We work on an annual programme of activity with academics and students at Durham University as part of Durham Book Festival, which New Writing North produces for Durham County Council. Our collective mission is to widen the appreciation of books across the county and to bring new ideas to audiences in Durham.
With staff at Durham University we have worked on publications, civic engagement, research and events (in communities, prisons and schools) and each year we widen our working to involve new initiatives around the sharing of ideas, translation, mental health, international working and the building of relationships around themes and shared research interests.
As part of the festival leading academics help to programme and host book festival events and profile their research. Each year over 30 students form a volunteer base to help deliver the festival.
We are currently working with colleagues from the university to develop new programmes of work in the field of mental health and wellbeing and translation and to continue our literary exchange programme with Jordan.
Each year we work with the Centre for Poetics to appoint a Festival Laureate to work between the university and the festival. This wonderful opportunity has brought leading poets such as Paul Muldoon, Simon Armitage, Lorna Goodison, Andrew McMillan, Don Paterson, Helen Mort and Jacob Polley to Durham. The Laureates are commissioned to create new work for the festival and to deliver public events. This has produced many excellent poems and innovative live literature and podcast productions such as Rich Seams.
In 2018/19 we worked with the university to appoint a Creative Industry Fellowship with Dr Laura McKenzie. Laura’s work on this project produced a wealth of knowledge and has led to the creation of an on-going project, Writing Durham, that looks to explore the literary connections of Durham. It also inspired a new guided walk.