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Live Literature returns: Autumn 2017



After a series of diverse and exciting events in Autumn 2016 and Spring 2017, including performances from captivating poet Ruby Robinson, flash fiction maestro David Gaffney, spectacular novelist Jenn Ashworth and many more, English and Creative Writing at Bolton are proud to again partner with Bolton Library and Museum Services for a new season of literary events.



Autumn 2017 will bring talented Leeds novelist S J Bradley to Bolton in November, for an interview on writing practice, her new novel Guest, and setting out as a published author. Then In December, we’ll have the mesmeric poet and performer Kayo Chingonyi joining us, reading from his stunning debut collection of poems, Kumukanda, a book already chosen by the FT as one of its picks of 2017.

First up, though, are celebrated young Irish poet Eoghan Walls and the multi-talented Mancunian fiction writer Neil Campbell.

Join us at Bolton Central Library, Monday 2nd October, 6.30pm, for an unmissable night of Live Literature. We look forward to seeing you there!



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Some more good news…

Ladies and Gentlemen, we give you Krysta Waddington.

Last summer Krysta graduated with a (mighty fine) degree in Creative Writing. Following that she started a PGCE at The University of Bolton, and we were only too happy to be able to offer her a placement with us, assisting with the teaching of the first year of the same course she’d just finished.

We’re delighted to be able to report now what we’ve known for weeks, that Krysta has not only completed her PGCE successfully but will be awarded a double distinction!

Now, we could claim some credit for this – we could say that the mentoring she’s received has been vital, that the willingness of all to help her wherever they could and accommodate her teaching needs has contributed in some small way.

We could, but we won’t.

Krysta, it’s all been down to you – to your work ethic, to your determination, to your months of struggle, to your perseverance, to your willingness to learn, to challenge yourself, and, above all, to the fact that you know what you’re doing and you’re very good at it!

It’s been a joy: on behalf of the CW team, and all our lovely first years, we’d like to say not only ‘Congratulations!’ but, more importantly, ‘Thank you.’

Thank you, Krysta, for all you’ve done – for helping our students with the transition to University learning, for the teaching, for the endless hours of tutorials, for contributing so magnificently to our courses. For the smiles. For the co-operation. For caring, so, so much. We know that our students have had a blast, that you’ve enriched both their learning and their experience of life at The University of Bolton. From them, too, a giant thank you.

We’ll miss you. Classes won’t be the same without you in them.

The kettle’s always on, if you’re near…

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The Bolton Review – Issue 5

The launch party for “Commas and Cocktails”, the latest issue of the University’s student-led creative magazine The Bolton Review, took place in the University Law Courts on Wednesday with guests enjoying a selection of canapes and cocktails.

Hosted by its current editors, English and Creative Writing student Holly Gray and Creative Writing student Madison Hope-Tatnell, the event included readings from writers published in the new issue.

The Review, published by Steam Hammer Press, is packed with prose, poetry, plays, photographs and illustrations with contributions from students, staff and alumni from the University as well as from college and sixth form students studying in Bolton.

This year the editors received hundreds of submissions, and due to its success the format has changed with the publication elevated to a sophisticated perfect bound style which was received with delight during the much-awaited unveiling.

Holly Gray and Madison Hope-Tatnell

Holly Gray (above left) said: ‘We are thrilled with the fantastic support The Bolton Review has received and the amazing turnout today. We have sold a record number of copies at the launch party and the contributors were delighted to see their work in print.’

Madison Hope-Tatnell (above right) added: ‘We would like to thank everyone involved with special thanks to Dr Simon Holloway for his encouragement and support and to the members of the Editorial Team who worked so hard with us to ensure Commas and Cocktails received this success.’

The magazine has been so well received that copies also flew out of the door at The Creative Writing Showcase which took place at the Octagon Theatre following the event, and discussions are already underway to produce a special edition later in the year.

Commas and Cocktails 1

You can email s.holloway@bolton.ac.uk to request a copy via post (£4 + P&P)

You can follow The Bolton Review on Twitter @TheBoltonReview and read Issue 4 online at the magazine’s website: http://boltonreview.wordpress.com


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‘Sensory technicolour and surreal originality’: Live Literature with Rees-Jones, Rees and Robinson – our correspondent Jeni Mills reports

March 14th marked the fifth event in the Live Literature calendar, a collaborative project by the University of Bolton and Bolton Central Library to host live readings for the public that showcase the talents of a host of writers. Somewhat fittingly for National Women’s Month, the evening spotlighted the (so far) all-female Pavillion Poetry series published by the University of Liverpool Press.

dery rees-jones

Beginning the evening was the series editor Deryn Rees-Jones, author of four collections of poetry, including the highly acclaimed Burying the Wren. After opening with the hauntingly beautiful prose piece ‘Siren’, she guided the audience through a menagerie of bird imagery in ‘Collared Doves’ and her two-act piece, ‘A Courtship: Great Crested Grebes and Bowerbirds’, all deftly rendered in sensory technicolour. She finished with ‘IM’, an artful sequence of “disappointed sonnets” taken from her most recent collection, What It’s Like To Be Alive: Selected Poems.


Tasked with following this was Eleanor Rees, lecturer in Creative Writing at Liverpool Hope University and author of Andraste’s Hair, a collection shortlisted for both the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Glen Dimplex New Writer’s Award. Her confident rendition of the rarely-performed, sensual whimsy that is ‘Becoming Miniature’ was more than up to the task. We were then treated to ‘Bidie’s Tomb’ and ‘St. Seiriol’s Well’, unpublished litanies borne of her current

Eleanor Reespreoccupation with writing about minor holy sites, before being regaled with 2015’s eponymous offering of ‘Blood Child’, an epic about a “red-ice-storm-creature” in search of its mother, punctuated by a harrowing, bloody refrain.

Notable for their innocuous titles, such as ‘Past’ and ‘Romance’, the poems performed by Ruby Robinson displayed both a skilful command of semantics and a surreal originality of syntax. Delivered with a quiet geniality that endeared her to the rapt audience, the touching piece simply titled

Forward Prizes  2016‘Apology’ was characteristic of the warmth and honesty present in Every Little Sound: her debut publication which landed her on the 2016 shortlist for the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection.

Complementing the line-up of published authors was a special guest performance by home-grown talent, the University of Bolton’s own Adam Foley. Exhibiting a knack for intense imagery bested only by the scope of his uniquely comical observations, Foley’s recital of ‘The Universal Sign For I Don’t Want To Talk To You’ and ‘Just For a Moment’ was, typically, delivered in accordance with the audience’s preference.

The final instalment in this series of Live Literature will take place at Bolton Central Library on the 25th of April, featuring performances by flash fiction author David Gaffney and self-proclaimed “poety type” Joey Connolly.


Jeni Mills is a third-year English and Creative Writing student at the University of Bolton.

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Live Literature with Ian Duhig and A J Ashworth


Ian Duhig reads from his poems

I think it’s fair to say we were completely spoiled with the two readers who came to Bolton to perform as part of February’s Live Literature series: Ian Duhig and A J Ashworth.

We laughed, learned, marvelled and were moved by both Ian’s poems – taking in everything from blind road-makers to Franza Kafka, alternative wedding vows to the Holy Grail – and Andrea’s tender yet unnerving short stories, uncovering the terror and surprise that lurks just beneath the surface of our apparently ‘ordinary’ lives.

Live Literature takes place each month during the University of Bolton’s Autumn and Spring semesters. Each entirely FREE event is run in conjunction with the lovely people at Bolton Central Library and Museum Services.


Poet Ruby Robinson, who will be reading on 14 March from her new T.S. Eliot Prize-shortlisted collection, Every Little Sound

This month sees a special Live Literature event, featuring poets who are part of the Pavilion Poetry imprint at Liverpool University Press. Come along to Bolton Central Library on Le Mans Crescent for 6.30pm on Tuesday 14 March, to see T.S. Eliot Prize-shortlisted poets including Deryn Rees-Jones, Eleanor Rees and Ruby Robinson. Not to be missed.

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The Fears of (not) Writing

Our latest lovely guest post from a recent graduate, Krysta Waddington, shows clearly how the trials we face as students won’t leave us alone once we finish our undergraduate degrees…This ‘writing’ thing, this mucking about with words – once it gets to you, you’re stuck. Sorry about that, Krysta…

You can read the full blog here: The ramblings of a writer, bookworm, mother & so on…

The Fears of Writing

For quite some months now I have had a character tormenting my every hour. She mostly keeps me up during the night. She finds waking me up at around 2am is most beneficial to her. It seems to be the hour in which my mind is able to outline and sketch her journey. The trouble is, she doesn’t seem to know how much I love my sleep, and I do love it – dearly. This has been happening for quite some time. I find my subconscious saves me most days – whilst in the midst of conversation, knowing how important and polite it is to make eye contact when someone is talking… but what does that matter when I’m not listening? I don’t mean to be rude but this character doesn’t care. She wants her story written and I am not delivering. And when I’m not delivering I write a blog to rid some of the guilt for not writing! I’m quite aware that I need to write it soon, but first I need to eliminate the fear that is withholding me from putting pen to paper. The fear of disappointing my character, and myself.

I know my character, she is strong, sassy and independent. I know the obstacles she needs to overcome and what the outcome of her journey needs to be. The finer details, the ones that matter, the small steps that develop my character are the ones that keep me from doing what I so clearly need to do.

To help me – inspire me even, I have opened each notebook I own and asked myself how I started the stories I have written so far. I came to discover that I am the most disorganised writer in the history of writers. With each story, it seems I randomly start writing something/anything. From that something, I develop a character, and by the fourth or fifth draft I have a completely different story (I’m not saying that this approach is wrong but for this particular character it won’t work.) There are no sticky notes, plans, sketches or timelines. I carelessly throw myself into a story not knowing exactly where it is going. It was then that I realised that not only do I do this as a writer, but as a person. Planning seems to scare me, the possibility of a plan failing causes disappointment and the fear of disappointment prevents me from planning.

As a result of this I can be quite impulsive and stubborn. If I decide I want to do something, I know I have to do it before I change my mind and therefor become quite stubborn with reasoning. It’s a trait my mother both loves and fears. Especially if I tell her I’ve decided to move house…again. ‘She’s moving again, the bloody gypsy!’ She knows once I decide to move I won’t budge, she also knows she has to drive the hire van.

I think I’m making myself sound far more exciting than I actually am. I can assure you that I am actually quite boring; depending on your definition of that word.

Anyway, this impulsive attitude and approach to writing obviously isn’t working for me at the moment. So… I bought sticky notes! And I am going to use them! The very thought of them being stuck around my bedroom (my writing place) and making it look messy fills me with dread but I am going to do it! I will even post pictures to my next blog to prove that I am changing my writing ways! I truly hope that this new approach helps to eliminate my fear of failing my character, with more planning and organisation I am determined to do her proud. Time will tell.

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Something to Boast About

What follows is a post from one of our current students, Jodie Boast, about how structured reading can help the creativity flow, giving us ideas, inspiration and clues as to narrative design. The post can be seen in all its full glory here: https://somethingtoboastabout.com/2016/10/14/a-small-good-thing-review/

(Spoiler Alert!)

Throughout my writing journey, I have found that Raymond Carver is one of my favourite authors. His writing and short stories are usually uplifting and quite entertaining. They have meaning and are very easy to read.

This particular reading: A Small Good Thing– was a brilliant, yet sad, read. I had recently had some bad news regarding some distant friends and this story really was emotionally touching for me. I thought it was brilliantly thought out and the contrast between the family at the beginning to the way the sit and eat together- but not as you imagined at first… I was really happy I came across this short story for my ‘Writing Fiction Workshop’ module. It really establishes a brilliant narrative- which gave me inspiration to creative a narrative structure for my own story.

The short story is a very simple structure- the plot is very basic: mother buys cake, boy gets hit by car, a phone call is made followed by them all dining together. I liked how the story really took a different turn on the effect of someone’s child being gone. I liked how the author, Carver, really portrayed other characters to be part of the crime. As the ‘driver put the car into gear and drove away’, (pg 309) we don’t actually know who the driver was. Carver presents other characters as the driver or hints that they could be. Was it the baker? The person who actually initiates the notion that bad things happen in life, and sometimes people have their own things going on. The baker didn’t know what had happened, as he continues to ‘haunt’ and pester the family about the ‘Scotty’ cake that they didn’t pick up for their dead child’s birthday. This suggest that before we know he didn’t know himself, that he could have been the driver- however we learn that he isn’t when he comforts the parents at the end.

After close reading, I soon came up with the idea that maybe the doctor was the killer. As the child has clearly entered a coma, the doctor refuses to call him that. He tells the parents that it cannot be a coma and that he will wake up. He is very persistent in telling them this and not telling them much about what is going on with their son. He conducts numerous tests on their son, but he still keeps them in the dark. This suggests that he was the one who ran the child over, and assumed he would be okay, which would surprise him when he is in hospital, unable to wake up.

I feel that Carver really gained an emotional response with this piece reflecting on the feelings of both the mother and father. The writer even focuses on the baker and how he reacts to the people not picking up the phone to how he reacts when he finds out about their child. I really think Carver used emotive language to draw you in, so you cannot put it down.

Overall, this is a brilliant short story with a very emotional feel. I was sad and intrigued when reading it, but it was good to get closure for the mother. Would definitely recommend this short, quick, interesting short story… or anything by Raymond Carver!