Literature, music, and conversation: The North West Literary Salon

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Once a month, literature majors and book enthusiasts alike gather together in Lancaster to listen as a selection of writers host dramatic readings and foster discussion. Co-created by Lancaster alumnae Yvonne Battle-Felton and Naomi Kruger whilst they studied at Lancaster University, the North West Literary Salon is funded by Lancaster University’s Graduate College, Alumni and friends of the university, and the Lancaster University Public Engagement with Research Leadership Group and began on the 18th May 2015.

One of the most exciting parts about the North West Literary Salon is that every author that speaks has some connection to the North West, from the university English Department’s own John Schad and Jenn Ashworth, to town resident Jo Baker, an international best-selling author, and lecturer Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, a Ugandan novelist. Some authors, like Baker, even read from their unpublished novels, giving participants an exciting look into what will be coming out before it’s even hit the shelves!

But the Literary Salon is not just about listening to readings; Baker discussed some of the challenges of becoming a full-time author, musician Joe Gardiner performed some of his own songs, and Makumbi gave advice on how to balance research and writing when it comes to a creative project. For those in attendance, each month brings a different conversation and a rotating crowd, ensuring that you will almost certainly meet new faces every time. The hope is that attendees will make new friends and perhaps even find a writing buddy with whom they can connect and both inspire and be inspired by.

In an interview with the Lancaster Guardian, co-founder of the Salon, Kruger, commented that the literary salon is meant to be ‘living authors telling stories and dramatically reading their work to engage an audience… The aim is to showcase all the exciting writing talent that exists and is emerging from across the North West.’

In fact, the work which Battle-Felton and Kruger have done to foster creativity within the community has led to an exciting new development; the North West Literary Salon has now been named a BBC Get Creative Champion. According to the BBC website, a Get Creative Champion runs regular cultural activities in the UK, and the goal is to showcase ‘the enormous range of diversity and creativity across the UK.’

The literary salon is also a part of Lancaster Arts City’s own First Fridays events, a ‘monthly multi-disciplinary mini-festival of the arts’ which occurs on the first Friday of each month. These events feature music, literature, drama, visual arts, cinema, and poetry, among other things. And if you’re quite keen on such events, Lancaster Arts City are looking for volunteer stewards, which you can find more information about on their website (artscity.co.uk).

If previous line-ups are anything to go by, attendees at the next literary salon are again in for a treat! This upcoming month will feature author George Green, who wrote Writing a Novel and Getting Published for Dummies and will certainly be able to answer any questions you may have about the publication process, and Paul Magrs, a Manchester-based writer who has worked on the Doctor Who books and audio stories and has previously taught creative writing.

If you’re thinking about getting in on this excellent adventure, be sure to visit Eventbrite and get your tickets as soon as possible (even though the event is free, you’ll need to pick up a ticket online) – the next salon is on the 6th November, and tickets are sure to go quickly! If you have any questions about the Salon, you can find them on Facebook at North West Literary Salon or via email at northwestliterarysalon@gmail.com.

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