Nottingham Festival of Words

Nottingham is holding its second Festival of Words in October this year. It will be a celebration of the spoken and written word, as well as a key part of the city’s bid to become a UNESCO City of Literature. Only Norwich and Edinburgh hold that title in the UK so far, with Dublin as one of our close neighbours. 

In the run up to the Festival, we thought it would be fun, and interesting, to pass a blog baton around those who write within or around Nottingham or who have a connection of some kind with the area. It might be a pretty tenuous connection, but let’s just see where it goes! I’m going to start – and pass it on to:

Andrew Kells, fellow member of Nottingham Writers’ Studio, who writes tall and short stories for young and old readers…and …

Book blogger extraordinaire,  Pam McIlroy, otherwise known as PamReader (especially on Twitter where she is prolific, generous, friendly and knowledgable). Pam also hosts the Broadway book club, held at Nottingham’s well-known independent cinema of the same name.

What’s your connection with Nottingham and its written and spoken words?

I came to Nottingham as a student in 1983 – and never left! The city is a great place to live as it’s on a manageable scale whilst at the same time being big enough to attract more than enough performers, authors, musicians and other creative types so that there is always something interesting to see or do.

Whilst I have always enjoyed dabbling in writing, in recent years, I have taken it more seriously and I have been surprised and delighted with how much support I have had locally for this. I could not have had greater enthusiasm and support for things like book launches and talks from a wide variety of people and organisations in Nottingham.

And recently, through the books, my attention was drawn to the existence of Nottingham Writers’ Studio. I joined immediately as it came at exactly the right time for me. My writing so far has taken place on my own, and whilst I am very happy to do that, it feels good to be part of a creative community and to get the opportunity to spend time with other writers from a frankly quite bewildering range of genres and backgrounds.

And – one thing leads to another – so when I saw the opportunity come up to do the marketing and PR for the forthcoming Festival of Words, I thought, why not throw my hat into the ring? It’s not exactly in my main sphere of work but it was an exciting and interesting possibility, that would involve finding out even more about the creativity going on behind the scenes here on my doorstep, and meeting lots of people – and it’s proving to be just that. Say hello if you see me!

What do you love about Nottingham and its creative scene right now?

I am increasingly aware that there is LOADS going on in Nottingham, in all fields of creative work. Nottingham has long since had an international reputation for its design and textile work, including the lace industry, but now it is making real waves in music, film, writing, drama – you name it – as well. On the writing front, sometimes these things aren’t that obvious to the outside world, so what I love especially is the way this is gradually becoming more visible. With the support of great local institutions such as the Broadway Cinema and Nottingham Playhouse, as well as our bookshops and local press, the written word is being put out there – performed across the City and celebrated in writing courses and conferences and local events. The new very visible premises of the Writing Studio are part of that, as well as the Festival itself.

People and ideas seem to be connecting at a rapid rate right now – it feels as if Nottingham is a good place to be a writer, reader, or creative person of any sort.

How would you describe Nottingham to a visitor coming to the Festival of Words?

Vibrant, loud, grounded, rebellious, diverse, lively, welcoming. And with a lot to discover (including plenty of great coffee, which I feel is probably an essential part of reading, writing and creating!).