By Jacqueline Grima
Staff and postgraduate students from Manchester Metropolitan University’s Humanities, Languages and Social Science (HLSS) Graduate School recently gathered to celebrate the end of their first year at No 70 Oxford Street, now one of the most exciting and vibrant university hubs in the North West.
The event also celebrated the culmination of this year’s Humanities in Public festival as well as the upcoming plans to merge the HLSS faculty with the Manchester School of Art. The new faculty will be called the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.
Guests were welcomed by HLSS Professor of Information Communications Jenny Rowley. Jenny said, “We put on this event to provide opportunities for students to meet up with old friends as well as to make new friends.”
Next, Manager of the Manchester Writing School James Draper talked about how the school’s students have thrived during their first year at No 70. James said, “There really is a sense of home and a sense of family at No 70 Oxford Street.”
Guests were then treated to some very special entertainment as students from the Manchester Writing School and the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) took to the stage to perform the pieces that were shortlisted for this year’s Rosamund Prize, an annual collaboration that pairs poetry with music.
First, musician Olivia Cheung and soprano Eleanore Cockerham performed Elizabeth Sennit-Clough’s first-prize-winning poem ‘Sampson’ with music composed by Grace Mason. Then, poet Keith Hutson performed his four highly-recommended sonnets written to celebrate the lives of performers such as Joan Rhodes and Billy Bennett. Following Keith’s reading of his work, the audience listened to the sonnets set to music composed by RNCM student Alex Symcox.
The final performance was by Manchester Writing School poet Emma McGordan who performed her highly-recommended poem ‘Reprinting New York’. Emma was accompanied by RNCM composer and musician Deane Smith.
Guests at the event were also invited to play a game of Where Are They Now? in which they were asked to guess which baby pictures matched which adult member of staff. Winner of the game was Marianne Talbot. Musicians Kevin Morel and Robert John from One Education provided musical entertainment throughout the evening whilst attendees enjoyed a buffet, cake and drinks.
The event coincided with the annual Manchester Writing School Creative Writing Summer School which saw online and campus MA students come together for a series of workshops and guest speaker events. Guest speakers included successful screen and radio writer Anjum Malik and literary agent Euan Thorneycroft.
Online student Lucie McKnight-Hardy said, “The summer school is a great chance to meet up with fellow students and also the tutors and lecturers. It’s particularly valuable to online students like me, who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to put a face to a name or a voice to an email address.”
Campus student Sara Cox added, “It was great to meet everyone at Summer School and it provided a good forum for some interesting discussion. Dr Livi Michael’s session was particularly valuable for me and I have definitely come away from her workshop with the beginnings of short story and perhaps a novel. The evening event at No 70 had a party atmosphere and it’s hard to believe that it’s a year since we took up residence there. I look forward to next year.”
For more information about the Manchester Writing School MA and MFA in Creative Writing, visit the Manchester Writing School website.