Wednesday 26 October 2016

Saffron Lane

(Saffron Lane estate, 1927)

Congratulations to third-year English with Creative Writing student, Yasmin Musse, whose poem, "Saffron Lane," has just been published in the online magazine I Am Not A Silent Poet. You can read it here

Thursday 20 October 2016

Magical Mystery Tour

Yesterday, the students on the MA in Creative Writing went on a "magical mystery tour" in Leicester. Here is a kind of scrapbook of some of the strange, banal, familiar, unfamiliar, uncanny things we all saw ...

Pub Wisdom (photo by JT)
Pub D├ęcor - perhaps an allusion to Francis Bacon's Screaming Popes? (photo by JT)
"All property is theft" (Proudhon) (photo by JT)
Frames ready for the wall art (photo by JT)
Very dangerous roofs (photo by JT) 
Wall poetry (photo by JT) 
Post-alley party (photo by Rosalind Adam)
Aspirations (photo by Rosalind Adam).
Rosalind Adam drafted the following poem, inspired by the last photograph:

A row of flats above grey garages
where grey sheets hang
along grey passages
high above the plot where
once unwilling boys,
11+ failures,
were crammed in
crammed with
knowledge they’d never use,
so now they live
in flats above grey garages
and hang their grey sheets
along grey passages.

Review by Eliot John of "Welcome to Leicester", edited by Emma Lee and Ambrose Musiyiwa

Imagine a puzzle of Leicester… large and colourful and made up of a thousand tiny, intricate pieces. Now, imagine that you’ve just emptied out the contents of the puzzle-box. The image is scattered and broken, beautiful and diverse.

Welcome to Leicester (Dahlia Publishing, 2016) is a Wonderland in poetry form. From the Contents you are transported on a zig-zagged journey through the city, as if you were viewing it from Willy Wonka’s Great Glass Elevator. You jump from ‘Granby Street’ to ‘Western Road’ and back to ‘Highfields’ in only a handful of titles. A few big names also stand out, Richard III is there, of course, and Shakespeare, then there’s Picasso placed nicely in the middle and obviously a number of Leicester City footie fans.

Where do I start? Let’s begin as Alice did in her Wonderland - straight down the rabbit hole. The Leicester equivalent is the notorious carpark, the resting place of an infamous king. 'King Richard of Leicester' is an incredibly witty, fast-paced poem that gives you the low down on Richard and his great discovery. Colin Cook is that teacher you had in school who made history fun and relatable. You would leave class thinking 'Mr. Cook is so strange, isn’t he?' but you’d still be laughing and quoting the poem all the way home.
Rob Gee also mentions ‘some dead bones of a dead bloke in a carpark’ in his piece 'On Leicester Winning Premiership.' This poem is like being a VIP at the Mad Hatter’s tea party, only with Vardy-bombs instead. It perfectly portrays the elation felt within the community after the grand win. It is an adrenaline-filled ode to the club. I challenge you not to tear up by the end.
Julia Wood shows us a different side to Leicester in 'Fosse Park, After Dark.' I wouldn’t dare to read this one after dark. ‘Concrete ghosts’ will haunt your dreams and leave you breathless.
You cannot help but admire Leicester after reading this anthology. It’s an odd mix of poems on history, food, scenery, ethnicity, festivals, sport and more. But hey, that’s Leicester for you.

About the reviewer
Eliot John is a poet and creative writer from Leicester who specialises in spoken word and flash fiction. Eliot regularly hosts burlesque shows in the city for The Leicester Vixens and is renowned for their witty and dark approach to life. Recurring themes that are explored in their work include loss of identity, sexuality, ethics, and the vices of modern culture.

Saturday 1 October 2016

Induction Day, by Rosalind Adam

An MA in Creative Writing? At my age? What would the other students think? What would they see when they looked at me? After a stern pep-talk from Daughter and a third outfit change I was ready to face them all.

On campus I was surrounded by students wearing red lanyards, bearing their plastic encoded ID. It was over 30 years since I had graduated from Leicester University. There were no plastic encoded cards in those days, never mind lanyards around people’s necks. Doors were opened with keys, metal ones, and our student ID card was just that, a card, folded into a booklet with our photograph stuck inside. I still have my old ones and have been known to use them as after-dinner entertainment. It was the hair. Year 1 shows me with straight, dare I say, boring hair. In Year 2 it had become a little more ruffled but by Year 3 I was sporting a full-blown, shoulder-length, curly perm, chestnut black with a hint of red.

Just the sight of all those red lanyards made me childishly enthusiastic at the thought of sporting my very own. The large hall in the Charles Wilson Building was set up as a temporary ID issue point. From the door I could see members of staff handing over lanyards with the regularity of a car production line but, as I entered the hall, I was stopped by a security guard.

“Can I help you, Madam?”

“I’ve come to collect my ID card.”

“You mean, you’re collecting one for somebody else?”

My eyes narrowed. “No, it’s for me.” I was trying to keep the anger from my voice.

“Oh!” he said. “How…”

“Don’t!” I snapped but he continued anyway.

“How very brave of you. Well done.”

I was lost for a suitably stinging retort.

“I’m doing an MA!” I barked as if that explained it all, as if there was anything that needed explaining. I thrust my head up and strode past him into the hall. I queued at the wrong desk and then, lanyard hanging awkwardly around my neck, tried to exit through the entrance door. It took a coffee, a strong one, for me to half-recover but I was still seething. I needed a good experience to end the day. Would I find it in the library?

I now had my seemingly endless reading list and I asked the librarian how many books I could take out. She checked my ID card and replied, but it was noisy in the reception area and, please remember, I’m not as young as I was.

“Pardon?” I said. “Did you say 14 books?”

“No,” she grinned. “I said 40.”

Forty books! A perfect end to an almost perfect day. MA in Creative Writing? I’m ready for you now.

Rosalind Adam is an MA in Creative Writing student at the University of Leicester. You can read her blog here: