Our Words 2007
Our Words 2007 was programmed by Miriam Nash, a Goldsmith's student who interned with Spread the Word for five months. Here she writes about her experiences and the final day.
Our Words by Miriam Nash
Programming Our Words
Standing in a room full of writers of around my age, all chatting and laughing with one another, I felt a sudden rush of excitement at having brought all these people together for a day devoted to writing and performance. What had started as ideas in my head and spider diagrams scribbled on bits of paper was actually happening around me.
Months before, when I started my internship at Spread the Word, I was desperate to gain a clearer idea of what I might like to do after finishing university. I had been co-running the Creative Writing Society at Goldsmiths for over a year, but the internship felt like a way to really experience what it might be like working in an arts organisation. This was the first time I had ever been given a budget to plan and organise an event from start to finish and I wanted to trust my ideas and go for it.
In the beginning it was challenging being given so much freedom to plan whatever I wanted. Every week I could feel myself gaining confidence and speaking with greater clarity about my ideas for the event. Abi and Jenneba supported me in this, sharing their own ideas and experience. I always came away from our meetings feeling inspired and on track.
When I was looking for a venue, I had to trust my judgement as I would be the only person to visit the venue before the final event. It was tough finding somewhere with the right rooms that fitted our budget. As well as searching online and in Spread the Word’s database, I emailed everyone I knew who might know about venues. A friend of a friend emailed back with a list. When I found Toynbee Studios I felt a great sense of achievement. It fitted the budget exactly and had three rooms on the same floor, including one for performance. The only snag was that they didn’t provide sound and lighting. I did some research into hire companies and found a good deal. I also found a friend to be technical manager on the day. One of the things I learnt through this was to use all the resources I had when faced with a challenge. The venue, lighting and sound all turned out to be a success.
It took a lot of phone calls and internet searches to find the right tutors for the workshops and talk. I enjoyed this part as it involved thinking carefully about what different writers would bring to the day. In the end I settled on Robert Collins and Francesca Beard. Working with them in the planning stages and on the day was a great experience. In the beginning I sometimes found it difficult to know how much to specify what I wanted, and how much to leave it up to their ideas. This helped me learn to communicate more clearly and convincingly, to come to a balance between my ideas and theirs.
My favourite bits
I loved organising the evening platform. I got to look at the work of young poets, fiction writers, musicians and storytellers and see who I liked. Abi, Jenneba and I worked closely as a team on this part which I think made for a great performance as we could share our tastes and make sure there was something for everyone. The final show was dynamic and varied – so our positive planning paid off.
Another thing I enjoyed was writing the copy for the event and seeing it in print in the Spread the Word brochure. I also helped word the publicity flyer and wrote a press release for various websites. I made a Facebook event and invited everyone I knew. It felt great to be able to invite people to something I had planned, and let them read about it in print!
The final event
Like I said it was amazing to see it all happening. As well as being an organiser I got to take part in the poetry workshop, and see the day from another angle as a participant. In the open mic part of the performance, a girl who had never performed before stood up and read two poems after being inspired to do so in Francesca’s workshop. This made me feel very happy, as I felt the day had provided an opportunity for her to develop confidence in herself and her work.
Working at Spread the Word did give me what I was looking for – a real sense of what I want to do in the future. I found that I want to continue programming events, and hopefully work in an arts organisation, particularly on projects for young adults or children. I am already doing another internship, working on an Arts Council funded project that brings international poets into schools. More than this I have developed much greater confidence in myself, my ideas and my ability to successfully plan an event all the way through. I can’t list all the things this experience brought me as they are so many.
Thank you to everyone at Spread the Word and especially to Abi and Jenneba for giving me this opportunity and making it such a valuable, fun and inspiring experience.
Writing Friction with Robert Collins
Ways In - talk with Francesca and Robert hosted by Abi (Spread the Word)
The Evening Showcase
MC Inua Ellams Warming up the audience
Performers Annette (poet) and Irenson (novelist)
What you said about it
"Love the show, great hosting and a good range of performers. More please." (Audience member)
"Brilliant - poetry for the soul. Keem ‘em coming." (Open mic participant)
"I want to recommend it to lots more people! Excellent, inspiring and full of heart." (Workshop participant)