Literary Highlights of 2018

exhibition - made in roathLooking back over the last year makes me realise just how priviliged I am to live in a country where so many literary events and opportunities exist, and I’m especially grateful for the small community of writers in Cardiff who continue to run free, or low-cost workshops and open-mic nights on a regular basis. I’ve continued to enjoy running my own ekphrastic writing workshop, and have begun the second year of my part-time MA in Creative Writing. There have been plenty of literary highlights over the past few months, including the thrills of the Hay Festival, but here are my top four…  

Crossing Points: Photographs and Poems Combined

I have an ongoing fascination with the interplay of visual artwork and the written word, so this year I was delighted to be given an opportunity by the madeinroath arts festival to create my own artwork. There’s something thrilling about being given a commission and a deadline, setting off to take photographs on the streets of Cardiff, then using those same photographs as inspiration for new poems, not knowing what will emerge from such a process.Crossing Points - Rachel Carney poems and photosI focused on the ‘crossing points’ of urban life – doors and windows – the points where we cross-over from public to private, exploring ideas of belonging, connection and dislocation. It was a challenge to consider how such a work should be displayed, but I was pleased with the result.

A Book about Book Blogging

How to Start a Book BlogAfter a lot of hard work editing and proof-reading, I eventually self-published my book – How to Start a Book Blog: A Step by Step Guide in March, and I’ve also enjoyed delivering workshops on the art of blogging, including one as part of Cardiff Book Festival 2018, where I was able to attend a number of other really interesting events. Apart from the thrill of running my own event, the highlight of the festival for me was the Poetry Showcase on the Friday evening.

Crime and Coffee

Cardiff’s library service has suffered much over the past year, with severe funding cuts and staff cuts, but the library staff have kept going with grim determination, running even more exciting, inspirational literary events than ever before. The first ever Cardiff crime fiction festival was buzzing with energy and extremely well-organised. I attended some fascinating discussions on editing, conducting research and the portrayal of mental health in crime fiction.

Crime writers Rosie Claverton and Matt Johnson discussing mental health

Crime writers Rosie Claverton and Matt Johnson discussing mental health

Creative Writing at Manchester Writing School

I began my MA in Creative Writing just over a year ago, and the highlight so far has definitely been my two trips to Manchester – first for a three-day residential course, learning how to teach creative writing, and then for the annual writing summer school, a two-day extravaganza of workshops and inspiration. I’m currently immersed in contemporary poetry collections, enjoying the slightly surreal online seminar discussions and the unpredictable reactions of my fellow students to some diverse poetic styles.

suspense writing workshop at Chetham's Library

The ‘suspense writing workshop’ at Chetham’s Library

So there you have it – another year full of literary highlights in all shapes and sizes… Please do share your own literary highlights using the comments below.

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