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Diverse voices: creative writing today

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 - 17:30 to 19:30
Wednesday, November 21, 2018 - 17:30 to 19:30
Wednesday, December 5, 2018 - 17:30 to 19:30

Diverse voices: creative writing today.
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These seminars will be looking at key issues relating to diversity and artistic practice in creative writing today. The importance of representing a range of different voices in the public sphere and ensuring that the fields of writing, publishing, and editing reflect such diversity has never been more relevant. This series will focus on fiction, poetry, and the current state of the publishing industry, and ways in which issues of identity, race, class and disability are addressed by creative writers.

The themes for these seminars are:

Seminar one: Diverse Voices in Publishing

Tuesday November 6th, Room 246

Reflections on the current state of play relating to diversity in the publishing industry from the perspective of an industry commentator, a literary agent and writer and MA student

Listen to the seminar:

Danuta Kean, Journalist, Books Editor, Mslexia

Danuta Kean is a highly respected journalist and publishing expert whose work appears across a wide variety of publications, including the Guardian and Daily Mail. She has edited four influential reports about diversity within publishing and theatre, most recently: in 2015 Writing the Future: Black and Asian novelists and publishers in the UK marketplace; and in 2016 Centre Stage, a report into diversity within the UK theatre on behalf of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation. She is also books editor of Mslexia and appears regularly at literary festivals and events to discuss trends in publishing.


Niki Chang, The Good Literary Agency

Niki Chang is a literary agent at The Good Literary Agency. She joined TGLA in 2018 after working at Aitken Alexander Associates, first in the film, TV and stage department and latterly in the books department. She represents writers of both fiction and non-fiction as well as a handful of poets. Authors she represents include Emma Glass, Will Harris, Raymond Antrobus and Alex Holder. For more information about The Good Literary Agency, see 

Lisa Smith, winner of the BAME short story prize

Lisa Smith has worked as a documentary filmmaker and currently studying for an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. In 2017 she won the Guardian 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize, and is now writing on her first novel.

Seminar two:

Poets on Their Craft: The Difficult Second Collection

Wednesday November 21st, Room G37

Writing a second collection of poems presents a unique opportunity for an author, one that is both exciting and potentially fraught. Just as bands can struggle with the proverbial ‘difficult second album’, poets often find that writing a second poetry book raises new questions about their creative process, style, approach, voice, and themes. Three acclaimed BAME poets will discuss the challenges and pleasures of working on a second collection, addressing such topics as how their writing changed between collections, what unexpected developments or obstacles arose, and how their procedures, poetics, and critical sensibilities were shaped by the experience of being published.

Listen to the seminar:


Speakers: Khairani Barokka (Goldsmiths College, London), Hannah Lowe (Brunel University), and Vidyan Ravinthiran (University of Birmingham).

Khairani Barokka

Khairani Barokka is a writer, poet, and artist whose work has been presented extensively in thirteen countries, and who is the recipient of six residencies and multiple grants. Her poetry collections are Rope (Nine Arches Press, 2017) and the interdisciplinary poetry-art book Indigenous Species (Tilted Axis, 2016), and she is co-editor of the anthology Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back (Nine Arches, 2017). Okka was an NYU Tisch Departmental Fellow for her MA and Vermont Studio Center’s first Indonesian writer-in-residence, and is a UNFPA Indonesian Young Leader Driving Social Change for arts practice and research. She is currently a PhD by practice researcher in the Visual Cultures Department at Goldsmiths College, London, and a member of the collective Malika's Poetry Kitchen.

Hannah Lowe

Hannah Lowe is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Brunel University and Poet-in-Residence at Keats House, London. Her first poetry collection, Chick (Bloodaxe, 2013), won the Michael Murphy Award for Best First Collection and was shortlisted for the Forward, Aldeburgh, and Seamus Heaney prizes. She was named a Next Generation poet by the Poetry Book Society in 2014, and her second poetry collection, Chan, was published by Bloodaxe in 2016. Her memoir Long Time, No See (Periscope, 2015) was featured as BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week. She is currently a commissioned writer on the Colonial Countryside Project with the University of Leicester and Peepal Tree Press, and her chapbook The Neighbourhood will be published next year by Outspoken Press.

Vidyan Ravinthiran

Vidyan Ravinthiran is a Senior Lecturer in North American Literature at the University of Birmingham. His first book of poems, Grun-tu-molani (Bloodaxe, 2014), was shortlisted for the Forward First Collection Prize, among others; his second collection, The Million-Petalled Flower of Being Here, is out from Bloodaxe next year. His monograph Elizabeth Bishop’s Prosaic (Bucknell UP, 2015) won both the University English First Book Prize and the Warren-Brooks Award for Outstanding Literary Criticism. He has written essays for outlets including The Poetry Review, The Telegraph, and Poetry (Chicago), and is co-editor of Prac Crit, an online magazine of poetry and poetics. He also recently completed his first novel, which is being represented by the Wylie Agency.

Seminar three: Reflecting Diversity in the Creative Writing PhD

Wednesday, December 5th, Room G34

Former PhD Creative writing students talking about the way they have handled disability in their novels, and also the route from writing a PhD novel to getting it published.  

Listen to the seminar:


Emma Claire Sweeney

Emma Claire Sweeney has won Arts Council and Royal Literary Fund awards, and has published in the likes of The Paris Review, TIME, and The Washington Post, as well as almost all the British and Irish broadsheets. After graduating from Cambridge University, she gained an MA with distinction from the University of East Anglia, and won the faculty studentship for her PhD at the Open University. She now teaches creative writing at City University and New York University's London campus. Her debut novel, Owl Song at Dawn, won Nudge Literary Book of the Year 2016. It was also published in China and Germany in 2018, while her second book A Secret Sisterhood (2017) is non-fiction exploring the hidden literary friendships of Austen, Brontë, Eliot and Woolf. Emma co-wrote it with her own friend, Emily Midorikawa, with whom she also runs – a website on female literary friendship. 

Ed Hogan

Ed Hogan is from Derby, and now lives in Brighton, where he works in a library.  He has written four novels, including Blackmoor, which won the Desmond Elliott Prize For his PhD, he researched D/deafness, cinemagoing, and trauma, at the Open University. His novel The Electric, which formed the creative element of his PhD, will be published by John Murray in May 2019.


Jarred McGinnis

Jarred McGinnis is the co-founder of The Special Relationship, which was chosen for the British Council’s International Literature Showcase. He was the creative director for Moby-Dick Unabridged, a four-day immersive multimedia reading of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick at the Southbank Centre, involving hundreds of participants. His short fiction has been commissioned for BBC Radio 4 and appeared in respected journals in the UK, Canada, USA and Ireland. He is an Associate Writer for Spread the Word, a mentor for the Word Factory, a fellow of the London Library’s T S Eliot Emerging Writer Programme and a Writer-in-Residence for First Story. He also has a PhD in Artificial Intelligence, but mostly he inspires the able-bodied by using public transport and taking his daughters to the playground.


Contact Us

Contact Derek Neale or Ed Hogan by email: 

The Postal Address is:

Department of English and Creative Writing
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes

Tel +44-1908-652092