Aston has become the first university to work with the Birmingham-based Brit Writers’ Awards (BWA) in the pilot project of a nationwide University Creative Writing Group.
This pioneering national initiative aims to help staff and students from all backgrounds and ages to pursue creative writing and also offers support through writing groups and a seminar series based around creative writing and the publishing world. This initiative, which has been developed between BWA and the University, will then be used to encourage other universities to replicate and follow Aston’s lead.
The BWA was launched in 2009 by Imran Akram, the founder of the now internationally acclaimed Muslim Writers' Awards (MWA) and aims to encourage and inspire unpublished and self-published writers of all ages.
Prof Helen Higson, who formally launched the group, explains: “I was delighted when Imran approached Aston to be the first University to partner with this exciting BWA project. He was keen to work with a university without a humanities department, to encourage staff and students to pursue creative writing. The project is also very much part of Crossing Boundaries: Aston’s Year of Ethnicity & Culture as the University will be asking staff and students to cross boundaries with their writing.”
The first meeting of the staff writing group was held on 17 February. Imran Akram, CEO of BWA, was at the meeting and spoke to the group about the Brit Writers’ Awards. Aston’s Royal Literary Fund Fellow Jane Draycott was also present and spoke to staff about why she started writing, her experiences, and tips for writing.
Helen says: “The first meeting of the staff writing group was advertised to all staff and I was delighted when 12 members of staff signed up! The group is made up of both academic and support staff, all with varying experiences of creative writing. Some have already written half a novel whilst others have not written since school but are keen to start again. The support of BWA has been invaluable in getting us started and it will spur us on towards publication. We hope other universities will benefit from it.”
Imran Akram, CEO of BWA commented: “This partnership is incredibly important and fits perfectly with the BWA’s aim to get everyone into creative writing. Brit Writers’ Awards are thrilled to partner with Aston University in Birmingham who are championing their national Creative Writing Programme for Universities.” Aspects has since learnt that Imran was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm the staff showed at the first meeting!
Staff have signed up to the group for various reasons: to get help on how to approach publishers, academic staff wanting to polish their academic writing and those who just want to write for pleasure. The group will now meet once a month and new members are always welcome to join. A student writing group will be started later in the year.
For further information, or to join the Aston staff writing group, please get in touch with Helen Higson on ext 3191 or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further information about the Brit Writers’ Awards.
Last July, Catherine Cooper, a retired Shropshire teacher, won at the inaugural Brit Writers’ Awards, winning an impressive £10,000. On winning the award, Catherine signed with Oxford-based publisher Infinite Ideas. Her winning book, The Golden Acorn, first in the Jack Brenin series, was published last year.
Words by Louise Russell
18 March 2011