Sunday, 15 October 2017

Winning last year's Words And Women’s prose competition

Our annual prose competition is open for entries until the 15th November. Click here for submission details.

There are two major prizes on offer: the East of England Prize and our National Prize for Women Writers over the age of 40.
  
The national award, generously sponsored by Hosking Houses Trust, offers women over the age of 40 the opportunity to win £1,000 and up to a month-long writing retreat at Church Cottage near Stratford-upon-Avon. The East of England prize offers the winner £600 and a mentoring session with Jill Dawson of Gold Dust. 

Below is a post from Deborah Arnander, the national winner of last year’s competition with her short story The Wife, which opens a window on her time in Church Cottage. If you’d like to read up on what it means to win the regional prize then click on April in our blog archive and winner Melissa Fu will give you the low-down.

A House of One’s Own,Deborah Arnander

(C) Deborah Arnander
 In Church Cottage, the Hosking Houses Trust provides the lucky resident with more than a room: with, in fact, a House of One’s Own, to quote the title of Janet Malcolm’s wonderful essay on Bloomsbury and the ‘spirit of industry’ that still resides in houses like Charleston.  These places speak, Malcolm says, ‘of the values by which Chekov’s good characters are ruled: patient, habitual work and sensible, calm behavior.’  That spirit rules in this place too.  You cannot fail to feel its benevolent influence. 
            The cottage has been appointed with great thoughtfulness.  There is a huge enamel bath, a comfy bed, a proper writing chair.  A well-stocked bookcase includes works by many of the impressive women who have been here before.  The River Stour is at the bottom of the lane, and the resident has use of a reputedly unsinkable white boat.  Clifford Chambers is a pretty village built around a cul-de-sac, with an interesting church, some beautiful old houses, and a Manor that reminded me of Tintin’s Marlinspike Hall.  It is a walkable two miles from Stratford-upon-Avon.  At night, there is total silence.  The church bells ring the hour.
I worried before I came that I might balk at the change to my routines, that I might even miss the perverse satisfaction of stealing time out of the day.  But the cottage works its magic, and in the time I’ve been here, I’ve found myself unwilling even to turn on the radio. I knew it would be an age before I got another chance to be so single-minded about my work.  I let the outside world recede.  I had the whole day to dive down.
(C) Deborah Arnander
            I brought my most recent notebooks with me, and some print-outs of my semi-abandoned novel.  I decided to work on the novel first.  In the absence of other distractions, I managed to rewrite the first four chapters in a way that gives me hope: it’s much closer to the point-of-view character now.  I’ve always known that there are major problems with the plot; I’ve had some ideas about what I need to do to fix that. 
I’ve also been thinking for some time about a book of interconnected short stories.  At the Cottage I started to wonder what that might look like: there would need to be enough variation, for example, in the ages or life stages of the protagonists.  I sketched out half a dozen potential stories centred on a particular theme, and started composing one of them.  I have always found it difficult to see my work as a whole, rather than the few sentences or pages I’m working on.  But now I realize that a less fragmented day, with no other responsibilities, makes that wider view possible. 
There are several books at the cottage by one of the Trust’s patrons, Tracey Emin.  Speaking of the inspiration for her ‘Lonely Chair’ drawings, she told an interviewer: ‘When I’m in my house in France, I’m really, really happy.  I feel at one with something and at peace with something.  I spend a lot of time on my own there and I spend a lot of time sitting in a chair thinking.’  Those words have been echoing inside me all the time that I’ve been here.  Encouraging surroundings, time for uninterrupted thought, and perhaps especially, solitude: these things are essential for a writer.  I am so grateful to the Hosking Houses Trust, and to Words and Women, for running the competition.    

Deborah was born in Northumberland but spent her childhood in Thailand.  She has a PhD in French literature, and works as a translator.  She won an Escalator award in 2010, when she began her first, soon to be completed novel, The Cinderella Watch, which was shortlisted in 2014’s TLC/PEN Factor competition. She has published stories in Unthology One and Words and Women One, Three and Four, all with Unthank Books, and poetry in the webzine Ink, Sweat and Tears.  She is married with two children. 




Monday, 4 September 2017

Our prose competition launches!

Our annual prose competition launches today with two major prizes: the East of England Prize and our National Prize for Women Writers over the age of 40.

Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney
(c) Rosalind Hobley
This is the fifth year our competition’s been running and this year we’re proud to announce that we don’t have one guest judge but two! Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney are the authors of A Secret Sisterhood: The hidden friendships of Austen, Brontë, Eliot and Woolf. They also co-run SomethingRhymed.com, a website that celebrates female literary friendship. They’ve written for the likes of the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday and The Times. Emily is a winner of the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, Emma is author of the award-winning novel Owl Song at Dawn, and they both teach at New York University, London. 

Emily and Emma will be looking for compelling voices from the entries, ‘voices that combine a sensitivity to the musicality of language with a story that holds the reader's attention from beginning to end. Narratives that are nuanced, complex and unusual will make us sit up and take note.’ 
  
The national award, generously sponsored by Hosking Houses Trust, offers women over the age of 40 the opportunity to win £1,000 and up to a month-long writing retreat at Church Cottage near Stratford-upon-Avon. 

The East of England prize offers the winner £600 and a mentoring session with Jill Dawson of Gold Dust. 

Both national and regional winners will be published in The Words And Women Compendium which will be launched on International Women’s Day, 8th March, 2018.
They will also have the opportunity to read at this event too.

All competition entrants will be offered a special discount for Gold Dust, the high calibre mentoring scheme for writers.

For more information on the prizes see our dedicated blog page  comp prizes and for details on how to enter see our dedicated blog page   comp entry details.

But in short: entries should be 2,200 words or under.  Fiction in any genre, memoir, life-writing, essays and creative non-fiction on any theme are all welcome. Extracts from longer works will not be considered. The competition is open for entries from the 5th September and the deadline for entries is 15th November 2017. Winners will be announced in January 2018.



Friday, 7 July 2017

News

Words and Women are working hard behind the scenes to create a raft of activities and celebrations for next year. We will release news of these in the forthcoming months.
In the meantime here are a couple of dates for the diary:

5th September we will be launching our annual prose competition with prizes worth over £1,600. Our guest judges are Emma Claire Sweeney and Emily Midorikawa, the authors of A Secret Sisterhood.

10th September – 1st October we will be running a Sunday series of women-only writing workshops in Norwich.

Details will be posted on this blog shortly.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Three Words




These words appear on a sheer white panel of polyester chiffon, which forms the focal point of a textile installation by Jamie-lee Linnitt and Evangeline Dauber created to raise awareness of domestic abuse. Linnitt and Dauber are studying for the BA in Illustration at Norwich University of the Arts and they began to collaborate  in their final year on the course, and together have produced a final piece which is brave, beautiful, carefully-considered and sensitive.
 
How to deal with disturbing subject matter, how to intrigue and draw people in and not have them turn away, how not to sensationalise or trivialise? These are questions that preoccupied the artists, known collectively as SHE KNOWS, as they began to shape the installation.
 
Bravely they chose to tackle the subject of domestic abuse by using that most domestic of materials – the textile. Also the most feminine of materials. Linnitt and Dauber knew they wanted to created a work which would be immersive, which viewers could walk through and round, which would lead the viewer in.  They wanted the work to be soft and beautiful to look at, in order to wrong-foot the viewer just as the abuser often wrong-foots the abused.
 

The installation is comprised of four large panels with two smaller panels sandwiched between. At the rear, is the single white panel with the three words. The large panels are made of silk habotai, hand-painted with procion dye. The marks, made by squidgies and brushes, are in purple and red, the colour of bruising. The smaller panels, made from silk viscose satin, are a deep red, patchy and various as fibres have been removed using a process called devoré. No figurative images but instead abstract, suggestive patterning. The panels are hung together in a way which echoes a family grouping. The larger panels hang from near invisible strings, so they float and have something shroud-like and ghostly about them. They  twist and turn as people pass as if they are twisting and turning from the viewer as if shy or frightened. The panels have the fluidity of skirts, of dresses, and remind the viewer of the female, the feminine.
 
The panels are in a symmetrical arrangement of twos with an aisle leading through the centre. So another association is made; this time with the banners which line either side of an aisle in a Christian church. From this it doesn’t take much to make a link too with weddings, with walking up the aisle to be married. Except there isn’t a priest at the altar but those three powerful words.
 
Linnitt and Dauber say they selected the words for the alliteration, but also that they convey the tactics an abuser may employ. Coerce, Control, Constraint. To the viewer too the words bring coolness. This is the language of academic studies, of the official document, legal papers, the police force. The font chosen is called ‘cocogoose’ and it is in bold. It was chosen for its clarity and because visually it suggests intensity and restriction.  The text contrasts sharply with the softness of the text-ile.
 
Three words.  Perhaps the most famous three words in the English language are I Love You and often, sadly, these can be the precursor to domestic abuse.
 
These artists are working in the tradition of Barbara Kruger (feminist slogans), Tracey Emin (fascination with words and textile), Louise Bourgeois (preoccupation with the body, pain, the textile and words).
 
The installation can be seen at the Norwich University of the Arts degree show, opening on the 27th June. http://www.nua.ac.uk/visit/degreeshows/
 
Accompanying the installation are information packs containing statistics about domestic abuse, contact numbers for help etc. These young women have considered everything, and should be applauded for creating a work which resonates.



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Jamie-lee Linnitt and Evangeline Dauber as SHE KNOWS plan to sell artwork in order to raise money for selected charities. They also plan to hold their own exhibitions in the near future. Keep an eye out for their updates at skcollective0.wixsite.com/sk-co-, or via Instagram, @sk_co_. If anybody would like to talk to them about their work please contact at sk.collective@hotmail.com, or use the 'Contact' page on their website.
 
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Jamie-lee Linnitt is 24 and currently living in Attleborough. Since rediscovering her love of textiles in the last year or so, it has become her main approach to creating work. Her dissertation focused on how effective the use of textiles is when communicating Feminist theories. Feminism is integral to her work and she is interested in all aspects, from body positivity to the treatment of women in varying cultures. 
 
Evangeline Rose Dauber is originally from Lincoln, but has been living in Norwich for the past few years studying Illustration. Her personal practice focuses on female empowerment and challenges the equality between genders. She likes to work mainly in pink and blue to push the stereotype of male and female expectations. Having only just found her feet in textile design, she has a lot more to give and  can’t wait to get started on further projects!
 
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·      1 in 4 women in England and Wales will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes and 8% will suffer domestic violence in any given year (Crime Survey of England and Wales, 2013/14)
·      Globally, 1 in 3 women will experience violence at the hands of a male partner (State of the World’s Fathers Report, MenCare, 2015)
·      Domestic violence has a higher rate of repeat victimisation than any other crime (Home Office, July 2002)
·      Every minute police in the UK receive a domestic assistance call – yet only 35% of domestic violence incidents are reported to the police (Stanko, 2000 & Home Office, 2002)
·      The 2001/02 British Crime Survey (BCS) found that there were an estimated 635,000 incidents of domestic violence in England and Wales. 81% of the victims were women and 19% were men. Domestic violence incidents also made up nearly 22% of all violent incidents reported by participants in the BCS (Home Office, July 2002)
 
For help and advice about domestic violence please contact:
 
·      https://www.womensaid.org.uk
·      https://www.leewaysupport.org