Talent Development

Word Space 2022-23

19th April 2022

Literature Works’ inclusive and diverse talent development programme for developing new voices from around the South West region.

Our 12-strong first cohort of emerging writers have embarked together on a creative journey with their mentors for 12 months to develop their work and achieve set writing goals.

Meet the Cohort

  • Kim has an MA in Creative Writing (Distinction, Tutors’ Prize) and is an alumna of the Curtis Brown Creative 6 month novel writing course. Her first novel, RED RUBICON, won Stroud Book Festival Mainstream Novel Prize. She was a moderator for the online writers’ forum Writers’ HQ. Her short work has been published by MsLexia, Pure Slush, and Ellipsis Zine, among others. During Word Space she is working with mentor, Jon Stock, on COME AS YOU WERE, a funny-dark thriller. An early first chapter was shortlisted (as KANGAROO COURT) for the Flash 500 Novel Competition. She has most recently been published by Red Herrings, the Crime Writers’ Association magazine. Her hobbies include open water swimming, and playing the trombone (although not both at once).

  • Emma lives in Stroud, Gloucestershire, and started writing jokes and short stories while at home (and in the car) with small children. These days, at work she writes about the government’s latest policies, and the rest of the time she writes comedy. For Word Space, Emma is writing about all of her favourite things at once: local history, motherhood, folklore, large scale art theft and the middle aisle at Aldi. She’d hoped to be told that this is definitely not a story anyone wants to read – and she would say, well, at least I tried, and go back to tweeting too much. But so far, annoyingly, everyone’s been very encouraging and constructive and she has written more than she’s ever done in her life.

  • Kate started writing poetry seriously a couple of years ago, having resisted the urge for years. Actually, it’s probably the job she is best qualified for, but making it pay is something else. She finally took the plunge of self-employment this year after hearing an interview with Simon Armitage describing the point where he could no longer combine his work as a Probation Officer with his need to write. She realised the same had happened to her and recent cancer treatment amplified that carpe diem feeling. Kate has a couple of pamphlets due out, has had poems published and won the odd prize. This year has been weird because external events: health, work, personal circumstances have forced writing into a secondary role. Kate feels she is re-emerging into the poet she’ll be for the rest of her life. Like all transitions, this is a little unsettling and she wants to thank her mentor, Alyson Hallett, for her ability to identify this stage and encourage Kate to move forward, despite feeling terrified sometimes. Kate has greatly enjoyed contact with other writers and would like to meet in person and continue aspects of the programme after it ends. She’s hoping she can develop the areas of her writing that have begun to emerge from mentoring and start the basis for a published collection.

  • Simon Middleton’s writing has appeared in Envoi, iamb, IOTA, The Cadaverine, Firewords Quarterly and The Best New British and Irish Poets 2017. His poetry has been shortlisted for The White Review’s Poets Prize 2022, The Magma Open Pamphlet Competition 2020, and the Bridport Prize several times. His work was also highly commended in the Winchester Poetry Prize 2020 and has poem ‘Space Was a Material’ was awarded the Dorset Award as part of the Bridport Prize 2018. Through the support of the Word Space programme, he is working towards his first pamphlet publication, alongside challenging and developing his writing. Simon is keen to meet other writers based in the South West and take advantage of the industry insights offered through the Word Space year.

  • Clare Reddaway writes short stories and plays. Recent highlights include being long-listed (top 50) for the BBC National Short Story Awards 2021, short-listed for the Bridport Prize 2020 and publication of standalone short The Guts of a Mackerel by Fly on the Wall Press, 2021. Clare’s plays have been performed throughout the UK, including runs at the Edinburgh Festival and in London. Clare also creates site-specific live story events with her company A Word In Your Ear. Clare used her Word Space year to create a longer form prose piece, and is delighted that her novella has been accepted for publication by Fairlight Books. She is now developing her second piece, which she is daring to call a short novel. She lives in Bath.

  • Helen lives in Devon. Her recent poetry has been published in Artemis, Exclamat!on, Orbis, Reach, South, Line breaks, Tears in the Fence, The Guardian (Letters) and in anthologies: Moor Poets 111 & 1V and New Contexts 2 & 3. She was placed third in the Teignmouth Poetry Festival (2021) and fourth in the Kent and Sussex Poetry Competition (2022) and was shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize (2016 and 2019). Wordspace is supporting Helen to develop her debut pamphlet, shortlisted by Paper Swans and longlisted by Cinnamon Press this year. She is also working on a collaborative project, Unearthing Dartmoor, with members of Moor Poets and artists from Markmakers, leading to an exhibition in 2023. She is now beginning new work on a river sequence. “Wordspace is really helping me develop confidence in my work and is also great for networking opportunities both locally and nationally”.

  • Amy is a Bristol-based writer, creative producer and researcher and who is currently editing her novel, Seeds, with the support of the Word Space programme. Seeds is the story of Ru who swims the length of the river Thames to save the wood where she has lived alone for the past forty years from a new road development and is about loss, nature and protest. Amy’s writing has previously been shortlisted for the Dundee International Writing Prize and the Lucy Cavendish Prize. Through Word Space, Amy is enjoying the opportunity to work with her mentor to polish her manuscript and meeting fellow writers.

  • Tom is a multidisciplinary artist, writer and community worker. They’ve been writing and performing poetry as T.S. IDIOT since 2015, inspired by the DIY punk scene and grassroots communities of the South West and beyond. Tom has written pieces for radio (BBC Arts), stage (Half Moon Theatre and Down Stage Write) and international anthologies as well as community theatre and self-published zines. This year, Tom is working on their debut collection of poetry (Back To The Fuchsia), supported in the editing process by Rosie Garland (their Word Space mentor). She’s amazing! It’s been a perfect pairing of queer, punk poetry chit chat.

  • Born in London, Helen has lived in Cornwall for over 20 years. She started writing creatively in 2020 and in January 2022, she published ‘1562’, a sequence of 6 poems voicing the imagined experiences of black women living in C16th and C17th British ports. During the Word Space year so far she has particularly enjoyed working to deadlines and receiving feedback from professional writers and peers. This has helped her to clarify what and why she wants to write – and how she would like her ideas to be conveyed. As a consequence, Helen has spent the past few months exploring how she might extend her love of poetry into poetic writing for theatre. She has also been made aware of the impressive number of supporting networks, agencies and organisations offering support and advice to writers from the Word Space regular industry sessions. This has included grant awarding bodies and high profile publishing houses. Most of all, it has been fantastic to feel part of a group, easily identifiable by its contagious passion for words, experimentation and supporting others.

  • Kate Wilson graduated from the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Exeter in 2021. She was selected to take part in a workshop series with Anna-Maria Murphy at The Writers’ Block in Cornwall and commissioned to write a short story for their podcast series, Bedtime Stories for Grown-ups, which was broadcast in February. Her stories have been published or are forthcoming in the Bath Short Story Award Anthology and Riptide. She is currently working on a novel and enjoying input and feedback from her mentor and Word Space cohorts and feeling part of that writer community.

We partnered with five organisations to help extend the reach of the programme to underrepresented voices. The partner organisations are The Bookery, an independent bookshop and writing hub in Crediton, Devon; Dialect, working with writers in rural Gloucestershire; Out on the Page, nurturing and supporting LGBTQ+ writers; Little Toller Books, publishers and booksellers specialising in themes around rurality and nature writing, and Speaking Volumes Live Literature Productions, which specialises in presenting underrepresented voices and reaching diverse audiences. Each partner organisation nominated a participant to mentor for the Word Space programme.

The regular workshop leader for Word Space is the brilliant poet, playwright and skilled facilitator, Tolu Agbelusi, who hosted our online networking sessions for the Quay Words / Poetry Africa collaboration in 2021. Tolu is the author of Locating Strongwoman (Jacaranda Books 2020). She is the founder of Home Sessions, a poetry development program for young Black poets and she also facilitates a variety of workshops for schools, universities and festivals. We also have an excellent group of mentors for this year’s cohort.

Meet the mentors

  • Virginia Baily is the author of three novels: Africa Junction, Early One Morning, and The Fourth Shore. She won the McKitterick prize in 2012 for her debut novel and her work has been translated into thirteen languages. Early One Morning was a Sunday Times bestseller and was dramatized on BBC Radio 4. Her award-winning short stories have been widely published. She is the co-editor of Riptide short story journal. She is currently working on a novel set in Exeter.

  • J. R. Carpenter is an artist, writer, and researcher working across performance, print, and digital media. Her digital poem The Gathering Cloud won the New Media Writing Prize 2016. Her print collection An Ocean of Static was highly commended by the Forward Prizes 2018. Her recent collection This is a Picture of Wind was one of The Guardian’s best poetry books of 2020. She is a fellow of the Eccles Centre at the British Library and the Moore Institute at NUI Galway. She is currently the Writer in Residence at University of Alberta 2020—2021.

  • Tracy Darnton is a writer for children and young adults. Her most recent thriller, Ready or Not, is out in May. Having graduated with distinction in 2015, Tracy now teaches as an Associate Lecturer on the MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. She’s looking forward to being part of Word Space.

  • Rosie Garland writes long & short fiction, poetry & hybrid works that fall between and outside definition. She’s also singer in post-punk band The March Violets. With a passion for language nurtured by public libraries, her award-winning work has been widely published. New poetry collection What Girls do the Dark (Nine Arches Press) is out now. Latest novel The Night Brother was described by The Times as “a delight…with shades of Angela Carter.” In 2019, Val McDermid named her one of the UK’s most compelling LGBT writers.

  • Alyson Hallett is the current EarthArt Fellow in the Earth Sciences department of the University of Bristol where she is working with vulcanologists on the impact of meteors. Her latest pamphlet, Covid/Corvid was co-written with Penelope Shuttle and is published by Broken Sleep Books. Alyson is a Hawthornden Fellow and part-time lecturer at Falmouth Art School and UWE. She lives near Bath, loves to walk and swim in the sea, and is deeply committed to collaborative practice.

  • Tiffany Murray’s novels are Diamond Star Halo, Happy Accidents and Sugar Hall. She has a series of short stories on BBC Radio 4, ‘Huldur’s Café’, and is currently working on a crime novel, The Girl Who Spoke to Birds. Tiffany is also completing a memoir, You, Me, and The Rock and Roll Cook, about growing up in Monmouthshire with rock stars in the kitchen. She is a recipient of the Roger Deakin Award for nature writing from the Society of Authors, and has been an International Hay Festival Fiction fellow, a Fulbright scholar, and a Senior Lecturer. Tiffany founded and directs Hay Festival’s development program for Welsh writers, ‘Writers at Work.’

  • Jon Stock is a full-time author, specialising first in spy novels and, in recent years, psychological thrillers written under the name J. S. Monroe. His first novel, The Riot Act (Serpent’s Tail, 1997), was shortlisted by the Crime Writers’ Association for its debut novel award, and his ‘Daniel Marchant’ spy trilogy, which began with Dead Spy Running (HarperCollins, 2009), was optioned as a film by Warner Bros. Jon Stock lives in Wiltshire with his wife, a photographer, and they have three adult children. His J. S. Monroe novels are set in a village not dissimilar to his own and play on the contrast between the county’s beautiful, Neolithic landscape and its sinister ‘deep state’ undercurrents. He is currently the Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at Mansfield College, Oxford.

  • Emma Timpany was born and grew up in the far south of New Zealand and has lived in Cornwall for twenty years. Her publications are the short story collections Three Roads, Cornish Short Stories: A Collection of Contemporary Cornish Writing (co-editor), The Lost of Syros and Over the Dam, and a novella, Travelling in the Dark. Her writing has won awards including the Society of Authors’ Tom-Gallon Trust Award.