This exciting and practical writing workshop explores ways of engaging with the city through writing. Whether it’s for you or your characters, we’ll walk, write, and eat in central London, and use the city landscape – from Zoo to Art – as a rich resource for personal and fictional stories. The workshop will teach you how to map a character’s journey through the city; look closely at how the environment impacts on their psychology; and explore the symbolic resonances of the urban landscape, from bridges to biodiversity. London will be our laboratory, so whether you’re writing fiction, science-fiction or memoir the exercises are devised to suit all genres and cities!
All participants will be included in a final anthology of work, and be invited to contribute to the project’s blog.
We’ll create stories at the zoo; write while taking a boat ride on the Thames; take tea and notes at Fortnum & Mason; and visit the Picasso exhibition at Tate Britain. We’ll also explore the works of other writers – and meet a couple – who’ve used the city as the setting and inspiration for their fiction. From Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, to Monica Ali’s Brick Lane, from Alaa Al Aswany’s The Yacoubian Building to Defoe’s Journal of a Plague Year, and from Balzac’s A Street of Paris to Jane DeLynn’s Don Juan in the Village… we’ll examine extracts from these works and others, and be inspired by psychogeography to roam the city in the name of writing.
There’ll be writing suggestions and exercises between each session. All participants will be included in Writers in the Crowd, an anthology of writing in the city. A dedicated and password-protected blog will be set up for the workshop and all participants will be invited to share their work.
limited to 8 participants
The workshop will be led by Shaun Levin
Special guests: Olumide Popoola and Jonathan Kemp
Day 1: London Zoo
Day 2: Thames Walk and Boat Ride
Day 3: Tea Tales at Fortnum’s
Day 4: Picasso at Tate Britain
Day 5: The City in Fiction
Day 6: London Writers
Shaun Levin is the author of Seven Sweet Things, A Year of Two Summers, and Snapshots of the Boy. His most recent work is a fictional biography of the London-born painter, Mark Gertler. He has taught writing for twenty years, and run workshops in cafes, art galleries, bookshops, parks, a cemetery, and a zoo. Shaun is passionate about exploring the landscape, the sea, the urban environment, as well as other art forms to enrich our stories and take writing to new and unexpected places. He has lived in London for the past fifteen years and has made the city an integral and important part of his work.
Olumide Popoola is the author of this is not about sadness which traces the threads that bind a few women in a North London neighbourhood. A Nigerian German author, poet, and performer, her work is concerned with a critical investigation into the “in-between” of culture, language and public space. She is currently working on a cross-genre novel, exploring vernacular and hybrid literary forms. Her work has been published in anthologies since 1988 in Germany, Slovenia, South Africa, the USA, Sri Lanka, the UK and Nigeria. In 2004 she was awarded the May Ayim Award (Poetry), the first Black International Literature Award in Germany.
Jonathan Kemp was born in Manchester in 1967 but has lived in London since 1989. His first novel, London Triptych, weaves together three narratives set in London in three different times: 1895, 1953 and 1998. It won the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award. His work consistently engages with the city and he teaches courses on London at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is particularly interested in sexual subcultures and how the city gets written, how histories of the city construct archeologies which provide rich seams for a writer to mine.
Dates: Saturdays (fortnightly, except last two weeks)
(26 May, 9 June, 23 June, 7 July, 21 July, 28 July)
Fee: £250 (£210 early-bird booking before 5 May)
price includes entrance fees, tea and cake at Fortnum’s, and boat ride
The workshop is now full. Please contact me if you’d like to go onto the waiting list: shaun [at] shaunlevin.com There are still a few places on the online course