Monday, April 22, 2024

Chalkwell Hall Transformed into Pop-Up Essex Writers House

Screenshot 2020-02-16 at 16.12.24

Chalkwell Hall Transformed into Pop-Up Essex Writers House

Chalkwell Hall, based in Chalkwell Park, will be opening its doors to book lovers in March as it transforms into an Essex Writers’ House for the third year running. In partnership with Essex Book Festival 2020, it will host a month of events designed for anyone with a love of literature, from avid book worms to established authors. This month is an opportunity to meet new people, share ideas and get inspired.  There will be writers-in-residence, hot desks in inspiring locations, useful workshops, critical feedback surgeries, opportunities to share work, a chance to hang out and exchange ideas.

At the weekend the ground floor of the Grade II listed Chalkwell Hall will become a cosy Weekend Writers’ Café (open Saturdays & Sundays 11.30 – 15.30) where people can eat, read, swap books, have a coffee and write in the inspiring grounds. An inviting Writers Quiet Room will also be available during café opening hours for you to drop by and work on your next novel or just to do your homework. At 2pm the cafe will host open mic readings of short works. Anyone is welcome to book a slot, bring an audience and share.

The Create 98’s resident screenwriter Richard Kurti, poet/editor Jen Feroze and novelist Sam Lierens are offering writers surgeries to help you progress a piece of writing.

Two ‘hot desks’ with stunning Thames Estuary views are available each day – to be booked by writers on a first come, first served basis. Drawing on Essex’s rich literary heritage the desks are named after two pioneering writers – John Edgell Rickword, war poet & journalist and Margery Allingham a key figure of the ‘Golden Age of Detective Fiction’. You can find out more about Rickword at a talk about his life and times with local journalist & writer Brian Denny.

Essex Book Festival’s 2020 theme is Brave New Worlds, inspired by the 400th anniversary of The Mayflower’s departure for the New World in 1620, which set sail from Harwich. It also marks Essex Book Festival’s role as a creative hub for the county-wide celebration: Essex 2020: A Year of Science and Creativity Author of The Football Factory John King will pick up the theme of ‘Brave New Worlds’ in a discussion about the influence of classic dystopian books on his writing. Poet Sadie Davidson will host the – fun but competitive – ‘Be Brave Poetry Slam’ as a fundraiser for ‘The Write Track’ – a creative writing and mentoring programme for disadvantaged and at-risk teens.
If you have always wanted to try your hand at spoken word, ‘This Must Be the Place’, the team behind the former Sundown Arts, is hosting an open mic evening. The team welcome all, regardless of experience. They have also invited the group ‘True Stories Live’ to deliver a workshop where team of professionals will support you to tell true stories from your life and invite you to perform these tales later in the evening. However, if sharing your story isn’t for you, you can simply reserve your place to be a part of the supportive audience.

‘The Water Replies’ is an 8 month large scale participatory project, linked to Estuary 2020. This large-scale, word based project offers fully funded workshops exploring poetry, journaling and writing in order to create a collective response to what life is like alongside the Thames Estuary, celebrating the impact it has on our daily lives.
This project, led by published poets Selina Nwulu (London Poet Laureate, 2015) and Caroline Bird (London Olympics Official Poet, 2012), will form a visible part of the programme within Estuary 2020.
We are delighted to host the first public facing workshops of this project as part of Essex Writers House. You can book on to the first free journaling workshop, led by local artist Heidi Wigmore, where anyone living along the Thames Estuary coastline can attend and pick up a journal which can be filled with content inspired by life along the water. All journals will be exhibited in a month-long public exhibition, as part of the Estuary festival programme. A poetry workshop exclusively for teachers will be designed and led by internationally acclaimed poets Caroline Bird and Selina Nwulu.

If you love painting a scene then you will really enjoy author Lee Rourke’s situated practice one day course where you will discover how to create writing to evoke an unmistakable sense of place, paying attention to people, atmosphere, soundscape and landscape.

If you’d like the opportunity to network and hear snippets of original writing from local writers, come along to a special Writers House edition of Metal’s ‘Future Park’ creative networking and sharing evening. Hear from guest speaker, local writer and poet Sadie Davidson, and don’t miss the writers’ take-over of the popular ‘3 Minute Wonder’ section of the evening.

Metal invites you to explore another ‘Brave New World’ within its ground-breaking ‘NetPark’, the first digital art park in the world. Family-friendly tours are available every Saturday at 12pm. As you are guided around the park using Metal’s i-pads, you will experience the beautiful surroundings of Chalkwell Park in a whole new way!

Not forgetting ‘Little Busy Book Club’ afternoon for young bookworms run by local Jacqson Diego Story Emporium, the month of March in Chalkwell Hall is set to come alive with the buzz of ideas, imagination and inspiration for all!

“There is a rich heritage of writing in Essex and a flourishing literary scene. Essex Writers’ House is an opportunity for anyone interested in writing to nourish their curiosity in books, hone their writing skills and have the confidence to share ideas” Andrea Cunningham Assistant Regional Director at Metal Southend

To find out more and book places to ensure attendance at these great events, visit the Essex House Writers House 2020 page on Metal’s website –


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