crop of literary figures. It supports both existing authors and those newly developing. With impressive alumni who have Man Booker shortlists and Dublin IMPAC awards under their belts, there are few better places to grab yourself a membership for.

Local Bookshops

Nestled behind Primark and down a little alley opposite a defunct bookie, you’ll find Five Leaves Bookshop, a proper hidden gem that won Independent Bookshop of 2018 at the Nibbies. And, just a short walk around the corner, there’s the charming Ideas on Paper tucked into Cobden Chambers, offering the best of independent magazines, journals, books and stationery.

Writing East Midlands

Few get involved in reaching out to young, emerging writers quite like Writing East Midlands. Involved in too many supportive projects to mention, they run writing seminars and courses, offer mentorship and critical aid, and even provide one-to-one guidance – they’re just that supportive.

Black Writers & Artists Network

Continuing the rich literary tradition of the African Caribbean community in the city is the Black Writers & Artists Network. Run by Nottingham Black Archive, and headed by Panya Banjoko, the collective is a growing haven for creative writers of African-Caribbean descent to write, share ideas, curate events and perform.

Nottingham City Libraries

Nottingham City Libraries have reading groups with specific focuses such as crime fiction to mental health, Bengali Literature to Urdu poetry. There are also ties with local writing groups, with the likes of the DIY Poets and the Nottingham Poetry Society getting stuck in.

Nottingham Women’s Centre library

Women’s libraries are in scarce supply across the country, and the Nottingham Women’s Centre Library on Chaucer Street is the only one of its kind in the East Midlands. It still holds most of the original books and magazines which were donated in the seventies and eighties when the library was first set up.

DIY Poets

If you’re just starting out in the poetry world, DIY Poets will provide you with plenty of support with both writing and performing. For over ten years, they’ve been passionate about helping poets feel confident performing their work in public, and letting the public know that poetry can be exciting and relevant.

City of Literature

City of Literature itself is well worth getting involved with. They have a lot on offer for students now, including opportunities to submit their writing and get it published, and a literary calendar with all upcoming local events on their website. In May every year dozens of venues across the city usually play host to Nottingham Poetry Festival.

University Societies

If you're a student and you want to do a bit of networking with fellow writers at your uni, look no further than their students' unions’ writing societies. Each one has clubs for people interested in both poetry and creative writing, as well as opportunities to contribute towards student magazines like Platform and Impact.

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