Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Pattie McCarthy

Pattie McCarthy is the author of six books of poetry: Quiet Book, Marybones, Table Alphabetical of Hard Words, Verso, and bk of (h)rs from Apogee Press, and nulls from Horse Less Press. She is also the author of a dozen chapbooks, most recently margerykempething and qweyne wifthing from eth press. A former Pew Fellow in the Arts, McCarthy teaches literature and creative writing at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Here are four of her sonnets from a longer sequence. 


this year aged me twenty it's stupid

to say but it's true           it's them pills I took
&c      whatever     at forty-
five lady mary carey wrote her
meditation it's as good a time as any
I think you should know I walk the long way
home      circumambulate the seminary
when I was a kid my friends would sled there
hold on tight         but I said I don't jump
fences to get closer to priests
there are different categories of loss
don't confuse my sadness for guilt or regret
I count counted backwards to it     I hope
you like how I'm wearing my effort now


mercy      a midden or a crown       mercy
the witches come in silks with manbuns
reckless with optimism we go on
my father's body is probably gone
in truth I rarely think of it that way
good wyvern       my daughterthing says      she said
this year is twenty years maybe next time
I get to be the one who falls apart
depictions of the body as bloodless
weightless      anemic   plastic      couldn't be
more distant from me I don't know how to
read them      I cannot helpe peoples talking
of me       of course I'm wrong about his body
but I'm horrorstruck thinking about it


mercy only      goodwyfs from the other
side of town are witches that's obvious
in my tongue of wool & flax is the law
in my autumnal teaching costume I
exercise the etymology of
gossamer for fifty minutes
once there was a daughterthing she watched
her cobwebs    mercy  a midden or crown
her back to the hill her face to the sea
& which is still to be seen to this day
note     she is impassable at high tide
unexpected catalogue      archive of
the flood     a large accumulation of small
things chalky softwhite left on my fingers


mercy you have to relearn hunger you
have to learn to be hungry for days so
hungry that lights go out as you pass so
hungry steps disappear just do the work
unnatural november weather
easing up for year-end erasure
mercy     only goodwyfs from the impassable
tide the other side         archive of the flood
these days need crows & so they come we put
glittering things out to draw them near     not
near enough        when my son can't sleep we day
dream the dazzle of sunlight on water
different bodies all the time       it's the dazzle
that soothes him       he stores fragments for later

Monday, 18 December 2017

Poetanoster: Call for Poems to Commemorate the Attenborough Tower Paternoster

By Corinne Fowler

The Attenborough paternoster will soon be dismantled and replaced with a modern lift. Many have fond memories of this rare and historic lift. The Centre for New Writing is calling for poems to commemorate the paternoster. The best of these will be published in a pamphlet, called Poetanoster, together with interviews with porters (in a section called 'Porternoster'). We will archive all the poems in Special Collections in David Wilson Library and hold an event with inaugural readings of the poems in the New Year.

If you would like to submit a poem for consideration, please send it to Corinne Fowler,

Friday, 1 December 2017

Dystopian Workshop, Hosted by the University of Leicester Creative Writing Society

By Xenophon Kalogeropoulos

Remember, remember the ... 28th of November? Probably, because that is when we hosted our first workshop based on dystopia in collaboration with the David Wilson Library of the University of Leicester. And yes, true to the theme of dystopia, I started this article with a V for Vendetta reference.

 About two months before that important date, we were approached by the university library with a very interesting proposal. Since we are the Creative Writing society, they asked us if we would like to deliver a comprehensive workshop based on dystopia in the spirit of this year’s Read at Leicester project, which placed Naomi Alderman’s The Power - you guessed it: a dystopian novel - in every student accommodation of our university. This proposal was within the wider spectrum of getting people interested in reading, but also writing, with the first workshop’s theme being that of dystopia. We couldn’t have agreed more and so we began planning from the beginning of October. 

On the 28th November it was our brave secretary who took it upon himself to lead the session (yes, the same secretary who is writing this article and is definitely not biased in the descriptions of himself!). Attendance was good with many people attending who were not necessarily part of our society. 

We began from the ground up, starting with the basics of constructing a dystopian world, identifying what went wrong in that world, how did it affect the people in it, what its rules and antagonists are and finally, our main character(s). We tried to make the workshop as interesting and interactive as possible by asking our audience what their definitions of a dystopia were and what examples of dystopia in novels, film, games and popular culture they could find. They were amazing and identified many of the popular dystopian stories (1984, A Brave New World, Hunger Games, etc.) but they missed Children of Men. How can one miss Children of Men? As I mentioned when presenting, “CoM is a textbook dystopian story”:it contains all the elements of a dystopia as if the scriptwriters were checking them off a list. In fact, a lot of the workshop was built around following Children of Men’s structure and ways of going about delivering the cinematic experience of a dystopia.

All throughout the workshop we tried to encourage moving away from the established notions of what a dystopia is like, into more original territory (for example, we advised them to try and create a dystopian world that isn’t dark, completely industrialized and polluted, but rather sunny and green, for a change). Towards the end of the workshop we had a whole slide dedicated to dystopian clichés and avoiding them (e.g.: the antagonist is always a plutocratic, autocratic Big-Brother government of some kind), and that was when the audience roared up and intimidated me when I tried to criticize the Hunger Games! A dedicated fanbase indeed …!

Finally, we all took part in a writing task which would have each group (the audience was seated in specific tables-groups) try to create their own dystopian world based on what they had learned throughout the presentation. Each table presented us with amazing dystopian worlds like one where men were the minority after a major war and they were revered as god-like beings by women who were the majority and had replaced them in almost every way… Happy stuff...! 

After all was said and done, we shared with our audience a small literary competition we are hosting as a society which called for the submission of 3000-word dystopian short stories by the 5th of December, with the prize of a possible chance for publication and (what everybody likes) a £10.00 Amazon voucher.

All in all, it was a very interesting and enlightening experience for all involved and, we believe, everyone left equipped with all the necessary knowledge of how things could go wrong at any given moment ... Now, we’re waiting for the submissions for our competition to see how our creative audience chooses to employ all they learned with us at the workshop. 

For further details about the competition, including the rules, please email the society:

About the writer

My name is Xenophon and I am from Hellas (Greece), on my second year of study here at the university. I am quite interested in history and writing and I like to see myself as an aspiring writer. Presently, I am serving as Secretary in the Creative Writing Society of the university, regularly leading creative writing workshops on a range of themes and literary genres. 

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Writing Lives Together

By Jonathan Taylor

At last night's Leicester Shindig Open-mic Poetry Evening, the Centre for New Writing launched its new pamphlet, Writing Lives Together, an anthology of original poetry and prose inspired by nineteenth-century life writing.

This pamphlet grows out of a project called ‘Writing Lives Together: Romantic and Victorian Biography,’ run by Dr. Felicity James and Dr. Julian North, who also hosted a major conference and edited a special issue of the journal Life Writing (June 2017). As part of this wider project, contemporary writers were commissioned to produce their own, creative responses to the research into nineteenth-century life writing. This pamphlet is the result. It features poetry and prose by Jo Dixon, Richard Byrt, Gregory Leadbetter, Alyson Morris, Anna Larner, Aysar Ghassan, Jonathan Taylor and Seán Body.

You can read more details about the pamphlet, which is free to order, as well as the Centre for New Writing's other publications here.

The Shindig launch last night included an introduction by Julian North and readings by some of the writers in the pamphlet. The evening also included wonderful readings by featured poets Julia Bird and Simon Turner, as well as lots of great open-mic poets. 

Here is one of the poems from the Writing Lives Together pamphlet, called "On Reflection," by Anna Larner:

On Reflection

If we were to meet again, I would say
sorry today, for then, when mad with love,
deranged with passion, all reason astray,
I cried “I love you!” Three words – not enough.

So I left flowers to wilt at your door,
composed mixed tapes, wrote odes, baked cakes, your name
on my lips, in my brain. “Be mine” I implored,
as I failed exams, missed deadlines, endured pain.

I lost sleep, got sick, felt weak, refused to 
see sense – still convinced that you could be mine.
And through it all, silent, wise and kind, you
knew the one answer for me would be time.

You were so gentle with your rejection.
Yes, I can see that now, on reflection.

"On Reflection" was inspired by Coleridge’s poem "To Asra" (1803) which speaks in passionate terms of overflowing, limitless love. The hyperbole of language and the exaggerated feeling expressed by Coleridge evoked a memory for me of experiencing that same consuming passion when I fell in love at university. I have used the rhythm of the iambic pentameter and the rhyme of the fourteen line structure of the English, Shakespearian sonnet employed by Coleridge.

- Anna Larner

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Sci-fi Shorts Competition

By Jonathan Taylor

Over the last few months, the Centre for New Writing, Literary Leicester Festival and the National Space Centre have together been running a Creative Writing competition called "Sci-Fi Shorts." Entrants were invited to write science-fiction short stories on a space theme. There were two categories, one for writers 15 and under, one for writers 16+. 

The winners have now been announced, and the awards ceremony took place at the Space Centre as part of Literary Leicester Festival on Saturday, along with talks by eminent science-fiction authors Philip Reeve and Alastair Reynolds

The judging panel included representatives from the National Space Centre and the Centre for New Writing at the University of Leicester. I was one of them. The competition was hugely enjoyable to judge, and there were many strong entries to choose from - despite the difficulty of the challenge. As someone whose first published stories were science fiction, I often think science fiction is one of the hardest of all genres to write in. You have to juggle so many different elements in a successful science fiction story: stylish writing, characterisation, convincing scientific details, so-called "world building," and the demands of narrative - of telling a good story.  I moved away from writing science fiction many years ago - though I've always thought I might eventually return to it, and I still read widely in the form - to write in a more "realist" (or magical-realist) vein. I can't help feeling that realism is easier in some ways: you don't have to manage the science in the same way, and your world is ready-built for you. To manage these things whilst telling a good and emotional story is the great challenge of science fiction; and the winning entries for this competition did so brilliantly, almost effortlessly, in ways I very much admire.

You can read the prize-winning entries via the links below:

Age 16+:
Winner: 'In Gagarin’s Time' by Laura Ward
Runner-up: 'Bunker Mentality' by Paul Starkey 

Age 15 and below:
Winner: 'In Armstrong’s Footsteps' by Ashley Tan Mei-Lynn 
Runner-up: 'Lost In Space' by Giles Carey

Honourable Mentions:
‘What is it, Leavine?’ by Adair Cole 

‘Space Debris’ by Andrew Doubt 

Some of the winners with Philip Reeve at the Space Centre

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Ambrose Musiyiwa

Ambrose Musiyiwa is the author of the poetry pamphlet, The Gospel According to Bobba. He co-edited Welcome to Leicester (Dahlia Publishing, 2016), an anthology that explores the story of Leicester through poetry. His poems have been featured in poetry anthologies that include Over Land, Over Sea: Poems for Those Seeking Refuge (Five Leaves Publications, 2015), Do Something (Factor Fiction, 2016), and Write to be Counted (The Book Mill, 2017).

Featured below are two creative pieces by Ambrose.

Job Centre

viewed from Lee Street,
the Job Centre 
is a place of scars,
broken things

and exits to nowhere

Batman is a joker

You take a friend to the train station and then walk home on your own. You have a backpack. In it are cameras, batteries and a laptop. The night smells of autumn spreading a duvet. The backpack is heavy.

You get home, put the kettle on, make a cup of coffee, sit down, and your phone rings. Your mom wants to know if you are OK.

You say you are alive and well and really, really happy. And you tell her about the wonderful people who have been in and out of various parts of your day.

She says she is happy you are happy. Even over the phone, you can hear the relief in her voice.

You ask her if she is OK. She says she is fine.

You ask her what's wrong.

She is silent.

Then she sighs.

She has woken up from a dream in which Batman is a joker and joker Batman is a woman on a bicycle with a balaclava she wears like a beenie hat. Her cycling gear is a bullet-proof bomb-proof get up that makes her look like a Missy Elliot impersonator.

I give you to the city, mother says. In the same way you gave yourself to the city, I give you to the city.

The line breaks. You try to call her back many times. You cannot get through. You stop trying because the line is like that. Sometimes it is there. And sometimes it is not there. The line has a will of its own.

You are tired.

Monday, 9 October 2017

"Ruhi": Short Story by Amirah Mohiddin

Congratulations to MA Creative Writing student Amirah Mohiddin, whose story "Ruhi" has just been published by Litro Magazine. You can read it here.