Writers' Blog

@ the University of Birmingham

Spoken-Word session + Open-Mic opportunities

Hello everyone!

Thanks to all those who attended Wednesday’s session on Spoken-Word; your patience while I wrestled (literally and figuratively) with projectors and guild room-booking-forms was much appreciated! Thanks also to all who performed…I am very excited about Grizzly Pear. I realise that the sound wasn’t too great on the videos we watched, so here they are again for you to enjoy at your own leisure:

B Dolan – Still Electric

Anna Freeman – The Gingers

Bohdan Piasecki – Almost Certainly

Birmingham has some great nights of poetry and spoken-word, which are worth checking out either if you want to perform in an open-mic slot, or simply if you want to see some amazing writing at amazing prices in lovely little pubs/theatres/spaces in the city.

The best and most regular are:

Hit The Ode @ The Victoria, John Bright Street. Last Thursday of every month. 7:30 start. £5. http://www.facebook.com/hittheode?fref=ts It features three headliners: one from the Midlands, one from the wider UK scene, and one international guest. Next one is 25/10/12 (day after Grizzly Pear!).

Word-Up @ 6/8 Kafe, Temple Street. Second-to-last Friday of every month. 6:30 start. £FREE! http://www.facebook.com/groups/308610815899229/?fref=ts No headliners, but an abundance of quality open-mic-ers. It’s a very informal, friendly and accommodating night;  perfect place to perform if you’re trying it for the first time, or trying something new. The next one is this Friday 19/10/12: http://www.facebook.com/events/207754896022599/?fref=ts

Speak-Up @ Hare and Hounds, Kings Heath. Sporadically. 7:30 start. £FREE (I think?!). Next one is tomorrow night, 17/10/12 – so pretty much straight after the meeting. A number of us are heading over, so feel free to join the pilgrimage (Kings Heath is a manageable walk from campus, or a very short very cheap shared taxi ride). It’s run by Jodi Ann Bickley, a very popular and successful Brum-based poet who has featured acts like Ed Sheeran and Scroobius Pip at this night in the past. Not to be missed! http://www.facebook.com/events/442052325837076/?fref=ts

And of course, last but not least, it’s our very own Grizzly Pear @ Bristol Pear, Selly Oak. 6:30 doors, 7:30 start. 10 open-mic slots available on the door (I anticipate that they’ll go pretty sharply!) and 5 to be dished out at tomorrow’s meeting for Writers’ Bloc members only. Members’ slots are governed by a theme. This time it’s “Loot” – the only rules are that your piece must contain something thieved from another piece of writing (be it a direct quote, a character, concept, idea…anything!). The first of the three this academic year is next Wednesday 24/10/12 http://www.facebook.com/events/358788247541499/?fref=ts – Clayton Blizzard is headlining, and he is very very funny and very very good; an absolute steal at a couple of quid a ticket! The physical tickets will be on sale at tomorrow’s meeting, and I or another committee member will also be popping into Creative Writing lectures to sell them, for those who study it.

See you tomorrow for a workshop session on Self-Publication and Online Serialisation. Should be a good’n. (They’re all good’ns!)

Bye for now.

16/10/2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Flash Fiction- Short and Sweet

Our first themed session of the year was on Flash Fiction, led by Andy Cashmore and Jenna Clake. To get everyone in the short fiction writing mood, the group was given the comfort of Twitter; members were told to imagine that their favourite celebrity had offered the chance to chat with them, meet them, have dinner with them (whatever inspired our writers) in return for a story written in a maximum of 140 characters. If the stories were good, members actually tweeted them.


After this warm-up exercise, a couple of published Flash Fiction stories (including a personal favourite at Writers’ Bloc, Jumper Down by Don Shea http://don-shea.com/jumper-down.html ) were used to help our members grasp what was required to write a good piece of Flash Fiction.  Then it was onto the writing, which we are happy to show off:

Flash Fiction Story 1 – by Adam Halperin

I was sick of this job.

The next guy, Jim, sat in front of me.

I told him.

Already stretched to the limit, Jim’s poor brain simply couldn’t handle the information. It fried the pressure mechanisms in his brain. I pictured one of those cartoons where the guy turns red and smoke comes out of his ears and he makes that teapot sound. It was just too much to take in on top of everything else. And like a broken cash machine, he rejected it. After a few moments, he stood up so suddenly I felt his knees creak. I could see the beads of sweat dripping down his clammy skin. His fingers pressed against the glass coffee table so hard I thought his joints would snap from the pressure. His eyes were wide open and they weren’t blinking, as if someone had sellotaped his eyelids to their sockets. His expression was vacant, and in the small, silent, neon-lit room, I could actually hear his heart pounding in his chest. He wasn’t ready for this. I knew it. He knew it. He started to cry. He just stood there… crying. I felt sick. I looked away. I didn’t want to hear this. His despair reverberated off the breezeblock walls, amplifying it to unbearable levels. I knew what was going to happen next. I watched his eyes flutter around, could see him panicking silently, his brain hard at work in a desperate struggle to avoid facing reality.

He broke away, launched himself out of the door, and sprinted down the hallway.

And I let him go. This was the end of the matter, I told myself. The future was up to him. My involvement was sealed away.

I just sat in my chair. No emotions came to me. No epiphany. There was nothing else to do and nothing else to say.

Flash Fiction Story 2 – by Charlie Dart

It was a perfect day; everything did its job superbly: the rain got everything wet; cars made lots of noise; the cigarettes killed people slowly; and I waited, like I said I would. The hole in my roof was on excellent form, scoring goal after goal into my pots and pans, assisted by the rain. Under my feet the rats did a good job of weakening the foundations. Even the old 60s staircase put in a good effort and creaked incessantly. Me and my stomach did what we do best; it complained and I fed it with bland regularity.

            My ceiling kept me from sleeping.


Members were also given a ‘How To’ Guide, which you can read here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/may/14/how-to-write-flash-fiction

08/10/2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Societies Fair – 6 Word Story Competition

If you visited our bustling stall at the societies fair, you may have entered our six word story competition. This phenomenon originated from a bet made by Ernest Hemmingway in a bar. He definitely won the bet (the bet being that he could not write a story in six words). This was it:

For sale, baby shoes never worn.


Due to fighting amongst the committee members, we decided to have a shortlist and a winner in our competition. Thank you to everyone who submitted their stories on the day.

Here were the runners-up:

‘The lonely poet ate Jelly Babies.’

‘Desire, require, detest, retire, rest, expire.’

‘Persil can remove blood stains, thank God.’


And the winner:

‘You don’t make the rules’         (SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE?)


A big congratulations to our runners up and our winner, who has been notified that they can come and collect their bottle of wine.


02/10/2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Our first, and very full, session of the year

Here are some examples of writing from our very first session of the year. Usually, what we will post on the blog will be an example of what the committee deem to be some of the most successful pieces from the session; however, this time it was a case of what scraps of paper could be found on the floor after playing various writing games. The games worked well and we have posted some of the co-written surrealist-esque nonsense below – the latter of which was written while cellotaped to someone’s back – for everyone to enjoy. I hope you have as much fun reading them as we did writing them…


Piece 1, Various Anonymous

I didn’t know where I was supposed to be. The man on the motorbike said it was straight ahead, but so far I had only found the strength to tell my mother that I was never ever going to study medical science like she wanted me to. When she heard that she was going to die. Oh what a misfortune! Never again would she be able to sing across the valley. The sun rose slowly as if creeping up over the unsuspecting horizon, they stared upwards and a small pink balloon was hovering above them, floating towards the sea, they followed… Later a black pig with brown spots emerged from his inflated head, finally bursting out in the form of a blue translucent jellyfish which floated upwards into the inky sky. Wordlessly he gazed up and obviously an aubergine then chose that moment to gain sentience, meaning that the entire plan became much less sexy.


Piece 2, Various Anonymous 

Tom was partial to dogs, he loved to stroke them in the street
And thought beaches with sand and water were pretty sweet.
He loved a good film, ‘Highlander’ to name but one.
He has small feet, like he’s from Hobbiton.
His favourite colour, blue it is.

28/09/2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Welcome to the Writers’ Blog!

14/05/2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment