Posted Thursday 26 October 2017
A new literary cultural centre that will bring leading authors, poets and journalists together with students, staff and the local community has opened its doors at Kingston University.
Developed and managed by the University, the new Writers' Centre Kingston will deliver an annual programme of talks, workshops and festivals across the borough. Guest authors include novelist and filmmaker Iain Sinclair and Nell Leyshon, whose first book Black Dirt was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize and made the long list for the Orange Prize.
Creative writing lecturer and director of the writers' centre Steven J. Fowler said the initiative would provide a unique forum for nurturing local talent and cultivating enthusiasm for writing within the community.
"The aim of the centre is to attract some of the globe's most talented writers to Kingston through an innovative programme that will benefit students, staff and the local community," he said. "It's also fundamental to the centre that alongside being a creative hub for the University and the town, we create an inclusive environment where everybody feels welcome."
Events at the new centre will be hosted and curated in partnership with key institutions in the borough including the Rose Theatre, Rich Mix Cultural Foundation and Stanley Picker Gallery.
Dorich House Museum, the former studio home of acclaimed Russian sculptor Dora Gordine, was the venue for the Writers' Centre Kingston's first launch event, which included talks, presentations and readings based around the theme of living. This week, the borough's Rose Theatre will play host to author Iain Sinclair who will share his work alongside guests including academics from the University.
The new centre would also allow students from across the University to learn from top creative talent and gain an invaluable insight into the world of professional writing, Mr Fowler explained. "It's important for students to engage with authors who are doing this for a living and to show them what the industry is really about," said Mr Fowler. "These events provide students with the chance to take advantage of their experience and knowledge, alongside what they are learning as part of their course."
As part of the initiative, nine talented Kingston University students will also have their work published in special one-off poetry pamphlets produced by Sampson Low, one of the United Kingdom's oldest publishing houses. They will then be made available for the public to purchase at future events.
Writers' Centre Kingston builds on the decade-long legacy of Kingston Writing School, continuing the tradition of having a dedicated centre for literacy at Kingston University. "There are very few universities that have completely separate centres dedicated to literacy that boasts a world-class programme of events and engage with students in a way that's extracurricular," Mr Fowler added.
The programme will run special events throughout the year, including a European Poetry Festival in April 2018, a month-long exhibition of literary art, and a celebration of English PEN – the founding centre of a worldwide writers' association that spans more than 100 countries.
There will also be a programme of adult education courses available from the centre and initiatives including a book club and a writers-in-residence programme.