Regional Spaces: Speaking through Landscape in Yorkshire Literature

Online (Microsoft Teams)
Thursday 17th March 2022 (18:00-20:00)
Registration URL

Yorkshire literature is perhaps uniquely fascinated with speaking through landscape. The region’s works collectively articulate a dark, wild, and violent space, through narratives that follow the contours of footpaths, canals, and moors. This is an uncanny landscape, darkly beautiful in the tradition of Emily Brontë and Ted Hughes.

Funded by the CRLC (Centre for Regional Literature and Culture) the School of English is happy to announce that on Thursday 17th March, three contemporary Yorkshire writers will discuss what landscape means to them: how it inspires them, how it shapes their writing, and how it transmutes itself into literary voice. Their works combine past with present, realism with myth, communicating both the timelessness and dynamism of Yorkshire towns and wildernesses.

Michael Stewart

Michael Stewart is a multi-award winning writer, born and brought up in Salford. He moved to Yorkshire in 1995 and is now based in Bradford. He is head of Creative Writing at the University of Huddersfield, where he is editor of Grist Books. His debut novel, King Crow, was awarded the ‘Not the Booker’ prize by The Guardian newspaper in October 2011, and has garnered many excellent reviews. It was selected for the Read Regional campaign and as a recommended read for World Book Night.

 Recent work has focused on the lives and fiction of the Brontës. His 2018 novel Ill Will: The Untold Story of Heathcliff charts Heathcliff’s journey across the moors to Liverpool after leaving Wuthering Heights. Walking the Invisible (2021) explores the Yorkshire locations behind the Brontës’ fictional settings. Stewart is also the creator of the Brontë Stones project, four monumental stones situated in the landscape between the birthplace and the parsonage, inscribed with poems by Kate Bush, Carol Ann Duffy, Jeannette Winterson and Jackie Kay. The four associated walking trails devised by Stewart exemplify his unique capacity to unite literature with landscape.

John Newsham

John Newsham is a poet and novelist born in Bradford, West Yorkshire. He has read at a number of literary festivals across the north of England, including the Ted Hughes Festival and the Bradford Literature Festival. In 2012, a selection of his poetry won a Dorothy Rosenberg Memorial Prize from the University of California, Berkeley, for ‘young poets of unusual promise’. In 2012, Newsham won first prize in the University of Huddersfield’s Gristcompetition for poetry celebrating place in the United Kingdom. His work will also feature in Grist’supcoming ‘Disunited Kingdom’ anthology.

 His 2021 novella Killing the Horses captures the fusion of urban and rural which is unique to Bradford’s outskirts. The novella explores a day in the lives of two boys, so deeply entangled in the violence of their surroundings that they cannot be separated from it. His handling of the dialect and geography of this area articulates a regional identity which is largely overlooked in literature.

Steve Ely

Steve Ely is an award-winning poet, novelist and biographer from Yorkshire. He is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing and Director of the Ted Hughes Network at the University of Huddersfield. Ely’s poetry collections, which include Oswald’s Book of Hours (2013), Englaland (2015), Incendium Amoris (2017), Jubilate Messi (2018) and Lectio Violant (2021), range in topic from football, to birdwatching, to biblical exegesis. His 2015 work Ted Hughes's South Yorkshire: Made in Mexborough illustrates the importance of the poet’s regional background to his work.

Ely lives in the Osgoldcross wapentake in the West Riding of Yorkshire, close to Richard Rolle’s Hampole. Incendium Amoris takes its title and inspiration from the writings of this fourteenth century Yorkshire mystic. Its striking vision of Hampole combines pre-Reformation and post-industrial England, presented through the eyes of the trespasser, the poacher, the recusant and the revolutionary. The result is a fascinatingly composite landscape, in which the past and the present are simultaneously apprehensible.                         

‘In Steve Ely, the North has found its voice’- Ian McMillan

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