It’s officially my last week as a Solent English student. How did that happen? It really doesn’t seem that long ago that my step-mum railroaded me into visiting my “fallback” university, just in case I messed up. Well, I didn’t mess up. I exceeded everyone’s expectations, including my own, but I still ended up at Solent. From the moment I walked through the door, I felt a buzz that I was starting to think didn’t exist at university. This only grew when meeting the course leader, Devon Campbell-Hall, her enthusiasm like a swarm of literary bees. But now, I am finishing off my last two assignments, and on Friday I will hand them in, and take my first steps into the big, bad world.
I took some time out from the chaos of essay writing on Monday, to attend the SO:Write Showcase, an event that advertised the presence of diverse and talented writers, who were going to share their work and then have a Q&A session after. The best part of all? It was completely free.
First up was Susmita Bhattacharya, a Winchester-based novelist who read from her book, The Normal State of Mind. Susmita also runs the SO:Write Young Writers workshops at The Mayflower Theatre. Her reading was emotionally charged, and I think shocked everyone in the audience. You could hear a pin drop, everyone was so moved by Susmita’s portrayal of losing a loved one to bombing.
Next, was Joanna Barnard. A Surrey-based novelist, Joanna won the Bath Novel Award with her book Precocious. Joanna read from this book, as well as her new novel, Hush Little Baby. Joanna read several passages, all giving us short, sharp insights into her characters and giving us tiny pieces of plot puzzles, leaving us all guessing how they fitted in to her stories.
Last, but certainly not least, was Theresa Lola. Theresa was the National Slam Champ for Hammer and Tongue, and read out some of her poems from her upcoming manuscript. Her work covered topics from hip-hop to dementia, and she painted a picture for us with every poem she read, her passion expressed in every word.
Then was the Q&A. The writers began by talking amongst themselves, comparing their journeys and processes; the pros and cons of having an agent, how to get over writer’s block, and how publishing poetry differed to prose. Quickly, enthusiastic members of the audience chipped in, eager to ask their questions. This could easily have become a detached game of verbal tennis, but actually became very conversational, questions flowing, with fantastic, detailed answers from each of the writers. Some audience members even expressed their interest in attending Joanna’s writing workshop, SO:Write Women.
Overall, this was a fantastic event. My only criticism is that it didn’t last long enough. But I’m sure that won’t stop anyone who attended from going away and using what they learned from these three women in their writing. I know I certainly came back home and managed to write a new poem, despite over a month of writer’s block (plus uni deadlines getting in the way).
If you would like to see what other events ArtfulScribe are hosting, visit their website or Facebook. If you would like to find out more about SO:Write Women, click here. If you would like to find out more about SO:Write Young Writers, click here. If you are a budding performance poet, and would like to follow in Theresa Lola’s footsteps, visit the Southampton Hammer and Tongue website, Facebook or Twitter.