Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Bohemian In Middlesbrough

Is there a writer in the house?

FOR some years now, housing associations in the UK have been doing a lot more than providing low-cost – well, relatively low-cost – homes, though that may be coming to an end thanks to Government reforms – but that's another story.

A case in point that illustrates this 'mission creep', if you want to think of it in those terms, is the launch today of a literary competition for people living in Middlesbrough, backed by Erimus Housing.

The housing provider is inviting budding writers of all ages to put pen to paper for the chance to win a cash prize of £500 and see their work published. Literary competitions are common enough, but one backed by a social landlord is a little unusual.

Appropriately enough, given the organisation, the theme of the Bohouse Writing Competition is ‘Home Tomorrow’ and the deadline for entries is 15 March. The winner, along with a number of shortlisted entrants will see their work published in an e-anthology produced by local publishing company Sixth Element.

The competition is named after Erimus’s Bohouse scheme. This provides so-called ‘live/work’ units – studios, if you want to be old-fashioned about it – intended for graduates in the creative and digital industries. The idea is that they’ll stick around and start their own businesses and enhance the local area as a result.

Not enough of these ‘studios’ are ‘garrets’, however, the organisation feels, pointing out a preponderance of visual and digital creatives working in the film and games industries over literary artistes. So Erimus, through Bohouse, has established the writing competition to raise awareness of the scheme among scribblers to address the imbalance.

To encourage more scribes to become ‘nibs in’ with this development, Erimus is working with Writers’ Block to run the competition. The company, based in Middlesbrough’s Broadcasting House says it provides services to new and established writers, hosting training and networking events.

The competition will be judged by the editor of the town’s local newspaper, the Evening Gazette, Darren Thwaites; local writer and BBC broadcaster Natalie Boxall; screenwriters Laura Degnan and James Harris of Writers’ Block, along with Bohouse resident Jo Fairfield.

“We know there’s a lot of undiscovered talent out there and as a partner in the Boho scheme we want to help nurture it and bring it to fruition,” said Chris Smith, managing director of Erimus. “We want as many people as possible to come forward and take part to win this great prize and really help put the area on the creative map.”

Laura Degnan, director of Writers’ Block, added: “We’d really like to find the next J K Rowling.”

Although presumably by that she doesn’t mean entrants must write about the prodigal boy wizard coming home...

So if, you’re a scribbler in Middlesborough or thereabouts, why not write your own ticket for a shot at 500 quid? As Degnan added: “It could be you.”

Well, that's the word on the street, anyway…


  • The winner scoops £500 and publication of their work
  • Theme of ‘Home Tomorrow’
  • Entries no longer than 500 words
  • Closing date 15 March 2011.
  • Judging takes place 21 March 2011
  • Winner to be announced at Writers’ Block showcase event.

Send entries to: laura@writersblockne.com





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