One of the topics I’ve been meaning to blog about for ages is the amazing literary scene going on in Leeds at the moment. There are so many different festivals and workshops taking place that I’ve been quite overwhelmed and instead of just cracking on and writing about them, I’ve been putting it off. This is not The Right Attitude. So here I am finally blogging about one of them. I’m going to start with Fictions of Every Kind as I went to their most recent event just this week and it was a great evening.
Fictions of Every Kind is a “spoken word night and writers’ social with a DIY ethic.” It’s a non-profit literary social run by volunteers, held quarterly at Wharf Chambers, with the aim of encouraging and supporting writers.
I went for the first time back in February to hear Naomi Booth read from her fantastic but disturbing novel “Sealed.” (Dedicated readers of my blog *ahem* may remember that I also went to hear Naomi read at the wonderful Leeds Library, where she read an extract from her novella “The Lost Art of Sinking“.)
The night follows a similar pattern each time. It’s just £3 entry and there’s a house band who play at various intervals throughout the evening, an open mic session, and then one or two invited speakers. Both the open mic participants and speakers can read either their poetry or fiction (there’s a time limit of five minutes per person during the open mic part of the night). You sign up on the door when you arrive if you’d like to read your work, although make sure you get there on time if you do want to read as there are only 10 slots available. Each night is themed as well, although it doesn’t matter too much if you don’t follow that month’s theme.
Like with a musical open mic night, there are various different styles and standards. I say that not to dismiss anyone, but to encourage any writers out there who’d like to give it a try but worry about not being good enough.
I decided to be brave (foolhardy?) at this week’s Fictions Of Every Kind night and read three short poems I’d written about motherhood. I spent a good half hour just before the event with my patient friend, weighing up the pros and cons of reading, swinging between “go on, yes I will do it” and “no, absolutely not, I’m not sure why I ever thought it might be a good idea.”
Even though I was definitely the newbie amateur of the night, I still really enjoyed reading my poems out loud (it was surprisingly cathartic) and I would encourage anyone who’s currently writing prose or poetry and wants to test out their material to give it a go.
If, like I was, you’re umm-ing and ahh-ing about whether you should do it, here are some reasons you should give it a try:
- The audience is very welcoming; no one goes to these kind of events just to judge others
- Yes not everyone will love your work, but some people might. Not everyone likes Harry Potter (heathens!) but that doesn’t stop JK Rowling from sleeping at night
- Hearing yourself read out loud to strangers makes you realise what you do and don’t like about your work
- It might spark some good conversations afterwards and it’s even better if someone tells you they like what you read. There’s nothing quite like a compliment to keep you motivated.
- You can be proud of yourself for trying something new. *Cue Heather Small song here*.
There were some fantastic poems and extracts from this week’s event, and it was great to hear from the invited speakers too. Abi Curtis read from her new book “Water and Glass” and Charlotte Eichler read some of her poems that fit with this month’s theme of “elements”. A big well done to the house band too who managed to mention an impressive number of elements within their songs!
The next event is going to be held on Monday 24th September and the theme is going to be “movies”. Plenty of time to get writing something!