Lancaster University

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Researchers and Writers at Lancaster debate the Shrinking Globe

09/01/2009 09:12:00

Poet John Siddique winner of the Moving Manchester creative writing commission © Jojo Duenas
Poet John Siddique winner of the Moving Manchester creative writing commission © Jojo Duenas

Hundreds of writers and researchers from across the world are heading to the North West this month (9-12th September) to share the results of a four year project investigating the impact of migration on creative writing in Manchester.

Changes in transportation, technology and the world economy mean we now live in a shrinking world. A conference held at Lancaster University - Glocal Imaginaries: Writing/Migration/Place – will explore how this has impacted upon our sense of ‘home’ in the 21st Century.

The conference is one of a raft of events celebrating the end of the research project, ‘Moving Manchester /Mediating Marginalites’ based at Lancaster University. Delegates from thirty-five countries around the world are expected to attend the event.

Moving Manchester, which is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, set out to promote and research the city’s wealth of multicultural writing from the 60s to the present.

Project director Professor Lynne Pearce of Lancaster University said: “In many ways Manchester is the definitive migrant city. Since the industrial revolution, the city has been populated with migrants drawn from other parts of the UK and beyond. And the increasingly complex relationship between the local and the global has emerged as one of the defining characteristics of contemporary Manchester writing.

“This project has explored how those experiences have shaped the creative voice of the city for several generations. Now, for the first time, we have captured some of those voices in an electronic catalogue creating a resource for writers, researchers and the public for years to come.

“Listening to the voices of those who have moved between such different cultures on a regular basis over several decades can help us better understand the complex nature of migration in the modern world and how most of us are now migrants of some kind.

“Those of us working on the project strongly believe that writing and other art forms – be this poetry, fiction, films or music – have a vital role to play in helping us process and understand the challenges of living in an increasingly mobile world -- and, at best, to help us imagine a better future.”

The programme of events lined up to celebrate the end of the ‘Moving Manchester’ includes:

· A three-day international conference, ‘Glocal Imaginaries: Writing/Migration/Place’ at Lancaster University attended by around 200 delegates from Africa, South America, Asia, Australia and Europe. 9-11 September 2009.

· An evening performance at Lancaster University (11th Sept).which will include the launch of an anthology of new Manchester writing called ‘Migration Stories’. This book is published by ‘Commonword’ – an organisation that has been developing and promoting writing in the city since the early 1980s. Six authors will read from their stories and there will also be a performance by well-known Manchester poet, Shamshad Khan, Venue: The Great Hall, Lancaster University Campus. Tickets available on the door.

· A creative arts day on Saturday, September 12 at the Whitworth Gallery, Manchester. This event will feature readings, talks and performances by well-known writers and artists as well as an exhibition of the work of artists, photographers, writing groups and community arts organisations involved with issues of migration.

An evening performance at the Whitworth Gallery on Saturday 12 September headlined by Jackie Kay. This will also include the premiere of the Moving Manchester conference commission, won byJohn Siddique. Music will be provided by the Congolese band Les Elus. Both of Saturday's events will be open to the general public and tickets will be available on the door.

· Newly commissioned work: A sequence of new poems by John Siddique: ‘From a Seed to a Flower: five poems from real lives.’ Based on interviews with migrants in and around Manchester’s Piccadilly, the poems are accompanied by his own photographic images of his subjects; also, an Anthology of new Manchester writing, Migration Stories (Commonword Publishers), to be launched at Lancaster on Friday 11th September along with the performance of a new poem by Shamshad Khan.

· An exhibition of Manchester writers showcasing fifty years of writing in Greater Manchester, 7 September - 17 October 2009 Manchester Central Library. See and follow the links to Exhibitions for further details.

· The launch of an online Writers' Gallery featuring the work of selected Manchester writers from Maya Chowdhry and SuAndi to John Lyons and Pete Kalu.

· The launch of a digital catalogue of over 200 Manchester migrant writers presently available on the ‘Moving Manchester’ website which will eventually be linked to the Manchester Central Library Catalogue.

The AHRC-funded project ‘Moving Manchester’ is based at Lancaster University, where the team comprises Prof Lynne Pearce (English), Dr Robert Crawshaw (European Languages and Cultures), Dr Graham Mort (Creative Writing), Dr Corinne Fowler (project researcher) and Mrs Jo McVicker (project administrator).

The project team would like to gratefully acknowledge the support of Arts Council England for artistic spending on the conference and the Central Library Exhibition.