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Pens and imaginations at the ready…


It’s been really great to meet you prospective English and Creative Writing students at our recent Open Days! Can’t quite believe September is here already…

Your Creative Writing tutors here at Bolton – Mary Cooper, Simon Holloway, Ed Jones and me; see the ‘About Us’ section for more info – are looking forward to welcoming you, whether you’re a new student or a returning one.

Here’s to 2016-17 being a happy and successful year for you and your writing.


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Graduation 2016


So today we have to say a warm farewell to another year’s graduands…

Congratulations on your wonderful achievements, Cath, Louise, Alan, Ally, Jade, Fiona, Anthony, Brian, Leah, Ruth-anne, Craig, James, Krysta and Louise – good luck with all you do in the future, and come back and see us sometime…the kettle’s always on!

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Mario Petrucci Masterclass

We’re indebted to the wonderful poet Mario Petrucci for coming to Bolton this week to deliver his 16 Ways into Writing workshop to students from across our degrees.

As comprehensive as it is unique, the 16 Ways offers a hands-on exploration of the major pathways into writing, including everything from the ‘found text’ to Larkin’s pickles.  Mario’s immense experience fueled a groundbreaking masterclass on compositional process, generating a workshop experience of immense variety and enduring value for all participants.

MarioPetrucci-MarishaHorsman-2016-croppedMario is four times winner of the London Writers competition, has won prizes in the National Poetry Competition, and is recipient of a PBS Recommendation, the Bridport Prize, an Arts Council England Writers’ Award and a New London Writers Award. His Arvon-winning collection Heavy Water: a poem for Chernobyl, was the basis of a film by Seventh Art Productions. His latest collection is i tulips, a 1,111-strong sequence merging American modernism and British voices. Shortlisted for the 2012 Ted Hughes award, his Tales from the Bridge was the world’s largest 3D poetry soundscape and a centrepiece of the London Cultural Olympiad.

All of which makes his willingness to come and work so closely with our students all the more gratifying: the precision, inspiration and eagerness he engenders in our work should be held dearly – or, as he put it yesterday, “If you can spend more time at the threshold, and be active there, the writing will happen.”

Thanks, Mario – an honour.

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The Bolton Review – Launch

BR4 launchBe one of the first to get your hands on a copy of Issue Four of The Bolton Review at a special launch party this Wednesday (27 April 2016).

The free event, with drinks and nibbles, will be at 5pm in the University of Bolton’s prestigious law court, Senate House, with readings by the published writers, plus the announcement of winner and runners-up in The Deana Morris Prize for Fiction.

The Bolton Review has had a makeover for this issue, entitled Photographs & Falcons. As is Review tradition, two of the words from the accepted submissions create the edition’s title. Previous issues have been called Whiskey & Donuts, Vodka & Sand and ABCs & Coffee Beans.

Fiction, poetry, scripts, essays and critical articles were all considered for inclusion and writers from the University and local colleges were invited to submit their work. This year’s Review, edited by University of Bolton Creative Writing undergraduate Louise Wilkes and executive editor and Creative Writing lecturer Dr Simon Holloway, has an ISSN number and an increased pagination, reflecting its growing success.Bolton Review 4 logoThe second Deana Morris Prize for Fiction, run in conjunction with The Bolton Review, was judged by journalist and University Communications Manager Deana Morris, award-winning writer and University Publications Officer Sarah-Clare Conlon and author Dr Simon Holloway, from the University’s Creative Writing department. Submissions on the theme of ‘space’ were invited from all University of Bolton students, staff and alumni, regardless of subject or department.

Following the launch of The Bolton Review and prize-giving ceremony, Creative Writing students and staff will be moving on to the Octagon Theatre, Bolton for this year’s Creative Writing Showcase. This will take place Wednesday 27 and also on Thursday 28 April, both offering an evening of poetry, fiction and drama. Tickets are £3 in advance – email CLS1AMT@bolton.ac.uk – and £5 on the door, and the price includes refreshments.

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University of Bolton creative writers at Verbose, April 25th

Live literature night Verbose is back a week today on Monday 25 April, featuring special guests plus the usual open mic of prose and poetry performances. Verbose, hailed in the press as one of the best spoken word nights in Manchester, each month invites three headliners who collaborate or share a common thread.

This month’s guests work or have worked at the University of Bolton, in the English & Creative Writing department. We’ll be hearing from Bolton tutors, past and present, Anne Caldwell, Simon Holloway and Evan Jones. We’ll also have a sneak preview of some of the work published in The Bolton Review, issue four of which is being officially launched on Wednesday 27 April.


Anne Caldwell was until recently a lecturer at the University of Bolton and is now Poet and Literature Programme Manager for The British Council. She was long-listed for the National Poetry Competition in 2015 and her latest collection, Painting The Spiral Staircase, has just come out on Cinnamon Press to critical acclaim. Simon Holloway is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Bolton and a novelist, short story writer and still occasionally a poet. His short fiction has been published in places such as Stand, New Contrast, New Writing and The North American Review. His latest novel is The Words We Use are Black and White. Canadian poet Evan Jones has published two collections of poetry with Carcanet Press, the most recent of which is Paralogues (2012). He has lived in Manchester since 2005 and teaches at the University of Bolton.

Another nine published and up-and-coming poets and prose writers will also perform.

Since being relaunched in January 2015 by Sarah-Clare Conlon, Verbose has welcomed such luminaries of the North West literature scene as Jenn Ashworth, Elizabeth Baines, Sarah Butler, Aisla Cox, James Davies, David Gaffney, Jim Hinks, Sarah Jasmon, Tom Jenks, John McAuliffe, Ian McGuire, Fat Roland, Nicholas Royle, John D Rutter, Geoff Ryman, Graeme Shimmin, Scott Thurston and Emma Jane Unsworth. Man Booker Prize shortlisted author Alison Moore has also read.

Taking place on the fourth Monday of the month at Fallow café in Fallowfield (2a Landcross Road, M14 6NA), Verbose is free entry and doors are at 7.30pm. See http://verbosemcr.wordpress.com. For the open mic, email verbosemcr@gmail.com. The next Verbose will be on Monday 23 May, then Monday 27 June.

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Creative writing students have been offered a fantastic opportunity to see ground-breaking music theatre in the making. All students are invited to attend an open rehearsal of #ChipShoptheMusical- with the emphasis on music – on Friday next week, April 22nd at 4pm. The show produced by Freedom Studios and the Bolton Octagon Theatre is staged in a chip shop and will feature both grime and brass band music . After opening at Bolton it will tour chip shops nationally.
The rehearsals will show Grime MC Coco and DJ Jo Kira working with the actors and afterwards students will have a chance to meet the cast and ask questions about the production and rehearsal process.  Students are also invited to attend the Dress Rehearsal of #Chip ShopThe Musical at the Olympus Fish and Chip Restaurant, Bolton on Tuesday, May 10th.


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Live Literature – Anne Caldwell and Alison Down

Tuesday, 12th April, The Octagon, Bolton

Poetry, Film Shorts and Open Mic 

AnneCaldwellAnne Caldwell was a lecturer at the University of Bolton and now works for the British Council. She will be launching her new collection of poetry – Painting the Spiral Staircase. (Cinnamon Press). This is her fourth collection and features poems set in Berlin and Aberdeen written in response to a family archive of photographs as well as poems which celebrate the north, love, sex and the aging process with a sense of wit and humour. Anne’s poetry was long-listed for the National Poetry Competition in 2015 and has been published in three collections of work in the UK and Australia.

Welcome back, Anne!


Alison Down is a writer and deviser with a AlisonDownbackground in award winning community theatre and education. She writes for screen, theatre and spoken word, specialising in work for children and young people. Her BIFA nominated short film Flight won Best Film in The Bucharest International Film Festival and toured internationally. In Sept 2014, Alison was a finalist in BAFTA Rocliffe’s Children’s Forum and was selected to attend MipComJnr to pitch her family feature, Dai The Voice. This script also made the final selection of BBC Writersroom Scriptroom in 2013. Alison has been mentored by leading children’s playwright, Mike Kenny, and film producer Caroline Cooper Charles (North West Vision Film +Media/Creative England). She was chosen to be part of Creative England’s Talent Centre (Sheffield) and their six month feature film training programme. ‘Making the Leap’. Alison was a finalist in Kitson Management’s New Dramatists Scheme last year, and is now represented by Jean Kitson. She is presently working on an animation, The Highly Unlikely Adventures of Princess Mim.


Open Mic: There will be an opportunity for local writers and students to read their work in the second half of this event. Please come and be brave. You can sign up on the night.  

The event is from 7.00-9.00, Tuesday, 12th April, at The Octagon, Bolton BL1 1SB. Tickets are £5/£2