Today is my last day of working at National Centre for Writing. It’s been ten years since I first interned there, six years since I joined the core team, and two since I took on the role of Programme Manager.
During my time at NCW I’ve run festivals, international symposia, and literally hundreds of events. I’ve met the most amazing people, from talented early career writers to superstars like Margaret Atwood, and fellow literature professionals from all over the world.
It’s been a blast and I’m sad to be leaving, though I’m excited for my new chapter. I’ll still be working in the arts and culture sector, including growing my freelance writing-facilitating-producing practice.
This post is a look back at just some of my innumerable personal highlights from the last six years. Thanks to all the writers, readers and colleagues who have made these experiences so special and memorable, and here’s to an exciting future of collaborations and creativity to come.
The Quiet, 2017
On a train back from the Escalator Showcase 2017, I spitballed the idea that we could produce Carys Davies’ short story “The Quiet” as a dance piece. This would be for Story Machine‘s interactive literature extravaganza during NCW and Norfolk & Norwich Festival‘s joint City of Literature programme. To my surprise Sam Ruddock, director of Story Machines, accepted this idea and ran with it, turning it into beautiful reality with the help of Glasshouse Dance.
It was a pleasure to assist on this piece, a crash course in producing outdoor events, and a valuable lesson in not being afraid to share my ideas no matter how off-the-wall they may seem. As a curator/programmer, creative brainstorming is an essential skill, and one I really enjoy doing.
Writing Places, 2017-18
Another project on which I really cut my teeth, Writing Places was a project of creative exchange between writers, translators and photographers in the Norwich, UK and Kolkata, India.
I supported Kate Griffin, NCW’s Associate Programme Director, in producing and hosting two exchange visits as part of the programme. The first, in Norwich, took place in May 2017 and included a symposium and public events. The second, in Kolkata, was run in partnership with Kolkata Literary Meet and was my first taste in working internationally. You can read my blog about the Kolkata exchange here.
My work on Writing Places taught me the value of durational engagement, interdisciplinary approaches and intercultural communication, and I can’t thank Kate and the Writing Places participants and partners enough for this formative experience.
Escalator Showcase, 2022
Escalator is NCW’s flagship talent development programme that has supported over 150 writers at the start of their careers. Having supported the programme in the past, it was a privilege to take on its curation and management in 2021 and to put supporting under-represented writers at the heart of it.
I was lucky to share the experience with the most recent cohort, ten truly talented writers whom I know will go far. The video below shows their final showcase to agents, publishers and the wider writing community, hosted by yours truly.
Escalator 2022-23 is still open for entries until Monday 19th September. Escalator is open to under-represented fiction writers from the East of England region, and this year writers from global majority backgrounds and the LGBTQ+ community are especially encouraged to apply. Find out more and submit your application here.
You can support the Escalator programme and under-represented writers as part of NCW’s Escalator Needs Your Help campaign.
Wandering Words, 2022
In late 2021 I had another of my unlikely ideas: what if we celebrated Norwich’s ten years as a UNESCO City of Literature through a combination of words, sound, and place? Several months later Wandering Words was born.
The project features newly commissioned poems by Victoria Adukwei Bulley, Andy Bennett, Piers Harrison-Reid, Hannah Levene and Jessica Streeting, all of whom have a connection to the fine city. A team of students from Access Creative College composed original, professional-standard sound pieces responding to the poems. Commissioned by Norfolk & Norwich Festival and National Centre for Writing, and curated and produced by me, Wandering Words launched online, in print and via in-person walking tours during the City of Literature festival 2022.
You can still enjoy and experience Wandering Words, both online and by picking up a map around the city. Whether you’re visiting Norwich for the day, or are looking for a new perspective on your local haunts, I wish you happy wandering.
International Literature Showcase, 2021
2021 saw me take on one of my biggest challenges to date: curating and producing the International Literature Showcase programme, alongside colleagues at British Council. Bringing together literature professionals from across the world with UK writers, the ILS facilitates new writing, best practice and international exchange in literature.
This was the first symposium I had run online and it presented a series of new logistical challenges. Luckily the brilliant company and creativity of our writers and delegates more than made up for the fact that we couldn’t all be in the same room together.
The commissioned articles, discussions, events and a keynote speech by the one and only Joy Francis offer incisive perspectives on where literature is now and where we might be headed. In particular I highly recommend this international look at innovation and enterprise in the sector with Molly Flatt, Goretti Kyomuhendo and Claire Mabey.
The ILS continues through a series of seed-funded projects pairing UK and overseas partners, and a forthcoming higher education resource pack. Find out more and access the ILS resources here.
The Writing Life podcast interviews
Last but not least, I’ve been lucky enough to interview many writers for NCW’s The Writing Life podcast. It’s impossible to choose a single favourite author or interview, but I’m especially proud of my interviews with Jenn Ashworth, Lynn Buckle and Kendel Hippolyte.
I’ve also been interviewed myself on the podcast about the NCW Book Club, which I started in 2020, and for my guide to getting your poetry published. Find out more and listen to the latest episodes of The Writing Life here.
It’s the end of an era for my time at National Centre for Writing, but a new chapter is just beginning. I will continue to innovate in literature and writer development as I build my freelance practice.
To book me for freelance work, commissions and events, please contact me on hello [at] floreynolds [dot] com or via the contact page.
To find out more about my work as a writer, facilitator and producer going forward, why not connect with me on Twitter or sign up for email updates: