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writers' hub
The BIRKBECK Writing Programme

Professor Russell Celyn Jones, MA Programme Director

Why we write and why we read, spring from the same source. At the Birkbeck Writing Programme we see our role as preserving and promoting both of these activities. Like music or drama students, people study creative writing to see how far their talent can get them - and while many of our alumni are being signed by mainstream publishing houses, such as Jonathan Cape, Macmillan, Harper Collins and Sceptre – we are mindful that writing is as much a humanities subject as a vocational one. Our intimate, seminar-based approach to studying literature is a view from the inside, with an eye to reckoning how fiction works and how the world is represented in it. This is why, besides showing talent, we require our students to demonstrate a long-standing love affair with books.

          Our courses attract people of all ages, with a wide range of life experience, not just from London but from around the world, and who wish to pursue a private passion communally for a year or more. The Programme offers them the opportunity to read and ‘make’ literature under the supervision of published authors - authors who act as catalysts for new voices in both established and evolving forms of production. The hundred or so students enrolled on our courses each year create a live literary environment, of which the Writers’ Hub is just one example, and where as emerging writers they will begin to discover an audience.

 

Russell Celyn Jones is the author of Soldiers and Innocents (Jonathan Cape, 1990), Small Times (Viking Penguin, 1992), An Interference of Light (Viking Penguin, 1995), The Eros Hunter (Little, Brown, 1998), Surface Tension (Little, Brown, 2001), Ten Seconds from the Sun (Little, Brown, 2006), The Ninth Wave (Seren, 2010). He is widely anthologised as a short-story writer and a regular reviewer for The Times. He has served as a judge for the John Llewellyn Rhys prize, the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje award and the Man-Booker prize.

Professor Russell Celyn Jones, Programme Director

Russell Celyn Jones’ novels are: Soldiers and Innocents (Jonathan Cape, 1990), Small Times (Viking Penguin, 1992), An Interference of Light (Viking Penguin, 1995), The Eros Hunter (Little, Brown, 1998), Surface Tension (Little, Brown, 2001), Ten Seconds from the Sun (Little, Brown, 2006), The Ninth Wave (Seren, 2010). He is widely anthologised as a short-story writer and a regular reviewer for The Times. He has served as a judge for the John Llewellyn Rhys prize, the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatji award and the Man-Booker prize.

Julia Bell, Writers' Hub Project Director

Julia Bell, MA (UEA), is a senior lecturer and novelist. Co-editor of The Creative Writing Coursebook (Macmillan 2001) and author of two widely translated novels Massive (Young Picador 2002) and Dirty Work (Young Picador 2007). She also established and is the managing editor of Birkbeck’s literary magazine, The Mechanics’ Institute Review and the Writers' Hub website. Her work reflects an interest in feminist readings of culture, the problems and paradoxes of British regional identity and the need to invigorate and champion independent publishing in an age of globalized media.

Colin Teevan, BA Course Director

Colin Teevan’s plays include How Many Miles to Basra? (West Yorkshire Playhouse, winner of Clarion Award Best New Play 2006), Amazonia (with Paul Heritage for the Young Vic), The Diver and The Bee (both with Hideki Noda for Soho Theatre and Setagaya Theatre, Tokyo), Monkey! (Young Vic, Dundee Rep and West Yorkshire), Missing Persons: Four Tragedies and Roy Keane (Assembly Rooms and Trafalgar Studios) Alcmaeon in Corinth (Live! Theatre, Newcastle) and The Walls (National Theatre). His adaptations include Kafka’s Monkey (Young Vic, Wharf, Sydney and Malthouse, Mebourne), Don Quixote (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Peer Gynt (National Theatre of Scotland, Dundee Rep and Barbican) and Svejk. His translations include Bacchai (National Theatre), Iph… (Lyric Theatre, Belfast), Cuckoos and Marathon (Gate Theatre). Colin has written over ten plays for BBC Radios 3 and 4 and is an Artistic Associate of West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Toby Litt

Toby Litt is a senior lecturer on the MA and is the author of the novels: Beatniks, Corpsing, deadkidsongs, Finding Myself, Ghost Story, Hospital, I play the drums in a band called okay, Journey into Space, and King Death. He has also published two books of short stories:  Adventures in Capitalism and Exhibitionism. He was chosen as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists in 2003. Along with Ali Smith, he edited the New Writing 13 anthology. He reviews for The Guardian and The Financial Times, and appears regularly on Radio 3’s The Verb.  He is a member of English PEN. His website is at www.tobylitt.com.

Jeremy Sheldon

Jeremy Sheldon's feature film credits include Best Laid Plans (2012), Montana (2013) and Allies (2014). He also a writer on Gran Theft Ortho (co-written with Nick Knowles and John Miller) and Writers Retreat (co-written with CM Taylor), both of which  are scheduled to shoot in September 2014. Jeremy also teaches on the MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck and at the London Film Academy and works in a development role for a number of producers, including Mark Foligno (The King's Speech) and Deepak Sikka (Moon). Jeremy is also the author of two works of fiction, The Comfort Zone (2002) and The Smiling Affair (2005), both published by Jonathan Cape. You can find out more about his work at www.wordspersecond.com.

Benjamin Wood

Benjamin Wood is a Lecturer in Creative Writing. A tutor and first-year convenor for the BA Creative Writing, he also co-ordinates Birkbeck’s Certificate of Higher Education in Creative Writing. In 2004, he was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to attend the MFA Creative Writing programme at the University of British Columbia, Canada. During his tenure as fiction editor of Canadian literary journal, PRISM international, the publication was awarded the Writers’ Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize. Benjamin’s short fiction has appeared in several international journals, including Event, Geist, and Red Ink. His novel, The Bellwether Revivals, was shortlisted for the inaugural Sony Reader Award category at the 2010 Dylan Thomas Prize and will be published by Simon & Schuster in spring 2012.

Liane Strauss

Liane’s books of poetry include Leaving Eden (2010) and Frankie, Alfredo,(2009). Selections of her poems have been included in the The Art of Wiring (2011),  Ask for It by Name (2008) and The Like of It (2005) and she is represented in Future Welcome: The Moosehead Anthology X (2005) and on Lifelines, Poets for Oxfam (CD) (2006) as well as in the forthcoming Split Screen: Poetry Inspired by Film and Television. She is a guest poet on Clive James's Website, reads her work in and around London and abroad and is published regularly in magazines on both sides of the Atlantic as well as online. Her next collection, We’re All Fine, is due out in 2012.

Richard Hamblyn

Richard Hamblyn is a lecturer and third-year convenor on Birkbeck’s Creative Writing BA. His books include The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies (Picador, 2001), which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize; Terra: Tales of the Earth (Picador, 2009), a study of natural disasters based on contemporary eyewitness accounts; and the anthology The Art of Science: A Natural History of Ideas (Picador, 2011). He also edited the Penguin Classics edition of Daniel Defoe’s first book, The Storm (1703), an eyewitness account of the worst storm in British history.

Luke Williams

Luke Williams won the Saltire Prize for his first novel The Echo Chamber (2011) and he is currently working on a second book that tells the story of the island of Diego Garcia. Luke’s writing is research-based and seeks, via collaborative practice and the use of selected constraints, to close the formal gap between history and story. His work is informed by studies in History at Edinburgh University and Creative Writing at UEA. He co-organises the occasional live literature night, Plum.

David Eldridge

David Eldridge’s plays have been performed at major new writing institutions in the UK, including The Royal Court Theatre, the Bush Theatre, the Finborough Theatre and the National Theatre. His stage adaptation of the film Festen transferred from the Almeida Theatre to the West End and Broadway. His play Market Boy, informed by his childhood working on a stall at Romford Market, played at the National Theatre's largest space, the Olivier in 2006; Under the Blue Sky was revived at the Duke of York's Theatre starring Chris O'Dowd, Catherine Tate and Francesca Annis in 2008; The Knot of the Heart played at the Almeida Theatre in 2011 and starred Lisa Dillon, for whom the role of Lucy was written; In Basildon, played at the Royal Court Theatre in 2012. In April, the Royal Exchange Theatre will open his new version of Miss Julie by August Strindberg, starring Maxine Peake.