Sunday, 25 August 2013

Unchained; an anthology of liberation

The Unchained anthology, out in October, has gone to press. All the members of the Bristol Women Writers have produced one or two short stories, poems and snatches of fact, for this stunning anthology of writing. It was brought together in honour of something writers need through their writing lives; libraries. 
Bristol Central Library is celebrating its 400th year in 2013 and the anthology has been written to celebrate that fact. 
Bristol Women Writers is bulging with talent; Shirley Wright was the national winner of the Telegraph Poetry for Performance Competition, judged by by Andrew Motion and Ben Okri. Shirley (Time out of Mind), Ali Bacon  (A Kettle of Fish) and myself (Touch Luck) are all published by local press ThornBerry, and Jean Burnett’s very funny book Who Needs Mr Darcey? is out from Sphere. In the Moors is the latest success for the group but we’re not expecting it to be the last, and come October, we’ll be celebrating the success of our anthology with a reading in the library, as part of the Bristol Festival of Literature.

Unchained was so named after the group discovered that, when the library opened 400 years ago, the books were actually chained to their shelves. At that time, Bristol was also a slave port, moving people in chains across the Atlantic, a theme I cover in my children’s book Tough Luck. We felt that turning these facts on their head expressed completely the way we felt about our writing; that it unchained us.
And to prove just how unchained we are as writers, it was our choice that all the pieces in the anthology have 'library' as their theme…but don’t think for one moment that this means they are all about getting your books back on time! There are murders in there, and ghosts, and history, legend and dystopian futures. There are sharp and witty stories and dreamy and lyrical stories.
For instance, when I first knew what the theme would be, I was immediately reminded of the Library at Alexandria. I heard about this wonder of the ancient world when I bought my first Tarot pack when I was twenty. The legend is that the 22 Major Arcarna of the Tarot (the High Priestess, the Fool, the Moon…) were brought into being as the library burnt to the ground. The great minds of the day used a pictorial form to represent – and hide – all the esoteric knowledge the library contained. In that form, it spread through the world and is used to gain enlightenment to this day.
It's a lovely legend, but how could I turn that into a short story for the 21st century? 
You'll have to wait to read the anthology to find out.
The foreword to Unchained is written by acclaimed short story writer Tania Hershman (The White Road, My Mother is an Upright Piano)…
“These inventive, evocative tales are a truly wondrous tribute
not just to Bristol’s venerable 400-year-old library service but to book palaces of every age, shape and kind.”
The anthology will be launched on October 23rd as part of the Bristol Festival of Literature during Bristol library service’s 400th anniversary. Join Bristol Women Writers with special guest Tania Hershman. Join us between 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Central Library to discover how centuries of well-thumbed pages and a remarkable building can liberate the imagination. Admission is free and profits from the sale of the book will be donated to The National Literacy Trust.

No comments:

Post a Comment