Cultural Advancements Make Benefit Glorious City Manchester

Kate Feld links, with justifiable triumphalism, to a Guardian piece by Jerome de Groot that raves about Manchester’s thriving litscene. Universities have brought in talented names and developed strong creative writing courses with public debates and functions. Workshops and literary magazines have flourished like bindweed. But that’s only part of the picture: ‘live and grassroots writing is where Manchester really comes into its own.’

The many writing movements in the city support speakeasies, literary salons, readings, musical events, open mic evenings, online publishing, poetry slams; there is a thriving magazine and blog scene (as the Guide observed back in 2007). The city’s literati are young, hip and hungry, and writing in an enviably diverse range of styles and media. I’ve seen short stories told by Powerpoint, cabaret and performance poetry in abandoned mills. There are radical left newsgroups and resident dreamers writing Rainy City Stories; hip-hop performers and buskers and surrealist novelists and women’s writing groups and multiple festivals and DJs and art car boot sales and exciting venues. There are excellent Manchester magazines and journals like if p then q, Transmission, Geeek, and the Manchester Review, mixing Manchester-based writing with international authors, commentators and artists.

Our city is well known for ridiculous hype but for once the hype has substance. Trust me on this.

I’m a Londoner by birth and a Mancunian by adoption. The litscene is a hundred times bigger and better than it was when I first started following it five years or so ago. The Arts Council funded, box-ticking, hoop-jumping hack slams have vanished. They have been replaced by strong and diverse nights run by intelligent, creative artists and promoters who aren’t afraid to say something serious. As a result attendance is higher and wider. The contemporary complaint about modern spoken word nights is that the venue is too small. The room is like a Glasto moshpit and chairs are lost on the three-second rule. The nights are long and intoxicated and people attend for pleasure, not duty or networking.

The people who made this possible are too legion to list. Few receive assistance from the Arts Council or any body like it. I’ll name just one: the phenomenal John G Hall.

Of course it’s not all perfect, there are duds, creeps and morons in Manchester’s litscene just like in any other place. But things are better here than I’ve ever known them.

Occasionally I feel this weird obligation to move to London. Then I remember the Cornerhouse, the cosmopolitan spine, the Fallowfield Loop in its early evening gold. And, do you know, the smoke feels a little less like the place I was born.

manchester

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One Response to “Cultural Advancements Make Benefit Glorious City Manchester”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    And I guess John might also point out that the Guardian article is a load of bollocks

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