The idea of a City Read is not new – London has one every year, and other UK cities have held them. A book is chosen, usually with some connection to the city, everyone in the city is encouraged to read that book over a period of time, and events are organised to enable residents to come together and share the experience.
Nottingham City of Literature has taken the concept a step further, using the City Read to encourage writing as well as reading. We have commissioned new writing from contemporary Nottinghamshire authors for the anthology These Seven, and we will encourage other writers and members of the public to submit their own writing to this website.
This will enable residents of Nottingham and the region to engage with reading and writing that is relevant to them, providing opportunities for creativity, discussion, and cross-generational and cross-cultural understanding.
Our list for this year’s anthology is Alan Sillitoe (existing short story), Megan Taylor, John Harvey, Alison Moore, Paula Rawsthorne, John ‘Brick’ Clark and Shreya Sen Handley. This group covers several genres and target audiences and so provides many opportunities to engage different communities within Nottingham.
Local book groups are encouraged to read the anthology. Meet-the-author events will take place in libraries and community centres. Authors will go into schools, prisons, and a range of other settings and talk about their stories
Writing workshops in different contexts will be led by the authors and other writers, using the stories in the book as a starting point. These will focus primarily on writing for pleasure, enabling the general public to ‘have a go’ at writing without any pressure. There will also be workshops allowing those interested to edit and polish their writing.
We will run a writing competition with prizes and the incentive of publication for the winners and runners-up. There will be several categories of entry, and lots of runners-up, enabling the widest possible publication of would-be writers.
We also plan to work with schools to initiate and support writing projects around the themes raised in the anthology, perhaps leading to schools’ own anthologies of writing about Nottingham.
Who we are
The project is run by a partnership comprising Nottingham City of Literature, Bromley House Library, Five Leaves Bookshop and Nottingham Writers’ Studio. We are grateful to Arts Council England for funding the project through Grants for the Arts.
While this project is currently local in scope, in future years we intend to extend it to include other cities across the world – for example, Kolkata, Budapest, Hobart and Seattle. We will create a new anthology each year, and share current and past anthologies with reading and writing groups in those cities, initiating cross-cultural and trans-continental discussion and sharing of literature. We will work with literature organisations in our partner cities to run similar projects there, enabling us to exchange, compare and discuss stories (those written by established authors and those written by the general public), providing a framework for international communication and understanding.