Plymouth / Brest Writers’ Exchange 2016


Spearheaded by a variety of people involved with Plymouth CAN  – the Plymouth / Brest Writers’ Exchange events take place over the weekend of 28th, 29th and 30th of October as part of PlymLit16.

Within CAN, we are proud that in recent months we have been promoting and championing grassroots events that sit alongside and within the main event. The most recent example was the highly succcessful exercise in arranging for Year 9 Students at the Plymouth School of Creative Arts to interview artists taking part in the Plymouth Art Weekender. To hear the Red House Radio interviews – click on this link.

Enough of that however –  Wonderzoo member and CAN activist extraordinaire Pete Davey, sets out just what we can expect to experience during the weekend.

Pete Davey with turban and G’n’R  T-shirt :  of course.

” We are part of Plym Lit 216 Festival that is happening all over the city for over a week. But we’re hosting a weekend of poetry, prose and music from the best of Plymouth and Brest France to celebrate cultural shared values from both sides of the channel and to keep our links open to the EU when it comes to art and culture.

We have events with Waterstones on the Friday evening.

On the Saturday night (see below) we have our big event at The Jill Craigie Cinema, (Plymouth University : Peninsula Arts).That sits alongside a play called Merc’h An Eog  performed by Teatr Piba which is  happening at “The House” at the University.

Then on Sunday we have a writers workshop working Plymouth Timebank at Union Corner, Union Street with a free Buffet, which we will explore some of the weirder aspects of writing and poetry in a collective manner for the first edition of a journal which will celebrate the Exchange of ideas between Plymouth and Brest.

It will be carried on after the workshop online;  then finished next year in Brest and then realised in book format online and in print.

There are a host of people taking part over the weekend.

Capri Batterie

CAPRI-BATTERIE:  Art in a constant state of transformation with an unrestricted approach to improvisation that embraces the philosophy of ‘freedom’, as an affront to oppression in all its modern day manifestations. This is music-making unafraid of ideology and charged with abstraction in which they coalesce the aesthetics of industrial rock, free jazz and noise.

The reason I booked them was for a few reasons. Firstly, Tim Sayer taught me about music and sound and sonic arts and film when I was doing my degree, and showed me how to mix up things and not be A to Z but be weirder and weirder like Alice in Wonderland. Another great musician and writer is Sam Richards (not on this bill) but he, Tim and I once did a one-off show using my voice and these folks taught me one thing above everything – and that is if you have an idea and others say it won’t work then do it.

nick ingram
Nick Ingram

NICK INGRAM: A published and independent writer living in Plymouth. Nick has been a regular columnist, blogger, and film writer for varied local outlets. He has also published two books: Dionysius Williams & Other Southwest Observations, and the more recent Some Notes From A Small Dent Of An English City.

Nick is a great writer and another member of the WonderZoo crew and is more Punk than most Punks but he would never believe that. Nick does all our events as our MC and is outspoken and loud and fun and gets the audience going with unrestrained behaviour at times.  A true living surrealist with a big heart and love for the written word and a highly political person that is ready to rub folks up the wrong way but a writer with a true independent mind and there are not many like him today; a free thinker who is not scared to say what he thinks and that’s what makes him a good writer.

Chris Parsons

CHRIS PARSONS: Plymouth’s own American poet and author of A Short Step Journey. Shortlisted for this year’s Golden Crown Literary Society Awards, and has just been made Poet in Residence for Go Palace Plymouth – the group who are trying to restore the Palace Theatre on Union Street to its former glory.

Chris is much like Nick Ingram : a free thinker and the same with the written word. I first meet Chris a few years ago through our love of photography and I got to see her write her first short poems and kept onto her to write more and what a book A Short Step Journey is and it’s been a real pleasure to see her grow into a really truly good writer and one of the best to come out of the South West.

Laura Quigley

LAURA QUIGLEY: Laura is an award-winning Plymouth writer who writes across mediums and genre: fiction, non-fiction, audio-plays, theatre and articles. Her literary non-fiction including: Bloody British History Plymouth, and South West Agents, are best sellers. Also Laura regular gives presentations to history and writing groups, and has made appearances at festivals. She has recently been awarded a Arts Council Grant to complete her latest book, A Song For The Burning, which will be released later on in the year.

Laura was one of the first people to believe in me and support BlackBooks-Word events and has backed this project whole heartily and given me support when needed. I cant thank her enough and her dark stories in her books are much inspired by real events based in historic themes and heritage and hidden stories that are just thrilling. Laura’s latest book, South West Secret Agents – True Stories of The West Country at War is her best book so far and happy to say I have a signed copy myself.

miss von trapp
Miss Von Trapp

MISS Von TRAPP: This murderously, witty and quirky, dark cello cabaret and Steam Punk Artist, is well known for scything her way through the Plymouth and Southwest festival and writing scene: with songs of menace and deadly deeds. She released her first album online last year: Songs To Die For. And most likely you will – with laughter.

Shes Fun and dark and surreal and make you laugh so much and the best Steam Punk Artist in the South West. I wanted Miss Von Trapp has I love her dark humour and she gets the crowd going and signing and laughing till death do them part.

Tom Vowler

TOM VOWLER: Tom is an award winning novelist and short story writer. His debut collection, The Method, won the Scott Prize 2010, and the Edge Hill Readers’ Prize 2011. He is co-editor of the journal Short Fiction, and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Plymouth University, while completing his PhD. His second novel, That Dark Remembered Day, was published in 2014.

Tom will only be on our Waterstones gig and Toms lyrical descriptions and appreciation of words always create unease with good plots and the use of language just ripples throughout Toms works. I think he’s one of Plymouths best writers up there with the likes of poet Kenny Knight they are truly amazing writers who know how to use words to get the best out of the reader.

So the main events are as follow :

FRIDAY 28TH OCTOBER: A Book Signing With Readings And Talk. 5.00-7.00PM. Waterstones Bookshop, New George Street, Plymouth. 

SATURDAY 29TH OCTOBER: An Evening Of Poetry & Music. 7.30-11.30PM. The Jill Craigie Cinema, Plymouth University. The centre piece event of the weekend. Both Plymouth and Brest Writers will be performing their work, along with music from Brest folk group BepSort and Plymouth’s own Capri-Batterie, along with the fantastic murderously quirky cabaret artist Miss von Trapp.

SUNDAY 30TH OCTOBER: A Writers Workshop. 11.00AM-2.00PM. 96 Union Corner, Union Street. With Buffet. A workshop in which we will explore some of the weirder aspects of writing and poetry in a collective manner for the first edition of a journal which will celebrate the Exchange of ideas between Plymouth and Brest and develop into a live blog

In terms of the chosen venues – I wanted a book shop (Waterstones – New George Street)  a major main venue (Pen Arts ) and then a workshop that helps and supports its local community and gets them involved; and 96 Union Corner in Union Street is just that.

And I have been asked – “why is this all happening this year?”

And my response to that is that Plymouth is on the up with creativity at the heart of the city with events like Union Street Party and Plymouth Art Weekender and new places like Ocean Studios opening up in William Yard.

I was asked by Plymouth Twining could I do something to give it a face lift and get younger people involved and this got me thinking with everything else going on this was the right time to do something and yes we did it in ten weeks – put the events together, found the artists and venues and accommodation and got all the different groups to support us CAN, Plymouth Artists Network , Flameworks, The Brest –Plymouth Twinning Groups, Peninsula Arts, Waterstones, Stonehouse Timebank, Plymouth Culture, Airey and Coles and the Romanian Society of the South West. We were also asked to be part of PlymLit16 Festival. Everything has just come together and it’s truly amazing that everybody has done their part to make this all happen.

At the end of it all – the overall aims of this Project are to promote the work of writers and performers based in Plymouth and the South West and, further,to establish cultural links with Brest in France, thereby benefiting both the local community in Plymouth and our partners in Brest France. These events will involve the first WonderZoo cultural exchange with our Brest partners.

It is envisaged that this event will be the pilot for an expanded multi-city event comprising arts, literature, music, film and food. There will be further opportunities for other groups, students and artists to become part of a wider exchange programme, working together for the benefit of cultural and social cohesion in Plymouth and Brest and keeping our links open to the EU in these uncertain times. We can also say that  Plymouth Culture are supporting us to make the next festival get the funding it really needs to make it bigger and better than this year – which is going to be truly amazing.

So get along! ”

[ As a note to those who use social media – we are using #PlymBrest as the twinning weekend hashtag – alongside the official #PlymLit16 ]



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