Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Art and Poetry Collaboration

Creating Writing tutor and poet Jake Campbell is collaborating with visual artist Mike Corcoran on an exciting new project that links poems and images.

The collaboration was born out a shared interest in the stories with which we are raised, the environments which provide the setting, and how these stories and settings form an inextricable part of the people we become. The individual, their surroundings and the stories associated with these surroundings are interconnected: one cannot be fully understood, without reference to the other two.

For the project, each artist was invited to respond to the other’s work: Mike, to produce an artistic interpretation of Jake’s poem ‘Spelks’; and Jake, to produce a poetic response to Mike’s illustration, Bran. The project took each artist out of their comfort zone, no longer responding to their own environment and traditions, but to narratives and landscapes which they were encountering for the first time.

For further information, and to read/see the new pieces, go to:

Friday, 5 December 2014

The Best British Poetry 2014

Ian Seed’s poem ‘Prize-Giving’ has been selected for Salt’s anthology The Best British Poetry 2014.

For further information, go to: 

Friday, 28 November 2014

New Collection By Lecturer Ashley Chantler

Ashley Chantler has published a new collection of flashes (short-short stories) and poems, titled Love and Other Problems.

Ashley says: ‘I’ve been working with my colleague Peter Blair on a pamphlet/chapbook of flashes by David Swann, which will be the first publication by Flash: The International Short-Short Story Press (an off-shoot of Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine:, and I realised that I had written various pieces that would work together as a short collection, to be published as a pamphlet.’

Love and Other Problems can be purchased (for £3.00) from the English Departmental Office (in the Old Vicarage), University of Chester, or from Amazon:

New Translations of Jules Supervielle

Creative Writing lecturer Dr Ian Seed has published translations of five poems by Jules Supervielle (1884-1960) in The Fortnightly Review. For a short biography of Supervielle and to read ‘In a Foreign Country’, ‘Figures’, ‘Fish’, ‘A Poet’ and ‘He Alone’, go to:

Friday, 21 November 2014

Visit By Screenwriter Bill Gallagher

On 17 November 2014, students in the Department of English were treated to a talk, ‘The Craft of Screenwriting’, by Bill Gallagher. The event was organised by Dr Graham Atkin.

Bill’s television credits include: The Paradise (BBC1); The Prisoner (ITV); Love Life (ITV); Lark Rise to Candleford (BBC); Conviction (BBC; winner, Monte Carlo, Best European Drama Series); and Clocking Off (BBC; BAFTA nominated). His films include: The Partner (forthcoming); Blood (2012); and Hero Hour (2000). Bill has also had plays produced in theatres around the country.

At the talk, Bill stressed the need for writers to approach their work as a bricklayer might approach building a wall. Structure, he claimed, was the most important thing to get right. It is essential, in becoming a good writer, to be interested in your craft, said Bill. Though writing for the screen is not a science, but an art, it is an art with certain principles. Bill encouraged the writers present to interrogate their own work and always be asking themselves: How can I become a better writer? He encouraged his audience to find out who the writers are who work on the TV series or films they admire, and to study the work of those writers. One useful piece of advice was to start small and another was not to be afraid to show your work to others. Give yourself permission to write badly – after all, all writing is rewriting. Bill inverted the normal Q&A structure by asking members of the audience questions, such as: ‘What is plot?’ Through this strategy he delivered an inspiring account of the principles underpinning effective screenwriting. At the end of his talk there were some questions from the audience about the TV and film industries in which Bill works so successfully.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Twenty Must-Read Novels

Early in 2014 I invited colleagues across the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Chester to vote for their top twenty must-read novels. The results were collated, and then individuals agreed to write commendations for each of the books voted into our collective top twenty; their scholarly enthusiasm shines through on every page of this booklet. We also invited volunteers to produce ‘dissident’s choices’, for books that others might miss.

Any such list is bound to provoke debate. Perhaps we might produce additional lists of European, American and global authors, all of whom are massively underrepresented in the current list. We hope that our selection and advocacy might give you some useful starting points for exploring some of the greatest novels in the Western tradition. It may prompt you to return to an old favourite, or to discover outstanding work for the first time.

My thanks are due to all those who voted, and, in particular, to the tutors in the Department of English who made the time to write in critical admiration of their favourite novels: Professor Derek Alsop, Dr Ashley Chantler, Jen Davis, Dr Melissa Fegan, Dr Francesca Haig, Dr Sarah Heaton, Dr Ian Seed, Dr William Stephenson, Dr Alex Tankard, Professor Chris Walsh, Dr Sally West and Professor Deborah Wynne.

I hope these recommendations inspire you to a life enriched by great reading.

Professor Rob Warner
Faculty of Humanities
University of Chester

The Results

14th =
Albert Camus, The Outsider
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Cormac McCarthy, The Road
Ian McEwan, Atonement
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy

10th =
Franz Kafka, The Trial
Henry James, Portrait of a Lady
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

4th =
Jane Austen, Persuasion
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d’Urbervilles
Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

2nd =
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
James Joyce, Ulysses

1st =
George Eliot, Middlemarch

The booklet can be read here:

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Flash Fiction Competition

Can you write a short story exactly 150 words in length? Be inspired by authors such as David Gaffney! Email your entry to 31 October 2014 to be in with a chance of winning. 

Entries will be judged by Ashley Chantler and Peter Blair, editors of Flash: The International Short-Story Magazine and lecturers in the Department of English, University of Chester.

For more information please visit

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Flash, 7.1 (April 2014)

The twelfth issue of Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine is now available.

It features new stories from Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Ethiopia, France, India, Ireland, Sri Lanka, and the USA. It opens with the winner of the UK’s inaugural National Flash Fiction Youth Competition (2014), ‘Unborn’ by Seeun Choi, a talented A-level student at Cardiff Sixth Form College. The competition was organized by Flash and the Department of English, University of Chester; it was judged by the editors and leading flash-author David Gaffney. For further information and to read the two runners-up, see Flash’s website.

The issue’s ‘Flash Presents’ section contains four pieces – ‘A Harbinger’, ‘Doctor Chevalier’s Lie’, ‘Old Aunt Peggy’, and ‘Ripe Figs’ – by Kate Chopin (1850–1904), a writer of subtle and often poignant fiction set mostly in 1870s and 1880s Louisiana, in the post-Civil War American South.

In the third-ever ‘Flash Essay’, ‘Samuel Beckett’s Faint Fiction’, Tim Lawrence reminds us that the great playwright and novelist was also author of haunting, lyrical fragments that might best be regarded as flashes. Alongside the essay, ‘The Cliff’ is reprinted, translated from Beckett’s original French.

Flash Reviews’ ranges from the humorous (Flash Fiction Funny) to the serious (Flashes of War), the masculine (Beasts and Men) to the feminine (The Kind of Girl), and concludes with a novella-in-flashes (Liliane’s Balcony). Each review is accompanied by a sample story.

To order a copy of the issue, or to subscribe to the magazine, visit the website:



Tuesday, 25 March 2014

New Open-Mic Night in Chester

Third-year University of Chester Fine Art and English Literature student, Jack Few, is hosting a new open-mic night at a local cafe in town, Harvest Moon Espresso Bar (Northgate Street). The spirit of the night is to provide a platform for a variety of creative performances, whether you’re an acoustic musician, dramatist, or writer of poetry and short stories.

The launch will be on 6 April, 5.00-7.00 p.m. All welcome. Bring your own bottle.

For further details, the Facebook group is at:

Monday, 24 February 2014

Visit By Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy

On 12 February, GCSE students from Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy attended a creative writing workshop at the University, hosted by the Department of English.
Led by lecturer Dr Graham Atkin, the students completed an exercise called ‘The Character Box’, which helps budding dramatists and fiction writers think about how to create distinct and interesting characters.
Each student filled in a blank box template on a sheet of A4, responding to different prompts and questions from Graham about the character they are creating, such as: ‘Name, Age, and Gender’; ‘Worst Day’; and ‘Dream/Hope/Aspiration’. Having filled in the template and cut out and assembled the boxes, everyone had a rounded (albeit cuboid) character about whom a play or story could be written.



Monday, 6 January 2014

New E-Zine Founded By Creative Writing Student

Joe Pickard, a Creative Writing student in the English Department, has founded a new online magazine for poetry and short-short stories. The Alchemy of the Words is ‘dedicated to the promotion of unknown writers and unpublished writing’.

Submissions of poems and short-shorts of up to 300 words are welcome.

For further information, go to: