cultural exchanges week

A little black book, notes from an editor and poems in B minor, just some of the beautifully unique publications from 3rd year DMU Creative Writing students.


A cathedral in flames, a scientist in love, an editor with a sharp tongue, and a mouse on a quest for treasure. And all under one roof! Welcome to the Demon Crew’s Student Publications Launch, held at De Montfort University’s prestigious Cultural Exchanges event.

The third year Creative Writing students have produced everything from pamphlets, to websites, to recordings and are now proudly (and without swearing in terror) presenting their professionally published work in front of friends, colleagues, and lecturers.  And I must say, there is an impressive array.  So before they all disappear off to the pub to celebrate, let’s take a look at some of the fantastic final pieces, and see how the groups managed to evade the nightmare of every Dickens, Shelley, and Poe: the dreaded and cumbersome writer’s block.


If you are deeply offended at sarcasm being called the ‘Lowest Form of Wit’, and want to find evidence to prove otherwise, delve into the brilliantly funny pages of ‘Notes From The Editor’, a highly original piece.


Written by Jack Arkell, Kirsty Baker, Jessica Clarke-Wheatley, and Matthew Goostrey, the book features a collection of poems that the grumpy editor of fictional ‘Prestige Magazine’ rejected from his publication.


The poems, written by “cliché-loving, overly emotional thesaurus-botherers”, all feature some “incredibly helpful feedback” from the dear editor. Except, of course, the comments are of no use at all and just tear into the poor, deluded poets.


It’s a brilliant concept.


But how did the team dream up these pathetic Armitage-wannabees and the cantankerous copyeditor?


“The idea started when I sent a few poems out to some publications, but didn’t receive any feedback. I started to think about the editors’ comments, and what they would write,” explains Jack.


“It was good fun to slate even my own work, although we deliberately made the poems bad!”


However, if you don’t wander lonely as a cloud, and instead can be found wandering round art galleries on the hunt for new talent, may I introduce you to ‘The Small Print’, a gorgeous concertina book featuring poetry and short stories that have been placed onto posters.


Sarah Tillett, Sarah Beckett, Sally Parkin and Matthew King certainly live up to their title of ‘Creative Writers’, and have produced a work so detailed, your eye could get lost among the fine patterns and poignant poems.


“The idea was to come up with a product that would help to make writing more accessible through a visual medium,” explains Sarah Tillett.


“In today’s society we are overwhelmed with images in the media and online, and we wanted to use this to share literary work.”


So, the group put on their thinking caps and Asked Jeeves’s arch enemy…


“We investigated the most searched topics, quotes, and images on Google and found that love and change were requested the most. We used the topic of love and then chose poems or short stories we thought suited the theme, before creating poster ideas.”


Indeed the work contains an array of characters, from a traveller who finds that even the most tranquil scenery can bring a flash of unwanted memories, to a man placed in a clever juxtaposition between the mundane duty of tying a shoelace and a life-changing decision.


And from the delicate print of pink roses to the frantic dark bloodlines flooding from a heart, each poster complements its work beautifully.


The group has had a positive response to their concertina, and will be selling their publication at States of Independence on March 15.


Finally, if you want to listen to something simply exquisite, than play the CD entitled ‘Fantaisie Poétique in B Minor’.


Complied by talented musician Katharina Kalinowski, the CD features her soft voice reading a melancholic and mysterious poem to the sounds of Chopin, while she has also produced a music sheet seeing the words of the poem replace the notes on the stave.


“My work is a fusion between poetry and music,” explains Katharina.  “You can play the piece as a song as well as read it as a poem”.


“I was inspired by my Creative Writing lecturers, who are always telling us to listen to the rhythm of a verse.


“I therefore took musical indications, such as breaks, volume, and pace, and integrated them into the poem. The music also contains Italian indications, such as rallentando (which means the music is slowing down), so I spread the words out on the stave.”


Indeed, the changing spirit of the music was inspiration for Katharina’s poem.


“It’s about a woman sitting in a room, who is lonely and melancholic, mirroring the key of B minor. However, when the key changes to major, she smells the scent of lavender and is reminded of a memory of summer, when times were happier”.


And with such talent on display, the students are looking to the future.


Emily Bentley, co-author of ‘The Little Black Book’ said: “ I am proud of what we have achieved and optimistic about my career.


“I hope to publish more of my work in the future and write dystopian and historical novels.”


Indeed, the talents of Emily and her group members, Shaun Knight and Victoria June Dellow, shine through in ‘The Little Black Book’, a story of “broken bonds, twisted tales and ruined romance”.


“The theme originally started as a joke about producing a little black book of addresses, and then turned into a collection of poems and short stories based on the theme of relationships,” explains Emily.


The book delves into the crossed paths of two lovers in reincarnation romance, examines the surprising lives of a player, a patient, a pedestrian and a priest, and allows an intimate and touching glance into the memories of Dellow’s past.


‘The Little Black Book’ is black for a reason, as the book offers an insight into the darker paths of the human conscience.


But to bring the mood up and away from the edges of any cliffhangers, the event has been a great success. The publication launch has really highlighted the fantastic development and growth of Creative Writing students at De Montfort, all of whom are an example of the exceptional creative flair this university produces.  And the day is not only about giving young talent a chance to shine, but about a culmination of three long years of hard work! As proud lecturer Will Buckingham says: “Handing in a dissertation never feels celebratory, so we wanted to get staff and students together for a real celebration instead!” And I think the students have certainly earned one.  The End.


And they all lived happily ever after (with a few hangovers…)