Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Cheshire Prize for Poetry 2016 Awards Evening

The Cheshire Prize for Poetry 2016 Awards evening was hosted by the Chair of the Panel of Judges, Dr Ian Seed, on Tuesday 22 November. 

Talks were given by poet and radio broadcaster, Ian McMillan, and by the High Sherriff of Chester, Mrs Kathy Cowell OBE. 

The first prize of £2,000 was presented to Cheryl Pearson, from Levenshulme, Manchester, for her poem The Cartographer’s Daughter. 

Three runners-up were also announced and each received £250. They were: Helen Kay, from Nantwich, for her poem Dad: Latin at the Village School, 1969; Joy Winkler from Macclesfield, who wrote Shakkei - Borrowed Scenery and John Paul Davies, from County Meath in Ireland, for his poem The Darkroom. 

As well as cash prizes, the winning entries and a selection of other submissions will be included in an anthology produced by the University of Chester Press next spring.

Friday, 18 November 2016

First Open-Mic Night of 2016-17

The first open-mic night for the year 2016-17 was held on Wednesday, November 16.  Students and tutors read out their poems, scripts, stories, flashes, and monologues, and there was even a bi-lingual reading of some Italian poetry.

Some fun writing and performance competitions were held, with a number of prizes being awarded. The winner of the top prize – a £30 book token – was student Bjorn Ephgrave.

A healthy amount of red wine was drunk and a good time was had by all! 

The organisers of the evening were the three student editors of Pandora’s Box: Cal Buckley, Jonathan Hay and Liz Milne.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

A Seminar with Poet Carole Coates

On October 26th, Creative Writing students on the course Poetry: Other Voices, Other Forms were treated to a seminar and workshop on narrative poetry with Carole Coates. Carole has published four full-length collections of poetry, the latest of which is a novel in verse, Jacob (Shoestring Press, 2016), 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.’ 

Carole read from two of her collections, took questions from the students, and set a number of writing exercises. Key points included: ‘Don’t write what you know. Write want you want to find out about’; ‘with poetry you can tell a story by flashes of lightening – you don’t have to spell everything out as you would with a novel’; ‘if you are writing a narrative poem, get inside the head of your character’; ‘don’t be afraid to fictionalise to make your poem more interesting’; and ‘spend lots of time drafting’.

 The visit was organised by Dr Ian Seed.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Launch of Patches of Light: Short Stories from the Cheshire Prize for Literature 2015

The launch of Patches of Light: Short Stories from the Cheshire Prize for Literature was held at the University of Chester’s Queen’s Park campus on July 6. Authors were presented with a copy of the anthology by the High Sheriff of Chester, Kathy Cowell OBE DL. Selections from the stories were read out to an audience.

The editor, Dr Ian Seed, said that the stories of this collection ‘seek to reflect and explore the hopes, dreams, joys, fears and frailties that are common to us all, but which are revealed differently in each life. They may offer us only glimpses, but each glimpse will leave us changed in some way. Like shifting patches of light on water, they invite us to stop and look, to linger for a brief space of time, to take away something we felt we always knew, but didn’t know that we knew before.’

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

London Reading by Lecturer Dr Ian Seed

Ian Seed will be taking part in a poetry reading with Helen Mitsios, Christopher Reid and Kit Wright on 2nd July, at The Room in Tottenham Hale, London. More information about the event can be found here:

Monday, 6 June 2016

Simon Armitage, 'Putting Poetry in its Place'

The ninth talk in the Professor Glyn Turton Lecture series, organized by the Department of English, University of Chester, was delivered by one of Britain’s most distinguished writers, Simon Armitage, Professor of Poetry at Oxford University and the University of Sheffield.

In a wide-ranging, thought-provoking, and thoroughly engaging lecture titled ‘Putting Poetry in its Place’, Armitage considered the importance and pleasure of specific settings (sometimes named places) in poems by canonical and aspiring writers. He drew on his reading of various British and Irish poets, and his experience of workshopping students’ writing. Poets (and poems) discussed included Ted Hughes (‘Full Moon and Little Frieda’), Seamus Hughes (‘A Constable Calls’), James Fenton (‘Tiananmen’), Paul Muldoon (‘Duffy’s Circus’), Edward Thomas (‘Adlestrop’), and Douglas Dunn (‘On Roofs of Terry Street’).

Armitage concluded with Thom Gunn’s ‘Epitaph for Anton Schmidt’, which ends:

I see him in the Polish snow,
His muddy wrappings small protection,
Breathing the cold air of his freedom
And treading a distinct direction.

The lecture trod its own ‘distinct direction’, based on Armitage’s belief in the significance of place in poetry and the place poetry can have in our lives.

After the lecture, Armitage signed copies of his books, including his latest, a translation of the Middle English poem Pearl.

Armitage was introduced by Professor Turton, in whose honour the lecture series was founded in 2010. For information about the series, go to:

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Pandora's Box launched at May open-mic night

Pandora’s Box, with its selection of the year’s best creative writing by students and staff at the University of Chester, was launched on the evening of May 9. As well as a reading of poems and flash fiction from the magazine, songs were sung, monologues performed, and prizes awarded. The evening’s events were organised and hosted by the two student editors Larissa Aziz and Edward Little. A fine time was had by all!

Monday, 18 April 2016

Visit to Chester by Prize-Winning Poet Andrew McMillan

On 15 April, Creative Writing students on the module Writing Poetry for Publication spent a seminar and workshop with poet Andrew McMillan (in centre of photo). Andrew was born in South Yorkshire in 1988; his debut collection physical was the first ever poetry collection to win the Guardian First Book Award. The collection also won the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award, the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize. It was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for autumn 2015. In 2014 he received a substantial Northern Writers’ Award. He currently lectures in Creative Writing at Liverpool John Moores University and lives in Manchester.

The focus of the seminar was ‘routes to publication’. Andrew advised first becoming familiar with literary magazines, many of which can be found in the University of Chester’s library, such as The North, Poetry London and Shearsman. ‘Once you have found a magazine whose poetry you enjoy and which suits your style, read the submission guidelines carefully, then send off your poems.’ Andrew’s first published poem was in The North when he was still an undergraduate; his second was in the online journal Shadowtrain. Andrew believes that sending work to magazines is a better bet than entering competitions, and that your poem in a magazine will actually be read by people who care about poetry. If you are very lucky, your work may even be selected from the magazine for an anthology. No book publisher is likely to consider your poems unless you have first had your work published in literary magazines. Andrew advised not to worry about rejections (he says he could fill a suitcase with all the rejections he has had), to be persistent, and to make your writing the most important thing in the world when you are doing it.

Andrew then went on to take questions, read from his collection physical, talk about the nature of ‘confessional poetry’, and finally got us all writing a confessional poem of our own.

The visit was organised by Dr Ian Seed.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Peter Blair - Runner-up in Bath Flash Fiction Award

‘Shadowtrain’ by Peter Blair, Senior Lecturer in English, was a ‘commended’ runner-up in the Bath Flash Fiction Award. You can read the story and an interview with Peter by clicking on the following links:

Monday, 21 March 2016

Dr Ian Seed on BBC Radio 3

Last Friday, Ian Seed was a guest on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb, where he discussed prose poetry and read from his latest collection, Identity Papers. 

Ian’s contribution was part of a wider discussion around the changing representation of new towns in film, music, history and literature. 

The programme can be heard here:

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Visit to Chester by Poet Tom Jenks

On 22 February, Creative Writing students on the module Poetry: Other Voices, Other Forms spent a seminar and workshop with poet Tom Jenks.  Tom has published ten collections of poetry and his work appears in Salt’s Best British Poetry 2015 (ed. Emily berry). See for more details.

Through a series of prompts and exercises, Tom showed us how to generate poems using the internet and computer programs, tempered by human input and intervention. There was a discussion about how to make use of this for writing poetry, for example, exploring new territory, going out of one’s comfort zone, overcoming writer’s block, and just having fun with the composition of poetry. Tom also read from his own brilliantly funny work.

One student commented that it was the best workshop he had ever been to. Tom has produced a collaborative poem using some of the lines from the workshop. See

The visit was organised by Dr Ian Seed.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Simon Armitage, 'Putting Poetry in its Place' (25 May 2016)

[Photo Credit: Paul Wolfgang Webster]

The Department of English, University of Chester, is pleased to announce that the ninth talk in the Professor Glyn Turton Lecture series will be delivered by one of Britain’s most distinguished writers, Simon Armitage.

Armitage is author of over twenty poetry collections, including: Zoom! (1989), Kid (1992), Book of Matches (1993), The Dead Sea Poems (1995), CloudCuckooLand (1997), Killing Time (1999), Travelling Songs (2002), The Universal Home Doctor (2002), Tyrannosaurus Rex versus The Corduroy Kid (2006), Seeing Stars (2010), and Paper Aeroplanes (2014). His other writing includes autobiographies, travelogues, plays, scripts, and translations of Homer’s Odyssey (2006), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (2007), The Death of King Arthur (2011), and Pearl (2016). In 2004, he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and in 2010, for services to poetry, was appointed CBE. He is a Vice-President of the Poetry Society and Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford.

Entry is free, but BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL.

To book a place, and for further information, go to:

Monday, 8 February 2016

Visit to Chester by Novelist George Green

On 5 February, Creative Writing students on the module Writing the Past spent a seminar and workshop with author of historical novels, George Green. George’s novels include Hawk (2006) and Hound (2003), which was described in the Guardian as ‘tightly written, oddly touching and with a strong sense of history as well as myth’. He is also co-author of Writing a Novel and Getting Published for Dummies (2007; 2014). 

George gave out a number of tips based on his own experiences as a published writer on matters such as the relationship between historical research and fiction, the role of planning and plotting, and how not to waste time going up too many blind alleys with your story. He then took a number of questions from the class on issues such as theme, setting, and use of foreign languages.  

All agreed that it was a useful and thoroughly enjoyable seminar.  

The visit was organised by Dr Ian Seed.

Monday, 1 February 2016

New Book of Prose Poems Published by Lecturer Dr Ian Seed

Ian Seed’s book of prose poems, Identity Papers, has just been published by Shearsman.  

Poet and critic Mark Ford comments: ‘Ian Seed is our most brilliant exponent of that most unBritish of genres, the prose poem. Hilarious and unsettling, his beautifully controlled micro-narratives genially induct us into a world that soon turns out to be as dangerous as it is magical. His work should really come with some kind of health warning, for these poems are not only intoxicating – they are addictive.’ 

Click here for to find out more.
Ian will be launching his new collection at Swedenborg Hall, London on Tuesday 9th February, as part of the Shearsman readings series

Friday, 15 January 2016

Former Creative Writing Student Publishes his Second Pamphlet of Poetry


Jake Campbell, former Creative Writing student at the University of Chester, has published a second pamphlet of poetry, The Coast Will Wait Behind You. It is available from Art Editions North.

 Poet Jean Sprackland comments: ‘The tempered lyricism of Jake Campbell's poems, and their forensic attention to detail, bring to life the visceral and psychological experience of coastal place, with all its edge-of-the-world urgency and exhilaration.’
Lecturer Dr Ian Seed says of the collection: ‘The poems in The Coast Will Wait Behind You convey such a strong sense of voice and of landscape. They are haunting, unafraid of the world of the dead, yet always feel firmly rooted in the world we live in.’ 


Wednesday, 6 January 2016

New Collection of Flashes

Drs Peter Blair and Ashley Chantler are pleased to announce the publication of Meg Tuite’s Lined Up Like Scars: Flash Fictions. The chapbook is the second to be edited by Blair and Chantler, and published by Flash: The International Short-Short Story Press (Chester).
For more information and to order a copy, go to:

New Pamphlet of Poetry Published by Lecturer Dr Ian Seed

Ian Seed's pamphlet of poetry, Fidelities, has been published in a limited edition by Red Ceilings Press. Click here to see a review by Steve Spence for Stride Magazine.