A Literary Inspired Week and a Prize-Winning Giveaway (now closed)

Last week was one of the most amazing and most surreal weeks of my life. It was down to acting as treasurer for the Hull University English Society. As it is National Novel Writing Month, we have been organising lots of events to get students inspired to write, but not just novels, they can write short stories or poetry if they wish…we just want to get students writing! As well as writing workshops, part of the programme that we have mapped out for the month are ‘inspirational events’ to inspire people to pick up the pen. These events are talks led by established authors, including local Hull author Russ Litten, who kicked off our launch night!

Our brave participants looking eager on launch night!

Our brave participants looking eager on launch night!

Russ is thoroughly involved in our plans, and has offered to help judge to outcomes of the month of creativity, to pick a winner to be published in the student newspaper! He is going to announce the winner at an open mic night we are holding in December, where students can share the work that they have written throughout the month.

This week though, we had less of a focus on running writing workshops and had a bigger focus on inspiring the writing, as the motivation drops throughout the month. I kicked off the week, remarkably, by having afternoon tea with 2011 Man Booker winner Julian Barnes. This surreal meeting took place in the Royal Station Hotel in Hull, where he met with the University’s postgraduate creative writing students. There was a discussion about Barnes’ writing style and how he approaches the creative writing process. On the evening, he gave a lecture about his Booker winning novel The Sense of an Ending in the 500+ capacity Middleton Hall at the University. The lecture was an opportunity for the audience to ask him questions about the novel. I was honoured to be asked to write an article about the event for the Booker Prize Foundation’s blog…I’ll post the link as soon as I have it! Continue reading

A Trip to Whitby!

Whitby Abbey!

Last weekend, my boyfriend decided that he wanted to have a trip to Whitby since I wasn’t working. Since I only live one and a half hours away, I have visited Whitby many times, but since my comes from Skegness, he has only visited it once, and had never been to the Abbey.

So we set out on Saturday morning and the sun was even shining as we made or way over the moors to Whitby! Once we had arrived (and finally found somewhere to park!) we wandered through the old town in the direction of the Abbey.

One stop that I simply had to make on the way was a trip to Bobbins, whose sign claims it to be ‘a knitters paradise’ and it certainly is! Located inside an old hall, the room is crammed full of baskets of luxurious wool. Be prepared for an expensive visit though, they don’t stock any cheap yarns!

Continue reading

Humber Mouth Horror Night

Last night I attended one of the events that is part of a series taking place known as the Humber Mouth Literary Festival. Even for a bookworm like me, this is the first year I found out that we have a literary festival! I only found out due to a pile of leaflets lurking in a cupboard at work! However, even with the lack of advertising, the venue was still crammed full of people!

The horror night consisted of four authors, most notably, Alison Littlewood, whose book ‘Cold Season,’ has been chosen as one of Richard and Judy’s book club titles, reading stories that had been specially commissioned for the event. Each author wrote their own ‘horror’ story, then read it to the candlelit room, illuminated by an eerie red spotlight.

While the setting was described as a ‘Victorian parlour’ the tales of horror were distinctly modern; a change for me, as an avid reader of Victorian ghost stories. These modern tales focused more on psychological horrors, rather than ghostly hauntings of grotesque manifestations, but the audience still listened in a rapt silence. While some of the stories had an obvious element of horror, others were less clear and left the audience feeling confused, yet certain that something horrific was lurking in the shadows of the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed the night; the atmosphere was fantastic and many of the stories made me feel uneasy and nervous as I sat in suspense. I am eager to explore more of the literature events taking part this year so I will be keeping my eyes open for more to go to!

World Book Night 2012

World Book Night is celebrated on 23rd April every year. This date is significant as it is the date of Shakespeare’s birth, and to mark it, it has been appointed the national day of the book, which is why it was chosen as the annual date to celebrate World Book Night. On World Book Night, thousands of ‘givers’ are chosen to hand out twenty-five copies of their chosen book COMPLETELY FREE, to people who usually don’t read. In total that makes one million free books being given away to non-readers.

This year I was fortunate enough to be selected as a ‘giver,’ and I decided to give away my books to parents at the local Rainbows and Brownies units where I volunteer. I decided to give my books to parents because I feel that it is incredibly important to encourage children to read, and the most effective way of doing this is by them witnessing their parents reading. Many of the parents that I spoke to claimed that they didn’t have time to read, or said that on an evening they would rather do something “relaxing” like watching television. While television can prove mind-numbing, it is no less relaxing than reading a book. Ultimately, the conclusion that I drew from this was that the parents were creating excuses why they couldn’t read. So I gave them an excuse to.

On the evening when I was handing out the books, many of the parents were incredibly grateful to receive it. I had chosen Bill Bryson’s ‘Notes from a Small Island’ to hand out, as I felt that it would appeal to non-readers in two unique ways – it is non-fiction, and it is an easy-going read. I didn’t feel that handing a Dickens novel to a non-reader would encourage them to read much, as even I – an English student – can find Dickens challenging at times! It also has the appeal of being about Britain, which is a particularly strong theme currently with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the fast approaching Olympic Games.

The most grateful recipient of my book was determined to give me a donation for the book I was giving her and I had to assure her several times that no donation was required or would be taken under any circumstance. She was so thrilled to be given a book for free as she did enjoy reading but found little time to do so – now she fully intends to make time!

However, some people were less willing to take a book from me, even if it was free. One woman didn’t want to take the book as she said she wasn’t a very strong reader, but I assured her that she wouldn’t find it taxing and she ended up staying for the whole meeting, sitting in the corner reading! She said that she would have to get her nine-year-old daughter to help her with it as she was a better reader, which made it even more special as she is able to share the beauty of reading with her daughter, and they both have the ability to learn together. Another man initially turned down my offer of a free book and walked away very quickly, but when I asked him when he returned for his daughter, he looked slightly more interested, picking up a book to have a look at it. I assured him that he would probably enjoy reading it, and he eventually agreed to take one, commenting that it might “inspire” him.

The most rewarding thing I experienced when handing out my books, however, was the reaction of the girls, who were aged between five and nine. All of the girls are naturally very inquisitive, so they were incredibly interested in what I was giving out. However, what went beyond the natural inquisitiveness was when they started coming and questioning me and asking, “Did my Mum take one?” “Did you give my Dad one?” and the prospect of getting a free book, even though it was way beyond their reading ages, was exciting for them. It was wonderful to see how many of the girls wanted to look at the books and talk to their parents about them.

So if I have achieved anything from giving out twenty-four free books (only one was left unclaimed!) I hope it will be to have got twenty-four girls excited about reading, which will hopefully be encouraged by their parents. My love of books stems from years of having witnessed my Nanna reading, a love which transferred to my Mum and then to me. I hope that the parents I have given these books to will enjoy them, and their children will see them enjoy them, so that they themselves can discover the joys of reading through their parents.

If you enjoyed this please read my article on the London Olympics: http://bit.ly/IaTK1X

HUUTV Short Film Competition 23/04/12

Last night I attended the HUUTV Short Film Competition for students of Hull University and the local colleges. HUUTV is a television station run by students of Hull University. The event took place in Fruit, located in the old Fruit market of Hull, which is now becoming the hub of unique arts and crafts events in the city. Fruit was an apt location for the Short Film Competition, as it is renowned for hosting its Cult Cinema Evenings and Horror Fests. This fantastic opportunity let the students films share the screen that has presented some of the most famous Hollywood classics.

You cannot help but be amazed by the quality of the films, which students are responsible for writing, filming, directing, acting and editing. The films fully represent a student’s outlook on life, which makes them incredibly unique. A full spectrum of genres is covered, from comedy to drama and tragedy, even science fiction. This event covers such a range of themes, issues and ideas, which makes every one of the films contrast from the others.

The winner of best film was ‘Lost Inside,’ which was directed by Shay McGrear. It was the worthy winner after producing an emotional silent film about a girl who struggles with agoraphobia, a fear of going outside. It is a wonderfully captivating film that is truly touching and was of professional standard. It was chosen by the four judges, including Hull’s Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress. However, the audience vote went to ‘An Expedition,’ a comedy about Shakleton’s failed expedition to Narnia, which was incredibly entertaining, and also took the ‘Best Script’ award.

You can watch ‘Lost Inside’ at http://vimeo.com/40618871

To find out more about HUUTV or to view some short films produced by the Hull University students, take a look at the website:

www.huutv.co.uk

If you enjoyed this please read my article on the London Olympics: http://bit.ly/IaTK1X