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Word Online: The highlights

21st April 2022

Over the past six months, we’ve been delighted to collaborate with library services across the South West to host a free virtual tour, Word Online, a continuation of the successful in person tour in 2018-19 Word on Tour.

Across our fifteen stops we hosted nineteen diverse writers working across a range of genres – from spoken word artists to novelists and poets. Over the course of the tour these writers connected with our audience of over 800 people in 10 countries – to share their experiences and find potential new readers. Here is a listing with links to all of our writers, so that you can explore their work further.

our word online writers (in order of appearance on the tour)

Here, Michelle Phillips our Digital and Communications Officer – digital producer of Word Online – talks us through some of her highlights:

It has been my pleasure to curate and produce Word Online in partnership with the South Western Regional Library Service (SWRLS) on behalf of Literature Works. During the long months of lockdown, it was a real treat to host a virtual celebration of diverse writing talent each fortnight. Who could forget our opening event hosted by Bristol Libraries featuring poet Inua Ellams? Back in April, we spent a delightful hour inviting the audience to take part in a unique call and response event using Inua’s poems. This created a moving and thought provoking start to the tour. Fast forward and audiences were treated to exclusive previews of not-yet published books – a chapter from Patrick Gale’s forthcoming novel about Charles Causley, Mother’s Boy and a reading from Amita Murray’s Arya Winters and The Tiramisu of Death were real treats.

Every librarian host facilitated open and thought provoking conversations and audience participation was always encouraged. Writers delved into subjects that were important to them, inspiring thought, discussion and action. A particular example of this were Wiltshire Library Service’s panel event featuring Gaele Sobott (who joined us at 3 am from Sydney!), Nick Makoha and Cheryl Martin.

“Wonderful [tour] – Bringing authors into our homes at no cost to ourselves is amazing. We are very lucky. Thank you!”

Audience Member

As one of the aims of the tour was to share varied experiences, I can’t not mention our final event, hosted by Arts University featuring Yin Lim and Jessica Gaitán Johannesson. The two writers talked to Dr Kevan Manwaring about the power of language as a tool – in communication, in establishing an identity, in owning one’s authenticity. It was a fascinating event and is still available to watch online until 30th November.

“Libraries and authors need each other. Word Online helped me to not only connect with readers and library enthusiasts but to, hopefully, also encourage them to stay involved by sharing some of my own library stories. At a time when libraries are facing cutbacks, authors can lend their support through initiatives such as this – but it needs people behind the scenes such as at Word Online to make this happen. I look forward to getting invited back for more such events!”

Vaseem Khan, Word Online, Libraries Unlimited

The power of collaboration to produce a tour that featured a range of event formats and genres really came through. Thank you to everyone who made the tour possible.