I attended lots of events that ran as part of the recent Literary Leicester Festival, but one of the most memorable for me was the showcase for Creative Writing students. Usually, as students listening to each others’ work, we are in a forum where commentary and critique are required. It’s quite rare to get a chance to listen and absorb peers’ work, without that requirement. For recently enrolled MA, PhD and BA students, working on our research through the pandemic, there hasn’t been the opportunity for any networking offline for ages, so there was a bit of a ‘school’s out’ atmosphere.
Ten writers, poets, storytellers and novelists chose extracts or short works not necessarily connected with their current projects and read them aloud to an audience of peers and their guests. Some were published, some not. The main objective was to choose something you liked that you’d written yourself, and read it aloud to a roomful of near strangers. While some readers confessed to feeling nervous, the event wasn’t billed as a performance, and most if not all of us read off the page. There was a feeling that it was a positive opportunity. Hopefully the listeners enjoyed it as much as the readers; they seemed to, judging by the applause and the buzz of conversation afterwards.
There is a simple pleasure in sharing work with an attentive, mutually supportive audience, and this is enhanced in the experience of hearing your own words aloud. You get that ‘leap off the page,’ that is so empowering when you’ve spent a lot of working time in a quiet place, on your own, perhaps feeling quite unsure that what you’ve done has any potential, let alone any significance.
So … Please can we do it again!
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