Apply for Experimental! An Online Writers’ Retreat for D/deaf and disabled writers


Experimental! is a completely free, online writers’ retreat, running from Monday 31 August to Sunday 6 September 2020. Expect a residential retreat – but from your own home.

Convened by Spread the Word and curated by poet and essayist Jamie Hale, the retreat is for 12 UK based D/deaf and/or disabled writers who write poetry, fiction and/ or creative non-fiction.

Experimental! aims to encourage people to experiment and broaden their writing practice, get insight into the industry and become part of a writing community.

There will be two days focusing each on poetry, fiction, and the personal essay. There will be workshops, masterclasses, guest readings, industry talks, 1-2-1s and a sharing event.

Guest writers and speakers include: Raymond Antrobus, Elsa Sjunneson, Anne Finger, Sara Nović, Kayla Whaley and Khairani Barokka.

Industry talks will be given by:  Jemilea Wisdom-Baako (Writerz & Scribez), Stuart Bartholomew (Verve Poetry Festival and Poetry Press) Owen Craven-Griffiths (Apples and Snakes), Ella Kahn (DKW Literary Agency), Ludo Cinelli (Eve White Literary Agency), Davinia Andrew-Lynch (Andlyn), Aimée Felone (Knights of), Valerie Brandes (Jacaranda Books) and Leodora Darlington (Bookouture).

The retreat will be BSL interpreted by Lynne Bateman, Michelle Wood and Robert Adam.

You can find more information about the retreat and accessibility below.


  • You identify as D/deaf and/ or disabled (including: neurodivergence, chronic and long-term health conditions and mental health conditions);

  • You must be based in the UK and over 18 years of age;

  • You are committed to taking your writing forward and are writing regularly in at least one of these genres: fiction, essay, or poetry;

  • You are interested in joining a community of writers, sharing your work and working across different genres.

Please note that six places on the programme are reserved for London-based writers.

Apply to be part of Experimental!

Places on Experimental! are by application only.

Alongside completing the online application form, you will be asked to provide two samples of your work either in word/ pdf/ audio or video format. You can supply both samples in one style, or two different styles. If poetry, 2 poems maximum of 30 lines each. If fiction or creative non-fiction: maximum 500 words each.

You can view the application form questions by downloading it in PDF format here.
Experimental! application form

The deadline for applications is 5pm, Wednesday 12 August 2020.

APPLY by completing this online google form and uploading two samples of your work:

Applications will be assessed by the Spread the Word team and Jamie Hale. We will let people know the outcome of their application w/c 17 August.

The decisions made will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.

If you have any questions about Experimental!, please get in touch: [email protected]


The retreat

The retreat will take place on Zoom.

From Monday 31 August to Saturday 6 September there will be two sessions each day between 13:00-17:00 – a workshop or masterclass, and a guest reading and/or insight session. Masterclasses and workshops will last 2 and half hours each (including a half-hour break) and industry talks and readings one hour each.

1-2-1s will take place between Monday and Sunday and will be scheduled during the week based on availability. Each 1-2-1 will last 25 minutes.

The sharing event will take place on Sunday 6 September between 16:00-17:00.

The retreat schedule will be sent to successful applicants as part of a welcome pack a week before the retreat starts.


All retreat sessions will be BSL Interpreted by Lynne Bateman, Michelle Wood and Robert Adam. They will also be auto-captioned.

The retreat is a relaxed space. People will be given regular breaks and are able to take additional breaks as needed.

Any images used in the sessions will be described, and participants will be asked to describe any slides or images used in their own work.

We cannot guarantee a trigger-free space, and while we will request that people put content notes on anything likely to trigger, we will not know in advance what people will be bringing to the space.

Writers applying for Experimental! should be intending to attend everything, although we know that unexpected circumstances may arise and will be flexible. We know that this structure may not be accessible to everyone, but we have picked one that, after consultation with writers and guest speakers, seemed suitable for as many people as possible.

Please do email us about any other access needs: [email protected]

Published 23 July 2020