Thursday, 7 December 2017

Creative Writing Lecturer to be Surprise Guest Poet

Dr Ian Seed is very much looking forward to being a surprise guest poet at the Grange-Over-Sands Poetry Carousel Residential on Saturday, December 9.
As well as reading new poems, Ian will read from his books Makers of Empty Dreams and Identity Papers, and from his critically-acclaimed translations of the poetry of Pierre Reverdy.

To find out more, go to:

Friday, 1 December 2017

Inspiring Visit by Poet John Lindley

On Thursday 23rd November 2017, the poet John Lindley visited the Department to speak to students on An Introduction to Publishing, a second-year module convened by Dr Peter Blair. John, who has published nine collections of poetry, has a wealth of experience in getting published and in living as a writer engaged with the community. His many activities include stints as Cheshire Poet Laureate, as Manchester Cathedral Poet of the Year, and as a mentor on the British Council’s Crossing Borders project.

You can read more about John’s work here:

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Flash Fiction at the Chester Literature Festival

On Friday 17th November 2017, Peter Blair gave an entertaining and informative talk on flash fiction at the Chester Literature Festival.  The event was held at Storyhouse, and was attended by an audience of 60.

Peter is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Chester. He and his colleague Ashley Chantler are co-editors of Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, and co-directors of the International Flash Fiction Association (IFFA): and

Monday, 13 November 2017

Uni at the Fest: Peter Blair on Flash Fiction

This Friday (17th November) at 6pm, Peter Blair will be giving a talk on flash fiction at Storyhouse, as part of the Chester Literature Festival.
Every year, Chester Literature Festival welcomes lecturers from the University of Chester who share their expertise in a series of popular free talks.

This illustrated talk will introduce the meteoric rise of the contemporary flash, its many varieties, and the myriad names by which it is known. It will consider definitions of flash fiction, including identification by word count and formal characteristics. And it will explore humorous examples to illuminate how little stories can resonate long after their last words.

The event is free, but you’ll need to book online:

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Poet Carole Coates Runs Seminar with University of Chester Creative Writing Students

Students on the course Poetry: Other Voices, Other Forms were treated to a seminar with poet and workshop leader Carole Coates. 

Carole asked the students about their own creative work and interests, read from her books of narrative poetry, Jacob and Swallowing Stones, discussed the techniques used in the poems, took a number of questions, led the students through a series of writing exercises, and gave out some top tips for writing narrative poetry. These tips included: 

1. You can find material for writing narrative poetry anywhere and everywhere, for example in history, myths, films, real stories and even TV series.  Take ideas from wherever you can.

2. Convey emotions, for example loss, through showing the emotion in concrete detail rather than stating it.

3. Use short lines to emphasise details.

4. Use space on the page to create shapes in the text to reflect and evoke emotion and atmosphere, if this will enhance the reader experience.

5. For poetry which tells a story from another time, be prepared to do the research to find out in concrete detail what life was like at that time.

6. Consider the best narrative point of view for your character, for example the ‘restricted omniscient’ point of view in Jacob.

7. Making lists can be useful for creating material to draw upon for your poem.

8. Use the narrative poem to explore other voices than your own. This can be quite liberating.

9. Use your poem to show a story through flashes of light. You do not need to bother with all the descriptions of a novel, but the detail you do use should have a high degree of concentration and emotional charge.

Carole Coates is the author of four collections, all published by Shoestring. The last two – Swallowing Stones, 2012, and Jacob, 2016 are narrative poems. Jacob has been described by Carol Ann Duffy as ‘an extraordinarily riveting narrative poem on the pain of childhood and its long reach, written with forensic care and heart-stopping empathy’. She also has a pamphlet Crazy Days ( Wayleave 2014 ) and has been published regularly in the literary press. Her poem ‘Daughters’ is in The Forward Book of Poetry 2006 and she has been placed in major competitions such as The Peterloo and the Arvon. She has just won second prize in The Mslexia Poetry Competition. You can find out more at .
The visit was organised by Dr Ian Seed.  
Photography: Jan Gibson    

Friday, 27 October 2017

University of Chester Creative Writing Student Launches New Magazine

Third-year Creative Writing, Literature and Politics student, Joshua Cialis, has launched Foxtrot Uniform, a new poetry and prose magazine, inspired by the example of the Beat poets to publish writing which, as the editorial states, ‘forces us to question the way in which we live and write’. As Joshua goes on to say in his ‘Letter from the Editor’, ‘the publication of this magazine crosses form, crosses politics, and crosses the ideas of individual minds’.

Students Reece David Merrifield, Holly Royle and Jade Wolf join Joshua on the editorial board. 

To find out more, go to  

If you would like to submit  your poetry and prose, please email  

You can follow Foxtrot Uniform on Twitter @_FoxtrotUniform

Posted by Dr Ian Seed

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Creative Writing Lecturer's Story Included in The Best Small Fictions 2017

Programme Leader and Creative Writing Lecturer, Dr Ian Seed, is delighted that one of his short-short stories has been published in the international anthology The Best Small Fictions 2017, published by Braddock Avenue Books. The story was taken from Ian’s book, Identity Papers  (Shearsman, 2016).

The anthology includes Pamela Painter, Brian Doyle, Frankie McMillan, Karen Brennan, Stuart Dybek, Robert Scotellaro, and W. Todd Kaneko, and spotlights Joy Williams and SmokeLong Quarterly.

Further details can be found here and here.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Creative Writing Lecturer wins Above and Beyond Award in the Category of 'Most Helpful Feedback'.

Programme Leader and Creative Writing Lecturer, Dr Ian Seed, is delighted to receive the Above and Beyond Award  for ‘Most Helpful Feedback’.

Student comments included: ‘Ian gives very helpful, honest feedback, being both positive and critical in his comments. His feedback has helped me and other students to improve our work dramatically.’
The Above and Beyond Awards allow ‘students to applaud those that have made their university experience the best it can be’ (Ethan Wade, Vice President of Student Union Activities).

Monday, 15 May 2017

Pandora's Box Launch May 2017

With the sunlight streaming in through the windows, Pandora’s Box 2017, featuring some of the best creative writing by students and staff, was launched in front of a live audience. The evening was brilliantly organised by the three student editors Cal Buckley, Jonathan Hay,  and Liz Milne.
This year, thanks to an award from the NSS (National Student Survey), we were able to announce well-deserved prizes in the form of book tokens to students from the Department of English. 
The winners are as follows:
Pandora’s Box Poetry Competition
First Prize: £150 to Courtney Thomas for ‘Little Tucker’
Second Prize: £100 to Sarah Kissack for ‘An Ode to Tinder’
Third Prize: £75 to Sheila Jones for ‘Ten Little Soldier Boys’
Pandora’s Box Flash Fiction Competition
First Prize: £150 to Natalie Webster for ‘Old Dog, New Tricks’
Second Prize: £100 to Rebecca Metcalfe for ‘Manor Park’
Third Prize: £75 to Alex Robinson for ‘The Godfather’
Pandora’s Box authors
£10 prize to all student authors included in Pandora’s Box.
Many congratulations from the Pandora’s Box Editing Team!
For information about Pandora’s Box: 

For details about the English Department and the BA Creative Writing: 

Dr Ian Seed


Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Creative Writing Lecturer's Translation Longlisted for the Best Translated Book Award 2017

The Thief of Talant, the first translation into English of Pierre Reverdy’s Le Voleur de Talan, has been longlisted for the prestigious Best Translated Book Award for Poetry 2017.

For further information, click here. 
Dr Ian Seed is delighted to be nominated for the BTBA. He believes that translation is one of the best ways to learn the craft of creative writing. It challenges us to consider the ways in which we can shape language for best effect.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Creative Writing Students Get Writing and Publishing Tips from Prize-Winning Poet, William Stephenson

Creative Writing students on the Writing Poetry for Publication module were treated to a seminar with prize-winning poet, William Stephenson.

William told the story of his own road to publication through poetry competitions, literary magazines and pamphlets. He read from his collections and took questions from the students, before going on to give a number of top tips:

  •          magazines are a good place to start: do your research first (there is an excellent selection of magazines in the University of Chester library), and then send out your best work to those magazines which are most suitable to your style of writing, making sure that you read the magazine’s submission guidelines carefully;
  •          keep track of the places where you send your work with a table or spreadsheet;
  •         expect a ratio of several rejections for every acceptance – do not be discouraged by rejections: persist;
  •          in terms of putting together a collection, get feedback from your peers, use your best poems, then decide on an order linked to theme;
  •          when it comes to writing be adventurous with language – you must go beyond the merely ‘poetic’;
  •         don’t be afraid to make use of other kinds of language, such as scientific and technical terminology, which reflects the world we live in;
  •          internal rhyme and half-rhyme can help build tension and momentum, and can be subtly more effective than end-rhyme;
  •          don’t be afraid of writing garbage; you may have to write plenty of this in order to eventually find a voice which is original and interesting (this is better than trying to be ‘original’ for the sake of it);

William’s poems have appeared in Envoi, Iota, Magma, Orbis, The North and The Rialto.  His first collection Travellers and Avatars was shortlisted for the Live Canon First Collection Prize and will appear in 2017.  His pamphlets are Rain Dancers in the Data Cloud (Templar, 2012) and Source Code (Ravenglass, 2013).

The seminar was organised by Dr Ian Seed.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Dr Ashley Chantler and Dr Peter Blair to give talk at the Bath Flash Fiction Festival

As editors of  Flash: The International Short-Story Magazine, Ashley and Peter will be giving a talk and Q&A session at this year's Flash Fiction Festival, giving tips on how to submit your Flashes.
This will be at the first literary festival in the UK entirely devoted to Flash Fiction and welcomes novice and experienced writers who want to learn more about flash fiction.
Happening on the weekend of National Flash Fiction Day UK 2017, the first festival will be taking place in Bath, at the New Oriel Hall.  The programme runs from Saturday 24th to Sunday 25th of June, and more information can be found on the Festival website here:

Friday, 17 February 2017

Creative Writing Students Enjoy Seminars with Visiting Poet Jeremy Over

Creative Writing students on the courses Poetry: Other Voices, Other Forms and Writing Poetry for Publication enjoyed two workshops with poet Jeremy Over.
Jeremy ran a series of weird and wonderful writing exercises based on listening to music and use of collage, before talking about his own work and taking questions from the students.
Some comments and top tips offered by Jeremy for writing poetry: ‘Don’t be afraid to veer off into strange territory’; ‘play with other voices besides your own;’ ‘go with the strengths of your writing, but be prepared to experiment with ways of writing you do not feel so comfortable with’; ‘have fun with chipping away at the marble of your writing and seeing your poems take shape as you redraft them’; ‘remember there’s more than one way of coming to a poem’; and ‘play around and distract yourself so that different, unexpected things can creep into your poems’.
When asked whether he preferred composing with a pen or on the computer, Jeremy replied that he worked best when writing first with a pencil. ‘This feels less final and so allows for more open-mindedness to revision, rather than being satisfied with a poem simply because it looks good when typed up.’
Jeremy Over has published two collections of poetry, both with Carcanet: A Little Bit of Bread and No Cheese (2001) and Deceiving Wild Creatures (2009). A third collection is forthcoming in 2018.
The visits were organised by Dr Ian Seed.

'Crafting Flash Fiction' Workshop

Drs Peter Blair and Ashley Chantler gave a ‘Crafting Flash Fiction’ workshop for The Friends of the Chester Literature Festival at The Little Theatre on 16 February 2017.
They spoke briefly about their work for the International Flash Fiction Association (IFFA), read out an exemplary flash (‘Tracks’, by David Swann), a ‘flash flop’ (by Anon) and their ‘Dos and Don’ts’, then set several exercises:
  • Write the opening of a flash that hooks the reader.
  • Write an interesting description of a character.
  • Write a sentence about a setting that intrigues the reader.
  • Write a drabble (a flash that is exactly 100 words) that perhaps draws on the first three exercises.
Peter and Ashley were very impressed with the writing, especially the pieces that focused on small details.
For information about The Little Theatre:

New Creative Writing Posted on Pandora's Inbox

New poems by BA Creative Writing student Sarah Kissack and new flashes by students Rebecca Metcalfe and Bjorn Ephgrave are now available at Pandora’s Inbox.

Pandora’s Inbox is the online home of Pandora’s Box. It publishes students’ and staff’s creative writing throughout the academic year. The best writing from the Inbox is selected for publication in the A5 magazine Pandora’s Box.

The Inbox and Box have published a wide range of poems, flashes and short stories. Several of the student authors have gone on to do the English Department’s MA Creative Writing, and to publish their work elsewhere.

Friday, 3 February 2017

New poem published by former Creative Writing student, Jake Campbell

Former University of Chester Creative Writing student Jake Campbell has a new poem in the online magazine MISO, edited by Caroline Jones. To read Jake’s poem and other creative writing of exceptionally high quality, go to
Jake’s latest pamphlet, The Coast Will Wait Behind You, was published by Art Editions North in 2015.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Another Great Open-Mic Night at Chester University


The English Department had another thoroughly enjoyable open-mic night, on 30 January, hosted brilliantly by BA students and Pandora’s Box editors Liz Milne, Jonathan Hay and Cal Buckley.

A wide range of poems and flash fictions were read out: comical, absurd, dark, weird, political, satirical, tender, heartfelt, and thought-provoking. Donald Trump and certain men would have been squirming in their seats. 

A number of prizes were awarded: Jordan Fleming won for the best overall performance; Natalie Webster won for the best impromptu poem or flash; and George Hill and Luke Cheadle won for the funniest piece. 

Thanks to Liz Milne for the photos. To see more, go to:

For information about Pandora’s Box:

For details about the English Department and the BA Creative Writing:

Dr Ashley Chantler

Friday, 27 January 2017

A Seminar with Poet John Lindley

John Lindley, author of nine poetry collections, gave a talk to second-year Creative Writing students taking the module An Introduction to Publishing, run by Dr Peter Blair.  

John, who has been Cheshire Poet Laureate and Manchester Cathedral Poet of the Year, shared his wealth of experience in getting poetry published and working as a writer in the community. 

You can read about John’s work on his blog:

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Flash fiction at Verbose

Drs Peter Blair and Ashley Chantler (above left and right) and author David Swann (middle) were ‘headliners’ at the Verbose ‘Live Literature’ night in Manchester on 23 January 2017.

Peter read a selection of flashes from Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, Ashley read from his work-in-progress collection, and David chose a range from his chapbook Stronger Faster Shorter: Flash Fictions.

For more information about Flash:

If you are interested in Stronger Faster Shorter:

Verbose’s Facebook group is:

Friday, 6 January 2017

Literary Journal Edited by Former Creative Writing Student Caroline Jones

The literary journal MISO is edited by Caroline Jones. She founded the journal after graduating from her MA in Creative Writing, University of Chester in 2012. MISO was established in July 2013 as a platform to encourage creative writing students and graduates. The original journal was printed twice a year. MISO is now a carefully curated blog. You can contact MISO via or via twitter with any queries.
Recent work includes contributions by Rachel Allen, Libby Meredith, Dan Ryder, Sam Buchan-Watts and Martha Sprackland. Just posted on MISO is a flash essay, ‘Another Country’, by Creative Writing lecturer, Dr Ian Seed.