Greater Manchester has a long established, vibrant and diverse literature scene, reflecting our rich mix of cultural heritage. In any one week you might catch an international poet like Les Murray or Elaine Feinstein at one of the regular Manchester Library readings, a Mushaira at Rochdale’s Kashmir Youth Project featuring the latest sensation in Urdu poetry, the launch of a new anthology at the Irish World Heritage Centre, a happening poetry / music Speakeasy at Manchester’s Green Room, and take to the stage yourself at an open mic event in a trendy out of town bar like the Blue Cat in Heaton Moor, or the Trof Café in Fallowfield.
Manchester has until recently hosted an annual Poetry Festival – this is to morph into the Manchester Literature Festival in 2006, playing host to cutting edge writers of national and international standing. There are also a range of smaller scale annual get-togethers such as Wigan’s Words Festival, the Dead on Deansgate Crime Writing Festival, and there’s rumour of a Stockport Literature Festival in the making.
There are literally hundreds of creative writing groups – ranging from adult education classes to long standing independent groups, such as the Irwell Writers (Bury), Bank Street Writers (Bolton), Salford Women Writers, Cultureword’s Identity Black Writers Workshop and Commonword’s Northern Gay Writers. For those who want to take their writing that step further there’s a choice of Creative Writing graduate and postgraduate courses at Manchester, Salford and Bolton Universities.
Greater Manchester is home to a wide range of independent and community presses and literary journals, including: Carcanet, Comma, Crocus Books, Suitcase, Panshine Press, Citizen 32, Brando’s Hat and the Ugly Tree – they all have their own agendas but share a mission in seeking out the best in contemporary poetry and / or fiction, both home grown and imported.
We’re also a very well read region, with more reading groups than there are libraries! And our librarians work tirelessly to bring new literature to new audiences via exciting reading promotions, such as Salford’s forthcoming War & Peace campaign and the national Big Gay Read.
How do you keep up to date with all this activity? Well you could start by popping into your local library, checking out the Commonword website (www.commonword.org.uk) and signing up for one of the many email newsletters, such as the one co-ordinated by performance poetry outfit Apples and Snakes (email@example.com).