By Jacqueline Grima
This weekend, staff and students from The Manchester Writing School at MMU gathered at the city’s Font bar to celebrate the launch of Avis Magazine. Avis, co-edited by Manchester Metropolitan University MA Creative Writing students Mark Pajak and Letitia Lees, is a new literary magazine which publishes prose and poetry by emerging writers from all over the UK.
The evening began with some musical entertainment before a welcome speech from Mark, who encouraged guests to pick up a copy of the free magazine, successfully funded by Kickstarter pledges and donations made at fundraising events. Asked by Humanity Hallows what inspired him to create the magazine, Mark said,
“Letitia and I decided to create a literary magazine for MMU. We put on open-mic nights to raise funds as well as offering creative writing short courses as an incentive on Kickstarter. We hope that the magazine will come out at least once a year, with a new editing team taking over each year in order to keep it fresh.”
The first edition of the magazine, entitled ‘Nested’, features a wide array of poetry and prose alongside an interview with renowned Sheffield poet, Helen Mort. Illustrations were contributed by Anna Appleby and Kathryn Owens.
After Mark’s speech, some of the magazine’s contributing writers took to the stage. First, University of Manchester student, Alice Baynton, read from her story, ‘Nesting Pair’, followed by MMU Creative Writing student, Natalie Burdett, who read from two of her poems. These were followed by readings from prose writer and Northampton University student, Miguel Pasqual and MMU student and poet, Ian Humphreys who read from his poem, ‘Into the Frying Pan’.
The evening came to an end with an impressive performance from poet Jess Green, whose poem ‘Dear Mr Gove’ has attracted more than 300,000 hits on YouTube, and who has performed her poetry at Glastonbury Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe. MMU student and poet Claire Larvin, who also read at the event, told Humanity Hallows how impressed she was with the finished magazine,
“This is the first time we’ve all seen it and I think it’s beautiful. The poetry and prose pieces are all lovely and the finish of the magazine is really professional. I’m thrilled to have been involved.”
Manager of the Manchester Writing School James Draper, who mentored the project, said,
“Projects like this, which are devised and run by students, are great because the benefits to the students are huge. They gain skills in behind-the-scenes project management which makes them appealing to employers and also to publishers. It also helps to get other students involved.”
Senior Lecturer at MMU and poet Adam O’Riordan added, “The energy and vitality of projects like this is fantastic.”
To find out more about Avis Magazine, visit the team’s Facebook Page or, for more information regarding submission, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jacqueline Grima is studying for an MA in Creative Writing. Her unpublished novel Coming Second was shortlisted for last year’s Luke Bitmead Bursary. When not writing, she loves listening to music, especially Green Day, Foo Fighters and Gary Numan.