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National Writers’ Conference 2021

a picture of the writing west midlands booklet

Saturday 4th September, Writing West Midlands hosted The National Writer’s Conference at The University of Birmingham, hosting a wide range of keynote speakers, panels, and educational talks from figures of note within the literature world.

Jonathan Davidson, Writing West Midlands

This was my first NWC, and I didn’t know what to expect, but as both a Writer and a wet-eared publisher, what struck me was the pure passion with which every panelist spoke of their practice. I was moved to tears by the first Keynote speaker, Professor Thomas Glave of Bingham University, after he spoke of the fearlessness with which we must throw ourselves into our writing, like ballerinas with no regard of who will catch us.

Highlights for me personally included talks on “How Publishing Works” and “Literary Magazines”, particularly hearing the inspiring Romalyn Ante speak about the success of Harana Poetry, on a panel alongside Malachi McIntosh from Wasafiri Magazine, and Luke Neima of Granta.

It was enlightening to hear the Keynote Speech from Dr Darren Henley OBE, Chief Executive of Arts Council England which shed some light on the mystifying process of applying for funding. It comes at a time of “national transition” whereby writers and other artists are increasingly being encouraged to apply to “ensure their work engages widely.” It was thanks to this that I actually find myself currently mid-application for Fawn Press.

As ever, the unimitable Birmingham Poet Laureate Casey Bailey spoke with an air of confidence and humour about working online, and provided some great tips which I personally have adapted into my own online workshop practice since.

From essential professional advice regarding Arts Council Funding for personal development as well as for larger projects, to the gentle yet powerful reminder from Jasmine Gardosi, that “writing sometimes looks like resting, living, and evolving” the entire day felt riveting, intellectually stimulating, and totally inspiring.

Special thanks go to Writing West Midlands, who provided a “goodie bag” filled with books such as the 40th Birthday Edition of Granta Magazine, as well as “The Long & Short of It” and “Sealed With A Loving Kiss” from The Emma Press.

Both as a Writer in my personal profession, and as a representative of Fawn Press, I felt that the line up had both inspired and educated me, and it was wonderful to share a day of laughter and uplifting conversation with friends and fellow writers alike.

I look forward to returning for NWC2022!

-Scarlett x

sThe University Of Birmingham Campus
Scarlett Ward Bennett, Fawn Press