Creative Future host readings from their anthology of impossible things / 29 September 2015
Last night the Free Word Centre in Holborn played host to writers from the Creative Future Literary Award ceremony reading poetry and prose pieces on the theme of ‘impossible things’. With support from Lemn Sissay and Maggie Gee and prizes of cash and mentoring from the Literary Consultancy the room buzzed with interpretations of the idea of ‘impossibility’: everything from Catherine Edmunds inanimate furniture to Peter Jordan’s ever-expanding warrior.
I was struck by the affectionate portrait of Jackie Hagan’s ‘Edna’: a character whose impossible spirit cannot fail to invigorate. Edna features in Jackie’s one-woman show 'Some People Have Too Many Legs', which is a must-see when it tours again this winter.
For Lemn Sissay compering the evening there is something “freeing” about the self-selection process for the CF Awards, reaching out to marginalised and disabled writers. Self-selection as ‘disabled’ has always been a tenet of the Disability Arts Movement, but any kind of labelling has its drawbacks. There are valid criticisms of the processes of both the definition and the self-selection of an identity.
Rowan James’ spoken word show ‘Easy For You To Say’ that Dao helped get to Edinburgh with a crowdfunding campaign (brilliantly produced by Alice Holland) is a rhythmic and poetic look at the insufferable excesses of the ‘tick box’ system. Essentially tick boxes allow bureaucracies to dodge any real, effective inclusion of disabled people by replacing the needs of individuals with the self-satisfaction of meaningless statistics.
Allowing individuals to self-select gets around the artificiality of imposing definitions as one thing or another: it’s up to the individual person to say what or who they are; to own their identity, rather than it being imposed from without. But it’s important to bear in mind that ’being disabled’ is a tautology. It is not an embodiment, not something that’s ‘wrong’ with the person, but a social construct that says something profound about the way society is organised.
The aim of programmes like Creative Future Literary Awards is to reach out to creative people who don’t have the kinds of privileges owned by writers with a degree of financial backing, reputation and access to the ‘gatekeepers’… Creative Future offers an alternative route to being published or maybe just encouragement to realise the value of being creative. I know from personal experience how a little bit can go a long way.
The key to Creative Futures’ success in attracting more than double the number of entries this year is their focus, above all, on creativity and the purpose writing serves to widen the horizon and open up the opportunity to make the impossible, possible. As Maggie Gee eloquently put it: “writing is a break for freedom, a run into the light, a rebellion and the chance to put into words what it feels dangerous to speak.”
For a copy of the anthology ‘Impossible Things’ or to find out more about the Creative Future Literary Awards go to http://www.cfliteraryawards.org.uk