An update from New Writing North

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Dear friends, we trust and hope that you are keeping well during this very strange time. We wanted to update you on our current plans for activity, some of which have had to be adapted or postponed.

Our focus over the past few weeks has been to review all existing activity and to understand how best to address the current challenges as we adjust to working remotely. We are grateful that we have many projects that can and will continue during this period and hope to be able to still offer paid work to many writers and practitioners as we shift our plans from live events to new forms of delivery.

As we begin to think about what ‘recovery’ from this moment will look like for New Writing North please be assured that we understand recovery to be not just for our own organisation, but for the networks of writers and practitioners that we know depend on and value our programmes of work. We’ll be thinking hard about how best to do this over the next few weeks.

Current projects

Climate writer in residence

The work of Linda France, our climate writer in residence, feels more pertinent than ever during a global pandemic and we are really pleased we can continue this residency in a digital form. There are still spaces available for our next two Climate Reading Groups, discussing Karen Solie, The Caiplie Caves on Tuesday 5 May, 6pm, and Thich Nhat Hanh, Love Letter to the Earth on Tuesday 16 June, 6pm. Both of these meetings will now take place on Zoom. Register for your free place via the links.


Common People report

On 1 May we will be launching a new report Common People: Breaking the Class Ceiling in UK Publishing based on findings from the Common People professional development programme. This provocative report profiles new findings and recommends new ways of working to make the writing and publishing industries more accessible to people from all backgrounds. To accompany the report we will launch a new Common People podcast that has been produced under lockdown and will feature contributions from leading writers and industry and academic experts.


New Narratives for the North East

In mid-May we will be announcing the 15 new commissions for the New Narratives for the North East project. It has been heartening to be in a position to offer commissions to so many brilliant writers and we look forward to sharing the line-up with you soon.


Read Regional

Our Read Regional campaign, which tours 23 library authorities across the North, has been put on hold for 2020 and will now run with the same titles in 2021. We’re really pleased that we will be able to give these brilliant books the outing they deserve at a later date. This does mean that we won’t be looking for new titles to be submitted for the 2021 campaign, however our 2022 campaign will cover a wider period of publication dates, so no authors will miss out on the opportunity to be involved. Thank you to all of our library partners for their support with this.


Northern Writers’ Awards

We are still progressing with judging the Northern Writers’ Awards to our original timeline and look forward to announcing the winners on the week commencing 22 June 2020. All applicants will hear from us in early June.


Gordon Burn Prize

We are still progressing with judging the Gordon Burn Prize to our original timeline and look forward to announcing the longlist in May 2020.


Seaton Delaval Hall Residency

We look forward to bringing you news of the writer-in-residence at Seaton Delaval Hall in the next few weeks.


Work with young people

Our Young Writers’ Groups are suspended for the foreseeable future, but we are looking at ways to continue working with young people and are currently surveying our group members to find out what kind of online activity they would like from us. If you are in one of our Young Writers’ Groups, we’d love to hear from you. You can fill in the form here until Monday 27 April. We are looking forward to running our Young Writers’ Summer School on Zoom. Look out for sign-up forms soon.


Work with schools

With schools currently closed, we have been developing free self-led creative writing workshops for young people to complete at home. The workshops should last around 45 minutes each and have been developed by our very experienced freelance writers to be suitable for Key Stages 3, 4 and 5. There are currently 18 workshops available to download and we will be adding more over the coming weeks. We’re also interested in hearing from teachers about other ways we may be able to support creative writing activity in schools during this period. Get in touch with Ruth Dewhirst [email protected].


Durham Book Festival

We are in discussions with our key festival partners Durham County Council and Durham University about what form Durham Book Festival will take this autumn. We hope that many of our familiar festival projects such as the Big and Little Read will still take place but in new ways and will look forward to sharing them with you later in the summer.


Projects on hold

The Julia Darling Travel Fellowship will have a hiatus this year but will return in 2021. We have also regrettably cancelled some of our international exchange programme work.


In line with government advice, we’re working from home for the moment, so you won’t be able to reach us on our office phone. Get in touch by emailing [email protected] or sending us a message on Twitter or Facebook.