10.00am – 11.00am
Memoir and Journeys
with Amy Liptrot, Anna Fleming, and Lily Dunn
Place plays an essential part in who we are, what we become. From a new experience of life in Berlin to the rough surfaces of rock climbing to a father discovered against the backdrops of India, Italy and San Francisco, these three writers discuss the ways in which memoir and place intersect.
Chaired by Helen Mort
Amy Liptrot grew up on a sheep farm in the Orkney Islands, Scotland. Her bestselling memoir, The Outrun won the Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing and the PEN Ackerley Prize for Memoir and has been translated into 16 languages. Her second book The Instant was published in 2022, and is a Sunday Times bestseller and shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing. She lives in West Yorkshire.
Anna Fleming is a climber, writer and Mountain Leader who has worked for the Cairngorms National Park Authority. Her book Time on Rock: A Climber’s Route into the Mountains (Canongate, 2022) gives a rock-climber’s eye view of the natural world, tracing a geological and personal journey across the British Isles over ten years. In 2017, she completed a PhD with the University of Leeds and the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere, exploring how Wordsworth’s poetry was shaped by the people of Cumbria. Her essays and poetry have been published in journals and anthologies, while she also writes for The Guardian, UKC and Caught By The River. Originally from mid-Wales, she now lives in Edinburgh.
Lily Dunn is an author, academic and mentor. Her memoir, Sins of My Father: A Daughter, A Cult, A Wild Unravelling is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson (March 2022), and her novel, Shadowing the Sun, by Portobello Books (2007). Lily is co-editor of A Wild and Precious Life: Recovery Anthology, with Zoe Gilbert (Unbound 2021). She teaches Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and co-runs London Lit Lab.
Helen Mort writes poetry, fiction and non-fiction, and all of her work is connected by a preoccupation with places and the ways they shape our sense of identity. She is particularly drawn to writing about Sheffield and the Peak District, the urban-rural gritstone-and-heather rain-soaked landscape she grew up knowing. Her 2022 book, A Line Above the Sky, melds memoir and nature writing to ask why humans are drawn to danger, and how we can find freedom in pushing our limits.
11.30am – 12.30pm
Place Writing and the Novel
with Fiona Mozley, Sally J Morgan and Sean Lusk
From Soho brothels to 18th century Constantinople to the seedy side of Leeds in the 1970s: all of these novels are permeated with a vivid and essential evocation of the places where the stories unfold. Join us to discuss how place is created, and how it can be used to infuse life into a narrative.
Chaired by Anna Chilvers
Fiona Mozley is the author of two novels, Elmet and Hot Stew, and several short stories. She is the winner of a Somerset Maugham Award and the Polari Prize, has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, the Ondaatje Prize, and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, and longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Women’s Prize, and the Dublin International Prize. Her writing has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, The Financial Times, The New Statesman, and British Vogue. Fiona grew up in York and lives in Edinburgh.
Sally J Morgan grew up in Wales and Yorkshire. Her debut novel Toto Among the Murderers, set in the north in the 1970s, was published by John Murray Originals in 2020 and was selected as Indie Fiction Book of the Month, long-listed for the New Zealand Ockham Book Awards fiction prize 2021, and won the Portico Prize in 2022. Sally lives in Wellington, New Zealand.
Sean Lusk is an award-winning short story writer, winner of the Manchester Fiction Prize, the Fish Short Story Prize and runner-up in the Bridport and Tom-Gallon Trust prizes. He has lived in Greece, Pakistan and Egypt, working variously as a gardener, speechwriter and diplomatic official. He now lives near Forres on the Moray Firth. The Second Sight of Zachary Cloudesley is his debut novel, published by Doubleday in June and set amongst the distinctive sounds, sights and smells of eighteenth century London and Constantinople. You can find him at www.seanlusk.com or on twitter @seanlusk1
All of Anna Chilvers‘ writing is grounded in place, even when she hasn’t set out with that intention. More and more though, she is consciously starting with place. For her last novel, East Coast Road, she walked five hundred miles from Scotland to Cambridge as research for the story. For her PhD research she has been walking in woodlands, and finding inspiration for story amongst the trees.
1.30pm – 2.30pm
Magic and Connections
with Sonia Overall, Jeff Young and Lucy Jones
Thin places are the porous thresholds between now and then, here and beyond, and can be the connecting space which allows us to access that which is outside our own experience, or reconnect with time we have lost. Ranging through memoir and nature, science and history, this discussion will explore what it means to stretch past what we can see in order to make sense of what we know.
Chaired by David Cooper
Jeff Young is a Liverpool-based dramatist for theatre, radio and TV. He broadcasts essays for BBC Radio 3 and collaborates with musicians and artists on audio installations and performance. As a writer and artist he has worked in a submarine dock, abandoned factories and warehouses, derelict houses and a cobblers shop. His memoir, Ghost Town: A Liverpool Shadowplay, was published in March 2020 by Little Toller and he is now writing the follow up, Wild Twin.
Sonia Overall is a writer, psychogeographer and writing tutor living in East Kent. Her published writing includes novels, poetry, short stories, academic articles and features, many of which touch on psychogeography, spirit of place and aspects of the weird. Her books include the poetry collection The Art of Walking, the walking-writing manual walk write (repeat), and the hybrid memoir Heavy Time. Her novel Eden is scheduled for release with Weatherglass in July 2022. Sonia is a member of the Walking Artists Network and founder and curator of Women Who Walk, a network for walking academics and creatives. Her walking projects include themed public and performative walks, temporary labyrinths and the lockdown walking project on Twitter, #DistanceDrift. She is currently a Senior Lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University, where she runs the MA in Creative Writing.
Lucy Jones is an author and journalist based in Hampshire, England. Her first book, Foxes Unearthed, was celebrated for its ‘brave, bold and honest’ (Chris Packham) account of our relationship with the fox, winning the Society of Authors’ Roger Deakin Award. Her second book, the bestselling Losing Eden: Why Our Minds Need the Wild, was a Times and Telegraph book of the year. Her third book The Nature Seed is about sharing the natural world with children. She previously worked at NME and the Daily Telegraph, and her writing on culture, science and nature has been published in BBC Earth, BBC Wildlife, The Sunday Times, The Guardian and The New Statesman.
David Cooper is Senior Lecturer in English and (with Rachel Lichtenstein) the founding Co-Director of the Centre for Place Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. He is currently writing a critical monograph on the immersive literary geographies of contemporary British and Irish place writing and he is co-editing (with Neal Alexander, Aberystwyth University) The Routledge Handbook of Literary Geographies. He is also a Co-Investigator on ‘Voices of the Future: Collaborating with Children and Young People to Re-Imagine Treescapes’: a major multi-institutional project funded as part of the Future of UK Treescapes programme. David’s creative-critical place writing publications include the pamphlet, ‘The Duddon Estuary: the Myriad Lines of its Relations’ (Unpublished Tour, 2021).
2.40pm – 3.40pm
Place and Belonging
with Anita Sethi, Nicola Chester and Lee Schofield
Place can be the catalyst for a transcendent experience, that sense of being at one with nature. It can also engender feelings of outrage and exclusion and the desire to make positive change against the pressures of prejudice, tradition and economic forces. This discussion will be delving into what it means to belong in a place, and what change looks like from the ground.
Chaired by Tim Edensor
Nicola Chester is an ‘early pioneer of the new nature writing’ and the first and longest-running female columnist for the RSPB. She is a Guardian Country Diarist and her book, On Gallows Down, won the Richard Jefferies Award for the best nature writing, 2021. With themes of place, protest and ‘belonging’, Nicola’s memoir explores a rural, working life of campaigning for, engaging with, and protesting the loss of nature. She lives on the North Wessex Downs, where she also works as a Secondary School Librarian. She is very excited to come to Manchester!
Anita Sethi was on a journey through Northern England when she became the victim of a race-hate crime. A crushing sense of claustrophobia made her long for wide open spaces, to breathe deeply in the great outdoors. She was intent on not letting her experience stop her travelling freely and without fear. Her book I Belong Here tells her story.
Lee Schofield is RSPB senior site manager at Haweswater in the Lake District, a landscape scale nature reserve incorporating working farms. Wild Fell is his first book.
Tim Edensor teaches cultural geography at Manchester Metropolitan University. He is the author of Tourists at the Taj (1998), National Identity, Popular Culture and Everyday Life (2002), and Industrial Ruins: Space, Aesthetics and Materiality, as well as the editor of Geographies of Rhythm (2010) and co-editor of Spaces of Vernacular Creativity (2009) and Urban Theory Beyond the West: A World of Cities (2011).He is editor of Tourist Studies. Tim has written extensively on national identity, tourism, industrial ruins, walking, driving, football cultures, and urban materiality and is currently investigating landscapes of illumination and darkness.
4.00pm – 5.00pm
Poetry of Place
The varied relationships we have with places are central to this poetry. Whether in rural, urban, edgeland or boundary landscapes, we might find a location challenging or associate it with more positive, intimate connections, or understand it better through a residency. We will discuss how themes such as belonging or liminality emerge out of experience, and hear how these three poets creatively engage with the richness of the world.
with Clare Shaw, Jess Mookherjee and Emily Hasler
Chaired by Natalie Burdett
Clare Shaw has four poetry collections with Bloodaxe; their latest collection Towards a General Theory of Love was awarded a Northern Writer’s Award. Clare is Co-director of the Kendal Poetry Festival and a regular tutor for Wordsworth Grasmere and the Arvon Foundation. Clare is also a mental health trainer with a particular interest in trauma, creativity and wellbeing. In 2021, Clare was the resident poet for Lancashire Wildlife Trust and the Carbon Landscape: their work on the Lancashire wetlands and other threatened and reclaimed landscapes often reflects themes of recovery and resilience.
Emily Hasler’s first collection The Built Environment was published by Pavilion in 2018. She is currently working on a new collection called Local Interest, which wallows in the blurred boundaries of salt and fresh water, Suffolk and Essex, local and foreign.
Jessica Mookherjee is of Bengali origin, grew up in Wales and now lives in Kent. Her work appears in many journals including Agenda, Poetry Wales, The North, Rialto, Under the Radar, Birmingham Literary Review and in various anthologies including Bloodaxe’s Staying Human. Her pamphlets are The Swell (TellTale Press 2016) and Joyride (BLER Press 2017) and Playlists (Broken Sleep Books 2021). She was highly commended in the 2017 and 2021 Forward Prize for best single poem. Her first collection, Flood, was published by Cultured Llama in 2018 and her second, Tigress, by Nine Arches Press in 2019 was shortlisted for the Ledbury-Munthe Prize. Her new third collection is called Notes from a Shipwreck (Nine Arches Press 2022). She is a joint editor of Against the Grain Poetry Press and board member of the Poetry Society.
Natalie Burdett is a poet and doctoral research student at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her Laureate’s Choice pamphlet Urban Drift was published by smith|doorstop in 2018. She has previously studied geography and worked in environmental regeneration, and her creative practice is inspired by place. Her research project investigates how creative-critical practice opens up new ways to imagine and understand the complex geographies of the West Midlands.
Friday 9 September – £45
Saturday 10 September – £45
Both days – £80