After a distressingly long absence of more than three months, I have finally returned to fill the neglected pages of this blog with Random Lunacy once again.
I have to say, dear reader, it feels great to be back here crafting a new rambling for your reading pleasure, but before I get too ahead of myself allow me to fill you in on what I’ve been working on during my blogging hiatus.
As regular readers may recall in February this year myself and three other young writers started studying for a Gold Arts Award via Writing West Midlands; an 18 month course that allows up-and-coming creators to learn about and experiment in new areas of the arts as well as gaining practical experience in their chosen medium by working with industry professionals.
For the second Unit of our course my three fellow students and I were given the opportunity to work alongside the team at Writing West Midlands to organise and run our very own mini fest as part of the 2016 Birmingham Literature Festival. We were handed control of an entire day at this year’s festival and told to fill it with the best events our collective imaginations could concoct as long as we followed the first rule of event-organising, ‘Stick to your budget.’
So with our heads full of ideas and our notebooks overflowing with scribbled concepts, we went about constructing what would become the first ever Teen Takeover.
My personal role in the creation of this innovative mini fest was that of Teen Takeover Programmer, which in short means I’ve spent the last few months eloquently pestering a multitude of writers, poets and artists to come and be a part of our new literary extravaganza, as well as shooting back and forth to Brum for numerous creative meetings with lots of windswept and interesting people.
For weeks upon weeks I have been buried under a pile of emails, word counts and deadlines and the hungry wordsmith in me has loved every minute of it.
So when all my eloquent author-pestering had been done and the Teen Takeover schedule was complete it was time for the good folk at Writing West Midlands to publish the Festival’s programme brochure which they distribute annually to the booklovers of Brum and beyond. This year the launch night for the aforementioned brochure was held at the Birmingham branch of Waterstones, and they only went and invited me, didn’t they?
As the Teen Takeover programmer, I was very kindly asked to go along and say a few words about our mini fest. I have to say dear reader, public speaking really isn’t my forte and to be honest I was crazily nervous, but when they asked so nicely how could I refuse?
So there I was at a posh literary soirée in the city’s best-known bookshop, silently memorising my speech as the finest wordsmiths in the region were chatting over red wine and nibbles and the BBC’s cameras rolled. I’d already watched four speakers do their turns and just as the nerves were about to kick in, my programming mentor Abigail Campbell introduced me. And with my trusty fedora atop my head I drove my chair forward and took the floor.
I’m glad to say my speech went without a hitch and it was a true honour to speak on the same bill as former Birmingham Poet Laureate Roy McFarlane who I deemed the Midlands answer to Gil Scott-Heron as well as author of The Black Country Kerry Hadley-Pryce and many more local talents. I also met the wonderful poet Marianne Burgess author of Amateur Grammatics and had a laugh with my ever-anarchic mate Olly MacNamee. It wouldn’t be a Writing West Midlands event without the legend that is William Gallagher, but this time I had the pleasure of meeting his wife and fellow scribe Angela. Lovely lady. Not to mention catching up with another one of my mentors Joanne Penn, her other half Paul and everyone from Room 204.
It was a great night but the best part by far was perusing the Teen Takeover section of the brochure. To see all those events that began as seeds in our minds in print and realise they will soon be part of a professional production was mind-blowing.
We’ve put together what we hope will be a diverse and entertaining day of events that will appeal to people of all ages. We’ve got the ‘Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs’ event where Y.A. authors Juno Dawson (Being a Boy, This Book is Gay & Mind your Head) and Nicola Morgan (Blame my Brain & The Teenagers Guide to Stress) hold an open-minded and uplifting discussion about young people and mental health.
Followed by a panel proving that modern comics are far from two-dimensional kids books, by showcasing the vast amount of creative diversity that can be found within the medium today.
Join our guests Mike Carey (Lucifer, The Unwritten & X-Men) Leah Moore (co-writer of several acclaimed comic book series and creator of the Electricomics app) and Al ‘The Astral Gypsy’ Davison (The Spiral Cage & Muscle Memory) to find out exactly why graphic novels are smashing their way into the mainstream.
Then Mike Carey will be putting on his M.R. Carey hat as the bestselling author discusses his novel The Girl with All the Gifts and its film adaptation that was shot on the streets of Birmingham. He’ll also be talking about his latest haunting prose tale Fellside and its future on the silver screen.
Internationally renowned poet Hollie McNish will bring the Teen Takeover to an explosive close with a little help from Birmingham’s own BeatFreeks in this unmissable evening of spoken word.
So now you know what I’ve been doing over the past few months, there are only three things left for you to do.
Check out this link to the full Birmingham Literature Festival programme, come along to the Teen Takeover on the 9th of October and help us blow the roof off Waterstones Birmingham.
Tickets for all of the Birmingham Literature Festival – Teen Takeover events are available below.