Novels, plays, flash fiction, poetry, spoken word, non-fiction, novellas, street art, comic books – whatever your literary bag, Manchester has got you covered.
From supportive short courses for those who are ready to tentatively dip their toes into the world of literature, to creative writing degrees offered by two world-class writing schools, there are opportunities available at every level to develop your practice in Manchester.
If you’re not sure where to start, here’s an overview of what’s on offer.
For those looking for a higher education qualification in their discipline, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Manchester offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in English and Creative Writing. In both cases, their academic staff is second to none and you’ll find yourself being taught by some of the most well-known and respected names in the industry, including authors and poets whose books may well already line your shelves.
If you’re not in the market for a degree, then there are plenty of short courses on offer. Manchester Metropolitan University has several of these available, ranging from a scriptwriting masterclass to a course on how to build a children’s story. Away from the city’s academic classrooms, Comma Press offers short story courses and Write Like a Grrrl has options including fiction, poetry and nature-writing.
Tired of writing on your own? We hear you. We know that writing is one of life’s greatest joys – but we also know it can be a lonely pursuit! Fortunately, Manchester has some fantastic groups to help inspire you and ultimately develop your craft. Commonword is a writing development organisation that provides opportunities for new and aspiring writers. It’s home to the well-established Identity group, which takes part in masterclasses, workshops, seminars, and more.
Commonword also hosted Young Identity for six years of its life. Now a charity in its own right, Young Identity delivers poetry and spoken word workshops for young people and helps to develop some of the most exciting new young performers on the scene. The group has worked with big names such as Lemn Sissay and Kae Tempest, as well as performing all over the UK and internationally.
There are also a number of traditional creative writing groups, where writers of all disciplines can meet up on a regular basis to share their work and give each other thoughtful feedback. The Monday Night Group of Writers is one of the city’s most established groups, Manchester Muslim Writers meet once a month and run sessions for poets, novelists, screenplay writers, playwrights and bloggers, and Manchester Women Writers hold their welcoming weekly writing group once a week in City Library.
Spoken word nights
Call us biased but we think Manchester has one of the best spoken word scenes in the country (if not the world!). There is an undeniable feeling that our city is at the cutting edge when it comes to nurturing spoken word talent – and with more than a dozen regular nights taking place across the city, there’s room for everyone to take their place at the mic stand.
Of those 12+ nights, there’s Word Central hosted by Tony Curry and taking place at Manchester Central Library, That’s What She Said which is deftly compèred by Jane Bradley in Tribeca, and Bad Language which has its home in the Northern Quarter’s Gullivers. Our event page is a great place to keep up to date and if you’re hosting your own spoken word night, please do add it to our calendar.
Submitting your work to a competition, whether you scoop the first prize or not, can boost your writing. Competitions can push us to hone our work, give us a newfound focus, and add structure to our writing.
Manchester Metropolitan University hosts the annual Manchester Writing Competition, offering prizes for both fiction and poetry. The competitions are open to both new and established writers and there are some significant prizes to be won, with both offering £10,000 to their respective winners.
Poets & Players, who are known for their programming of poets and musicians at the Whitworth Art Gallery, also host a yearly poetry competition, with past judges including Jackie Kay, Pascale Petit, and Jacob Polley. The winner of the competition receives a cash reward and the chance to read their poem at a Poets & Players event.
Although not based in Manchester, New Writing North supports writing and reading in the north of England. The Northern Writers’ Awards were founded in 2000 and invites writers from across the north of England to submit their unpublished work-in-progress for judging. The scope for the awards is broad, so it’s worth checking to see if your chosen practice fits the bill.
Manchester City of Literature regularly posts about upcoming opportunities and competitions, so be sure to keep an eye on our social media feeds for up to date information.
To learn more about what’s happening in the city or to upload your own upcoming workshop, activity or organised event, visit our Events page and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter, where we regularly send out opportunities and updates for writers.