Everyone's heard of the Liverpool Poets – and the Beatles – but that was the sixties. And you might be aware of Bleasdale, Rushton, and Bainbridge on the plays and novels front. Who's been carrying the literature torch since then? Well in poetry, for starters: Dinesh Allirajah, Mandy Coe, Deryn Rees-Jones, Jean Sprackland, Levi Tafari and Glyn Wright have all produced significant work over the last 20 years in Merseyside.
Locally, there’s a thriving scene made up of regular literary events – plenty of opportunities to see great talent, and to have a go yourself. On the festival front, Liverpool ’s Writing on the Wall promotes writing for justice and equality, while over the water the Wirral Ode Show gives more than twenty poets a year a chance to perform their work for the first time. Poetry in the City plans a programme of events running for April and May, including poetry and dance, poetry and music, and a poetry market.
On a smaller but no less popular scale, Modern Transmissions takes place at FACT in Liverpool , The Reader magazine programmes events, and occasional gigs are organised by local publishers Headland Press and Driftwood Publications. Sefton Arts organises poetry gigs at the Left Bank Brasserie in Formby and at Stamps in Crosby . The Dead Good Poets Society (DGPS) run city-centre open floors, guest nights, a new venture called JAW-JAM (dancers from Common Ground sign dance group, plus poets), and poetry reading groups at Liverpool Central Library and at Bebington Library on the Wirral.
If you’re interested in joining a reading or writing group, or taking part in some writing workshops, you’ll also find plenty going on. The Library Service runs several active reading groups. DGPS runs five workshops and three masterclasses over the course of a year, and is starting a Black Writers' Group. A script writers group, Creative Edge, meets in the DGPS building too. The Windows Project organises writing workshops in community venues and schools across Merseyside and into Salford and Manchester . They also host a Writers' Advice Desk at Childwall Library on the 1st Wednesday of the month.
On the publishing front, Merseyside also boasts some independent magazines of national and international repute: Smoke, Orbis, The Reader and Neon Highway, plus newcomers Mercy and Back to the Machine Gun, to name a few. Check out the monthly DGPS newsletter which is available through email or snail mail – a great way to keep up to date on local events and opportunities for writers.