Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Poetry Prizes and Publications for Lecturer William Stephenson


Dr William Stephenson (Reader in English Literature) is about to celebrate the launch of his second short poetry collection, after winning two poetry competitions in 2012. He was a winner of the Iota Shots Awards 2012, which led to the pamphlet of 16 poems, Rain Dancers in the Data Cloud (out now on Templar Poetry, and available in the campus bookshop) and the Ravenglass Poetry Prize 2012 (judged by Don Paterson), which led to the short collection of 24 poems Source Code (available in March / April from Ravenglass Poetry Press via Amazon).  William notes: ‘I guess collections are like the proverbial London buses; you wait for years and then two come along at once…’

William began writing in the mid-1980s, and as an undergraduate at Cambridge he joined 'Virtue Without Terror' a workshop group that included some future bestselling writers; Joseph O'Neill (who would go on to write Netherland), Edmund de Waal (author of the The Hare with The Amber Eyes) and Joel Lane (who has published novels, and three collections of poetry with Arc).  While still a student, he published poetry in some magazines, including Iron and one of the earliest issues of The Rialto

After years of focusing on academic publications, in 2007 Will decided to throw himself back into poetry, and has shared some of the details of his writing and publishing process:

I set up a strict training regime of reading the poetry of X then writing in their style, having already decided that a novel - at this stage - was too big a gamble with my time. 

I managed to start publishing in magazines from 2009, when I got my first acceptance from Envoi, after a string of the usual rejections; since then I've been fortunate enough to get into Anon, Iota, The North, The Rialto and other magazines  In about 2011 I thought I was ready to enter competitions, and decided to aim for those where books, rather than money, were the prizes (on the theory that competitions with big cash prizes would attract established poets who already had several books out, but these same established figures perhaps wouldn't necessarily enter competitions to publish more books).

I was lucky enough to win the first two such competitions I entered. 

William mainly teaches English Literature, but his recent success has led him to get more involved in the Creative Writing programme, and he has taken several sessions with final year poetry students to discuss his writing and publication experiences.

Fans of William’s poetry have more to look forward to: ‘I'm currently working on a full length collection, but this is going to take a long time.’

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The ninth issue of Flash

The ninth issue of Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine is now available. It contains over 40 short-shorts, a 'flash' essay, and reviews of recent flash-fiction anthologies and collections.
For more information and to order a copy, go to:

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

A Year of Publications and Projects for Former Students

2012 has seen more success and publications for Creative Writing graduate Jake Campbell, including the publication of his first book.

Jake studied Creative Writing with English at Chester, and after graduating in 2009 went on to do our Creative Writing MA. Since then, Jake has achieved a great deal of success with his poetry.

In 2011 he was awarded the £1,000 Andrew Waterhouse Award for his poetry by New Writing North. He was also invited to take part in a professional development course for poets led by the writer Clare Pollard.

His writing has been published in a number of literary journals, and 2012 saw the publication of Jake’s first book, the poetry pamphlet Definitions of Distance (Red Squirrel Press). Jake is also one of the founders of a new poetry journal, Butcher’s Dog.

Jake has just embarked on an exciting new placement. Working with Changemakers, a national youth leadership charity, and New Writing North, Jake will be developing a new, youth-led creative writing project which seeks to document the opinions, concerns and frustrations of various young people in Tyneside and Northumberland. This is particularly relevant to Jake, whose writing has always been heavily influenced by a sense of place, and by his North Eastern roots. In a glowing review of Jake’s book on the National Association of Writers in Education website, Nathan Ouriach writes: ‘Jake Campbell tracks the geographic and psychic space that has surrounded him his entire life and seeks to articulate all of its endearing intricacies. Campbell candidly poeticizes his Northeast and suffuses the minor moments of life with acute thematic depth.’

Jake says: "The groundwork for all of these achievements was laid when I was studying at Chester. I learned invaluable skills for writing striking, contemporary prose and poetry; how the greats have done it, and how I might continue those traditions in the 21st century. I continued to hone my skills during my MA year, in which the support of my colleagues and tutors gave me the information I needed, as well as the enthusiasm, to begin writing seriously. In short, studying at Chester was a vital catalyst for my own work; one which I will carry with me well into the future."

Major Prize Success for One of our Current Students!

Hannah Riordan, currently in the second year of her Creative Writing and English degree, has just been announced as one of the four prizewinners in the 2012 Cheshire Prize for Literature.

Hannah was awarded Highly Commended in this prestigious competition. The High Sherriff’s Cheshire Prize for Literature, with prize money of almost £3,000, is one of the region’s major literary events. At the prizegiving ceremony on Tuesday 4th December, Hannah was awarded with her prize by guest speaker Lloyd Grossman, and William Lees-Jones, the High Sheriff of Cheshire.

Hannah says her studies at Chester have played a huge part in the development of her writing: "Studying Creative Writing at University has helped my writing beyond measure; not only from a technical perspective, but my confidence in my skills too. Getting a Highly Commended from the Cheshire Prize this year has been utterly unbelievable, especially since this time last year I wouldn't even have dreamed of entering!"

Student Editors Select Work for Publication

A group of student editors is beginning the difficult task of selecting work for Pandora's Box, the University's creative writing magazine. Pandora’s Box publishes the best poetry and prose by students and staff at the University. The latest batch of submissions for the magazine has just come in, and the editorial team is hard at work selecting the most striking pieces for publication.

Pandora’s Box publishes the best poetry and prose by students and staff at the University. The latest batch of submissions for the magazine has just come in, and the editorial team is hard at work selecting the most striking pieces for publication.

The magazine Pandora’s Box has been published annually since 2003, and in 2010 the website, Pandora’s Inbox, was established allowing even more student work to be published.

Each year a small group of final-year students works with the General Editor, Dr Francesca Haig, to run the magazine, website and open-mic nights. This year’s student editors are Joanne Durber, Ally Little, Richard Rintoul and Nancy Sandlands. The team chooses the pieces for publication, a job that often leads to spirited debate at editorial meetings!

As well as providing students with the opportunity to see their work published, Pandora’s Box also provides invaluable experience for the student editorial team. Jenny Gray, one of last year’s student editors, notes how much she gained from her involvement:

I learned so much from the experience of co-editing Pandora's Box. […] Working on the Pandora's Box team made me feel I had an active role in the Department of English and it was an incredibly fulfilling role. Certainly my own poetry has improved from the experience and I have made many lasting friendships."

Former editors have maintained their passion for publishing and editing. For example, Ruth Fielder (editor in 2010-11) went on to do an MA in Publishing and Editing, and now works full-time at Oxford University Press.