It is finally here!
The beautifully designed and written “You is for University” creative anthology was launched on a slightly rainy Friday night last week, up at the brilliantly eclectic Nottingham Writer’s Studio.
As The Student Wordsmith (TSW) Web Assistant and resident blogging ‘genius’, I felt that it was pretty important, nay my duty, to attend the event and chat to some really lovely people whilst celebrating amazing new creative talent.
Sophie Louise-Hyde, 23, and founder of TSW said: “You is for University is a unique collection of poetry and short stories from students and graduates across the country and even internationally. It contains creative pieces covering a wide range of student-related topics, that look at University life with a fresh eye.”
Sophie founded TSW in 2012 and this year won her first major achievement, the Graduate Enterprise Award from Loughborough University. (Not bad going for a PhD student who just loves writing and encouraging others to do the same!)
However, this anthology doesn’t just belong to Sophie, but to a number of brilliant students who shared their thoughts and experiences with TSW in order to present a realistic idea of what the ‘university experience’ is really like.
Emily Fedorowycz, an English and Creative Writing student, said:
“Sophie is really lovely and she has created something really amazing. I did not expect to get picked so I was really happy to see that they had chosen my piece to appear in the book. My poem is about the drinking culture at University, but is seen through the eyes of a man who rushes to grow up. It ends with him telling his son to savour the moments, not just to drink it all away.”
She says that her initial inspiration for the piece came from her first year at University when she was going out a lot with friends.
However, now she is heading into her final year she will be spending more time among the library books than out at the bars…
Emily says: “I actually run the Creative Writing society at UEA but I find that, being at uni, you write all the time but in a certain way, so it is really nice to get back for writing for myself. I have my creative writing dissertation plan to sort out soon so with that and work experience I will be pretty busy!”
Contributors were initially invited to submit pieces to the TSW website and were subject to a pretty strict judging process in order to achieve the right balance and tone for the book.
Barton Mathews admits he never studied poetry or anything creative and will be soon winging his way to New Zealand, having just graduated with a Business Degree.
“I never studied poetry so I don’t even know what my style is called. I was on work placement in Wembley and was bored one day, so I looked out the window and decided I was going to write about London. I love it because there is so much going on.”
“The other piece was written on music as I wanted to learn the piano so I decided to go down to St. Pancras station and have a go at playing the open pianos there. I went just before Christmas, late at night, and attempted to play Fairytale of New York, not ambitious at all, and one little old lady said ‘that was very good is it yours’ and I was like ‘umm…’ so I felt very creative from that experience.”
It is pretty clear that all the writers from this anthology are fun, fresh and, at times, very, very funny. Natalie Moores, writer and performance poet, and also co-founder of London group Part_Time Poets, read her piece Attitudes towards Sex Education and really got the crowd going!
Nat spoke to me and explained: “The creative brief was to write about something related to University and my immediate thought was, isn’t he obvious one for students to do with sex? I even told Sophie I was going to do a little STD joke tonight. She did laugh.”
“I just presumed everyone would have written something about this, I mean it isn’t that much of a controversial topic but I am glad people found it funny. I think it is clear from the variety of work in the book that you do get a real mix of experiences, not all of them good.
The other side of the coin with university is that you are away from home for a long time, so things do happen (such as bereavement or illness), and you aren’t there. You’re at uni thinking “well I should go out because everyone else is” so at times it can feel like a total bubble.”
The launch not only celebrated those born performers, but those brave souls whose first time it was reading anything out loud to an audience.
The atmosphere was warm, welcoming and kind as each reading was met with the same amount of applause and captive interest as the one before.
Alex Harlequin, who wrote a beautiful piece called ‘Nutshell’ said:
“Sometimes it just happens and inspiration strikes me from things in life, other times I try to focus on something and then create a feeling or experience from there. I was pretty nervous about going up on stage tonight as I have never done this before but now I am so glad that I did it.”
For Sophie it is a dream come true to be hosting her own book launch so, perhaps, it is only fitting that the final words should go to her:
“I believe it is really important for students (and graduates) to have an outlet for creativity. After all, everyone can be creative and creativity is a great skill in any job or walk of life – it allows you to think about things and do them in a different way to normal, in a way that might, in the long run, be a better option. The Student Wordsmith is so important in allowing students and graduates that outlet and practice in a writing context.”