Essex Writers House 2019

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Essex Writers House 2019

1 – 31 March

Essex Writers House returns to Chalkwell Hall for a month of events and opportunities as part of the Essex Book Festival 2019

Open:  Thurs – Sun, 12noon – 5pm (plus evening events)

Metal is delighted to announce the continuation of the exciting partnership with Essex Book Festival that will enable us to transform Chalkwell Hall once again into a pop-up Essex Writers House for the whole month of March 2019.

The month will include a wide range of literary activities that will provide development opportunities for writers working in all genres, whilst engaging with audiences of all ages.

The ground floor of our Grade II listed Chalkwell Hall will become a Writers Café (open from Thurs – Sun, 12noon – 5pm) where people can eat, read, swap books, have a coffee and write in the inspiring grounds of Chalkwell Park. In the evenings the café will become a bar and play host to our programme of readings, talks, discussions, Book Club gatherings – and even a short performance of Banned Books throughout the ages.

Events will include practical seminars for writers who are just starting out, led by invited authors, poets, non-fiction writers, playwrights and screen writers. There will be an ‘open mic’ opportunity at 1pm every day in our Writers Cafe for writers to read and perform short works.  Two ‘hot desks’ with stunning Thames Estuary views will be available each day – to be booked by writers on a first come, first served basis (2 days each – maximum).

Talks, panel discussions and readings by established writers will happen each week, including:-

  • An event to celebrate 40 years of Granta, one of the most independent minded and prestigious literary publishers in the UK.
  • Performances and readings from the newly published Proud–stories, poetry and art on the theme of Pride, compiled by Juno Dawson. To include spoken word performances from young people from across Southend.
  • On 29 March – to mark an historic moment in the UKs recent history, author Tom Bolton will read from his new book, Brexit on the Essex Coast, followed by discussion.
  • An evening of writing from Indonesia – with visiting authors Intan Paramadhita and Ziggy Zezsyazeoviennazabrizkie.
  • An evening to celebrate female writers and writing on International Women’s Day (Fri 8 March). To include short readings and performances from Southend-based writers.
  • And much more.




Having hosted artists of all disciplines in residence at Chalkwell Hall for the last ten years, we know our bedrooms with stunning Thames Estuary views are an inspiring and productive place to stay and create work.  During March, the Essex Writers House will play host to two writers. One from the UK and overseas.

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Dean Atta will be returning to Chalkwell Hall during March, following writing stints here in August and October last year during which he was focused on completing  the first draft of his young adult novel in verse The Black Flamingo – a book he would have liked to have read as a teenager coming to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen.  Now well on its way to being published (by Hodder Children’s Books in August 2019) he will be sharing the work with young audiences as part of our Essex Writers House.  Dean’s debut poetry collection, I Am Nobody’s Nigger, was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. His poems deal with themes of race, gender, identity and growing up, and have appeared on BBC One’s The One Show and several times on BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service and Channel 4. Dean was named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday. He regularly performs across the UK and internationally and is currently a judge of the 2018 BBC Young Writers’ Award.

Photo: Matt Hass


Ziggy 1

Ziggy Zezsyazeoviennazabrizkie  is an Indonesian fiction writer who first came to national attention when she won Jakarta Arts Council Novel Writing Competition with Di Tanah Lada (In Pepper Land, 2015), which was later longlisted for Khatulistiwa Literary Award. She won the same competition in 2016 with Semua Ikan di Langit (All the Fish in the Sky, 2017), for which she was awarded Badan Bahasa Literary Award by Indonesian Ministry of Educations and Cultures. Ziggy mainly writes about children and social criticism, both in forms of literary and popular fiction. Among her numerous popular fiction works, Jakarta Sebelum Pagi (Jakarta Dawning, 2016), her Young Adult novel, received Editor’s Choice Award from Rolling Stones Indonesia.

In 2018, she joined Ruang Perempuan dan Tulisan (Women & Writing), a project that aimed to rediscover forgotten Indonesian female writers. Heavily influenced by this research, her latest manuscript was described as a “feminist narration on unspoken Indonesian history” and received an honourable mention from Jakarta Arts Council.

Ziggy has been supported by the National Organising Committee of Indonesia and the British Council.


1 – 31 March

9am  –  9pm

Two ‘Hot Desks for Hire’ with spectacular views of the Thames Estuary are available to writers, FREE OF CHARGE, to book by the day (9am – 9pm) for the duration of the Pop Up Essex Writers House.  We have named these desks after two great writers who spent time writing in Essex and being inspired by the Essex landscapes.  

  • Joseph Conrad, who lived for many years in Stanford-le-Hope from 1896 and wrote some of his best known works in Essex
  • Poet Ruth Pitter CBE (b.1897 – 1992) who was born in Ilford when it was still officially part of Essex.  She published 17 volumes of poetry during her lifetime and was the first woman to receive the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 1955.  She was appointed a CBE in 1979 to honour her many contributions to English literature.

Both desks have inspiring Thames Estuary Views, access to a kitchen, and a lively café space downstairs for breaks.  What more is needed for a space away from domestic distractions.  Bookings are limited to two days, per person. 

To Book our Conrad Desk – CLICK HERE.

To Book our Pitter Desk – CLICK HERE.

Please note – we are restricting bookings to a maximum of two days per writer, to ensure that the opportunity is afforded to as many writers as possible.


Cafe 3


1 –  31 March
12noon  –  5pm (Thurs – Sun)

From Voltaire to Hemingway and Sue Townsend to JK Rowling writers have a long tradition of people watching, writing and observing life from cafés and bars. Come and enjoy a cuppa in our Pop Up Writers Cafe, with Book Swap / Book Shop / 1 o’clock Reads and individual events throughout the month.

Daily at 1pm – 10 Min Read (Open Mic opportunity)

Thurs – Sun throughout March.

We invite writers of all ages, experience levels and genres to share their work at the Essex Writers House, in the cosy setting of our Writers Cafe.
At 1 o’clock each day during our programme (Thurs – Sun throughout March) we are excited to host a different writer to read up to 10 minutes of original material to an intimate, friendly audience.

To sign up, book your preferred date here. 
Our space is fully accessible and we welcome everyone to read.



Fri 1 March

8pm – 10pm

Old Trunk present a Politics edition of their sell-out & often mischievous new writing and storytelling night Damn Write.  Come hear some knuckle-whitening rants and head-scratching musings by writers just as WTF as you. There won’t be salvation, but there’ll be booze.  Hosted with feverish confusion by Sadie Hasler and Sarah Mayhew. Warning: May contain anger and swearing.

Tickets:  £5

Box Office:  Book Tickets Here



It is with regret and apologies for any disappointment that we are announcing the cancellation of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Women.

We hope that one of the other events might catch your interest


Science Fiction, Fantasy and Women

Sat 2 March

7pm – 10pm

Join Laure Eve (The Graces, 2016 Faber & Faber; The Curses, 2019 Faber & Faber) and Samantha Shannon (The Bone Season series, 2013-2017, Bloomsbury; The Priory of the Orange Tree, 2019, Bloomsbury) in conversation.

Men have famously dominated science fiction and fantasy, both in terms of writers and readers. The genres have also been well known for their absence of nuanced female characters.  But with such developments as an all female edition of the iconic comic 2000 AD and the fact that more women are, at last, winning the Arthur C Clarke Awards and the US Hugos, are we are making headway or is there still a long way to go?

Tickets:          £5



Kirsty and Syd


Syd Moore in Conversation with Kirsty Brimelow QC

Sun 3 March

7.30pm – 10pm

In January 2019 an international conference brought together experts to explore past, present, and future perspectives on witchcraft beliefs and persecution with a focus on present day witchcraft practices and human rights abuses across the UK and the world.  It was at this event that author Syd Moore and leading, international human rights barrister, Kirsty Brimelow QC met and discovered a shared passion and campaign.

Fans of Syd Moore’s fiction will be aware that her mystery novels are based on historic witch hunts (Drowning Pool, 2011 and Witch Hunt, 2012, Harper Collins; Strange Trilogy, 2017-2018, Oneworld). In this evening talk she will outline how dark chapters of the grim past of Essex have inspired her writing and will invite Kirsty to discuss how the horrors of history and witchcraft persecution are by no means a thing of the past but are behind some of the most serious and cruellest crimes globally.

Strictly Over 18s only.

Tickets:          £5

Box Office:     Book Tickets Here


Little Busy Book Club (002)


Thurs 7 and 14 March

11am – 12noon

Like any other book club, except it’s for children aged 3 And 4 years old (and their grown- ups). Join Jacqson Diego Story Emporium to read and share books and explore the stories and characters in fun ways. There will be a new book to explore each week and lots of games and activities to play and do.

Tickets: FREE but booking essential

Box Office: Book Tickets Here

NB: Funded by Jacqson Diego Story EmporiumEach week the books we explore will be on sale at a subsidised price of £5 for anyone who would like continue exploring at home.


FUTURE PARK– International Women’s Day special

Fri 8 March

7.30pm – 10pm

Metal’s regular social for artists working in all disciplines goes fully female for an evening celebration of creativity and expression. 10 x 3 min open mic spots, followed by a guest speaker.

Our guest speaker for this International Women’s Day special edition of Future Park is Katie Greenall.  Fresh from a critically acclaimed run at the Vaults Festival of her first full-length show, FATTY FAT FAT she will perform an extract of the show, followed by a conversation about her motivations and process for making it.  The work is a funny, frank and provocative solo show about living in a body the world tells you to hate.

Leave your diet books at the door.

KatieGreenall Balloons

Katie Greenall is a facilitator, theatre maker and spoken word artist currently living in NE London. After graduating in 2017 from East 15 Acting School with a degree in Acting and Community Theatre, Katie has been running workshops with young people all over London – including The Yard, The Arcola, National Youth Theatre and Central School of Speech and Drama. She was a member of the Poetry Collective at the Roundhouse (17-18), where she performed as part of Last Word Festival, as well as reaching the final of The Roundhouse Poetry Slam and of Scottee’s Hamburger Queen competition at Shoreditch Town Hall. She is currently a Resident Artist at the Roundhouse and is on the 2019 Soho Theatre Writer’s Lab programme.

Tickets:           FREE but booking essential

Box Office:    Book Tickets Here



Sat 9 March

Life’s a Pitch

1.30pm – 4.30pm

“So, tell me all about yourself…” 

Does that sentence fill you with horror? Do you clam up? Or worse, do you start to ramble incoherently until the other person’s eyes glaze over?

Fear no more! This is a workshop that shows you how to use creative writing techniques in the everyday world. Movies and books are built around hooks, conflict and mystery – that’s how they keep us engaged, and you can use the same techniques when approaching anything from job interviews, to the dreaded UCAS form, to your bio on that dating site.

Led by Richard Kurti.

In 20 years as a professional writer, Richard Kurti has worked for a huge range of companies, from Hollywood majors like Warner Bros, Universal and Miramax, via the BBC, ITV and Sky, right through to indies who fly by the seat of their pants.

As a screenwriter he has put words into the mouths of everyone from Isaac Newton to Sherlock Holmes, and created actions sequences for everything from drug dealers to Boxtrolls.

On radio he has built plots for Dan Dare, Mowgli and Isaac Asimov’s robots; as a novelist he has imagined worlds for monkeys and genetic mutants.

And at each stage, he has sat opposite the ‘people with power’ and pitched his ideas.

“So, tell me all about the project…”

Armed with a few simple tools, you will no longer fear these words, but see them as a golden opportunity…

Tickets:           £10

Box Office:      Book Tickets Here


Netpark Walks 4


Sat 9 March 2pm – 3.30pm

Suggested Ages:  5 – 8 years

Come and experience this GPS located adventure story set in Chalkwell Park.  Experience the park as you never have before through iPad audio. Each chapter takes you on a rip-roaring quest and journey around the park – followed by a short writing workshop when you return to our Writers Cafe?

Tickets: Free but booking essential

Box Office: Book Tickets Here

N.B. Metal have iPads to loan – so don’t worry if you don’t have your own.


Paradisus Portrait

Wed 13 March

Paradisus Launch

5.30pm – 6.30pm

Meet the next generation of Southend pioneers – the writers, designers, publishers and artists of the future. Metal’s Arts Award students launch the third edition of their zine, Paradisus. Created entirely by the students themselves as a vehicle to communicate through images, the issues that are important to them.

‘PARADISUS : freedom’ is a third wave look into how students at Metal arts award have developed their art into a collaborative piece focusing on the artistic concept of individual freedoms.

“Exploring the concept of freedom challenges us as artists to look more analytically at our own work and art.”

– Faith O’Brien, Editor

Copies are for sale at £2, with all funds going towards the production of the next issue.  You can pre-order your copy at our Box Office – follow the link to book a ticket.

All welcome – we hope to see you there.

Tickets:  FREE but please book (and follow the link to pre-order your copy of Paradisus for £2)

Box Office: Book Tickets Here.


15 Intan Paramadhita

Intan Paramaditha and Ziggy Zezsyazeoviennazabrizkie in conversation with Syd Moore

Fri 15 March


Intan Paramaditha is an Indonesian writer whose collection of short stories, Apple and Knife, re-writes traditional Indonesian folk tales through a feminist horror lens.  Syd Moore’s mystery thrillers are inspired by her research into the myths of Essex, where she grew up and lives.  Join us as these two extraordinary women meet to discuss their work, their different perspectives and what it means to re-write these old stories and myths with a contemporary, feminist slant.

Ziggy Zezsyazeoviennazabrizkie is Metal’s Writer in Residence for the Essex Writers House project, also from Indonesia. 

Tickets: £7 / £5 (25yrs and under)

Box Office: Mercury Theatre – 01206 573948


Netpark Walks 6 - adults - photoMichaelaFreeman

NETPARK STORIES:  Garden of Remember

Sat 16 March


Suggested Ages:  15years and above

Created by a writer, artist and illustrator working with Tony, Alan and Eddie who have all lived with dementia and a group of young students from Westborough Primary School.  Garden of Remember takes audiences on a tour of stories and past loves remembered and told in fragments in this moving and uplifting work.  Experienced via audio through an iPad, the work is not verbatim but captures through poetic written text and performed words both the current lives and remembered past of all those who contributed.

Funded through NHS England and created through Metal and Southend Borough Councils partnership project, the NetPark Wellbeing Project.

Tickets: Free but booking essential

Box Office: Book Tickets Here

N.B. Metal have iPads to loan – so don’t worry if you don’t have your own.


Scriptwriters Image


Sat 16 March

11am – 2.30pm (with ½ hour lunch break)

The short film is often overlooked as a story telling medium, but it can be a great calling card for the new writer or those coming from other writing disciplines. This half day course run by Maria Solecki is designed to equip those new to writing short films. You’ll leave with an understanding of: the role of the short film; the role of the screenwriter; what makes a great short; and mistakes to avoid. We’ll explore why less is most definitely more- and why short form story telling can be just as powerful as other forms.

Maria Solecki holds an MA in Screenwriting (Fiction) from the Northern Film School. Her short film Moja Kochanna Anna (My Love Anna) screened at several festivals and won Audience Award at Hyde Park Picture house in 2010. Since then she has run

Tickets:           £10  (limited places)

Box Office:      Book Tickets Here




Performed talk – followed by pub quiz

By Syd Moore and Daryl Easlea

Sat 16 March

7.30pm – 10.30pm

Throughout history books have been barred, banned and even burnt having incurred the wrath of the censors for the strangest of reasons. Many of them remain on the prohibition list in different parts of the globe today. Join writers Syd Moore and Daryl Easlea as they reprise their celebrated and entertaining show about silenced stories and their story-tellers.

Followed by a quiz about all things bookish.

Tickets:           £5

Box Office:      Book Tickets Here


17 Granta Turns 40

GRANTA TURNS 40:  Stella Duffy, Devorah Baum and Ros Porter

Sun 17 March


To celebrate 40 years of the UK’s most prestigious literary magazine, join writer Stella Duffy, Professor Devorah Baum and Ros Porter, Deputy Editor of Granta Magazine, as they discuss the importance of literary magazines for both readers and writers.

Tickets: £7 / £5 (25yrs and under)

Box Office: Mercury Theatre – 01206 573948


Book Club Get Together - animal farm


Thurs 21 March 

7.30pm (reading starts at 8pm)

Did you know – Essex has more Book Clubs than any other county in the UK? Come to our mass gathering of Essex book lovers. We are suggesting the short, classic text Animal Farm by George Orwell, to read before you come.  Yes, we know you’ve probably read it already, but we’re guessing not since you were at school, right?  Now is definitely the time to read it again and rediscover Orwell’s genius and just how pertinent “the greatest political fable” still is.   And if you haven’t got time to read it – come along anyway – we’ll be performing a short extract that evening……

Hosted by Jules Easlea.  Dramatic reading by Sarah Mayhew of Old Trunk Theatre.

Tickets:  FREE but booking essential – Book here.


Simon James Green 1

Sat 23 March

Workshop: Writing Comedy

Ages 12 – 19 yrs

11am – 4pm (with an hour for lunch)

Author and screenwriter, Simon James Green gives you his top tips through a series of fast-paced exercises to create and develop character. Designed to allow students to really get to ‘know’ their fictional creations in a way that will bring them to life on the page. Includes guided writing exercises to develop attention grabbing opening lines and comedic scenes.

Whether its poetry, prose, a short story or your debut novel that you’ve ambitions to write – Simon will have some useful insights for you.

Simon James Green is an author and screenwriter. His debut novel for young adults, Noah Can’t Even, was published by Scholastic in May 2017, followed by the sequel, Noah Could Never, in June 2018. The books have also been optioned for TV by Urban Myth Films. Simon’s screen credits include co-writing feature-length rom-com Rules of Love (BBC), and a short stint directing Hollyoaks (C4).

Tickets:           £5

Box Office:      Book Tickets Here



Netpark image photo credit Alison Ballard

NETPARK STORIES:  Sound and Poetry Tour by Mark Grist and MC Mixy

Sat 23 March


Suggested Ages:  5 – 8yrs – The ‘What Said That?’ tour

13yrs and above – The 30 Year Love Story

Take the What Said That tour and see if you can solve our poetry riddles.  Or if you’re a bit older, why not listen to our hip-hop love story, told in the very sites where it all played out for real as our two protaganists grow up in Chalkwell Park.

Created by writers and performers Mark Grist and MC Mixy, stars of YouTube, BBC, ITV and Channel 4, the works are GPS located with the park and experienced via audio through an iPad or smartphone.

Tickets: Free but booking essential Box Office: Book Tickets Here

N.B. Metal have iPads to loan – so don’t worry if you don’t have your own.


DSCF9145 copy

Sat 23 March

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

5pm – 7pm 

Grab your opportunity to meet our Writer in Residence and get a sneak preview of The Black Flamingo prior to its publication in hardback, set for August 2019 (Hachette Children’s Group).

Fiercely told, this is a timely coming-of-age story told in verse and written by the celebrated poet, Dean Atta. A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness.

‘I masquerade in makeup and feathers and I am applauded.’

The Black Flamingo is filled with stunning wordplay and powerful emotional honesty that will connect readers as much with their own stories as with the one on the page,”  Lyall Grant, Hachette Children’s Group.

Dean is particularly keen to welcome young adults to the audience.

Tickets:           FREE but booking essential

Box Office:     Book Tickets Here


Poly Styrene - image

Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story

by Celeste Bell and Zoe Howe

Sat 23 March


Join Celeste and Zoe for this pre-publication launch of their much anticipated new biography of Poly Styrene.  Tickets are FREE – with an exclusive opportunity to purchase a signed advance copy for £20 (20% discount – RRP £25) when you book a ticket to this event – to be collected on the evening.  With DJ set from Pegbags.

Poly Styrene was a singer-songwriter, an artist, a free-thinker, a post-modern style pioneer and a lifelong spiritual seeker:  a true punk icon.  But this rebel queen with the cheeky grin was also a latter-day pop artist with a wickedly perceptive gift for satirising the world around her – her brightly coloured, playful aesthetic sharply at odds with the stark monochrome style and nihilism of punk. Here, for the first time, the vibrant jigsaw of Polys inspiring and often moving story has been lovingly pieced together by her daughter, singer-songwriter Celeste Bell, and writer/artist Zoë Howe (author of the acclaimed Typical Girls? The Story Of The Slits, amongst many others).

From growing up mixed-race in Brixton in the 1960s, to being at the forefront of the emerging punk scene with X-Ray Spex in the 1970s, to finding faith with the Hare Krishna movement, to balancing single motherhood with a solo music career and often debilitating mental health issues, the book honestly and openly explores Polys exceptional life, up until her untimely passing in 2011.

Based on interviews with those who knew and loved Poly whether personally or through music, this oral history book includes testimonies from Vivienne Westwood, Don Letts, Glen Matlock, Jonathan Ross, Neneh Cherry, The Slits Tessa Pollitt, Thurston Moore, Jon Savage, and many others.

Heavily illustrated throughout including personal photographs, flyers from the punk scene and hand-drawn artwork and lyrics for X-Ray Spex and beyond the book beautifully captures Poly Styrene s creative and personal legacy, reminding us that if anyone had the power to turn our worlds dayglo, it was her.

Tickets: Free but booking essential. 

N.B.  Don’t miss out on the opportunity to purchase a signed, advance copy  of the book with 20% discount when you reserve your FREE ticket to the launch.

Box Office: Book Tickets Here


Zoe Howe portrait

Sun 24 March

Music Writing  – with Zoë Howe

11.30am – 3.30pm (with an hour for lunch)

Zoë Howe (‘one of the UK’s great biographers’ – Dr Simon Warner, Text & Drugs & Rock ’n’ Roll) joins us fresh from launching her latest book Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story here at Essex Writer’s House the night before  to run an entertaining music writing workshop for all levels. Themes to be discussed include interview techniques, research, classic music writing and dissecting what works (and what doesn’t), general tips and guidance and the revelation that nailing good practice will not only improve your output but can enrich everyday life in unexpected ways, and, yes, can even make you sexier. Genuinely. Sign up and find out more…

Writer, artist and musician Zoë Howe is the acclaimed author of eleven books, including rock biographies of artists such as Poly Styrene, The Slits, Wilko Johnson, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Stevie Nicks, Lee Brilleaux and Florence + The Machine to name a few. Her debut rock ’n’ roll novel Shine On, Marquee Moon was shortlisted for the Virginia Prize for Fiction. Zoë is also working with Poly Styrene’s daughter Celeste (her Dayglo co-author) on the documentary film I Am A Cliché (release TBC). Musically, Zoë has worked with Viv Albertine, Mick Jones, Steve Beresford, Yumi Hara, Charli XCX, Helen McCookeryBook, The Raincoats, The Plan, Platypus, Wobbly Lamps and others. /

Tickets: £10

Box Office: Book Tickets Here


28 John McGhie and Lucy Popescu


Thurs 28 March


Lucy Popescu, chair of the Authors Club Best First Novel Award, announces the Shortlist for 2019.  She will be in conversation with John McGhie about his 2018 shortlisted novel White Highlands and the value of literary awards.  Set in Kenya, White Highlands is an outstanding evocation of colonial imperialism and its aftermath.

Tickets: £7 / £5 (25yrs and under)

Box Office: Mercury Theatre – 01206 573948



Low Country: Brexit on the Essex Coast:  Tom Bolton

Fri 29 March 


Celebrated walker and essayist Tom Bolton walks the boggy, winding coastline of Essex, encountering stunning landscapes, wind-battered towns and front-garden Union Jacks. Spanning both landscape and political writing, Low Country interrogates the natural and social environments of Essex, asking why its particular politics is so pronounced, and what we can learn from the countys role in shaping the nation.

Tom Bolton is a writer and researcher. He writes books and essays about cities, places, landscape and culture. He is the author of Vanished City: London’s Lost Neighbourhoods, London’s Lost Rivers: A Walker’s Guide and Camden Town: Dreams of Another London. Based on these books Tom has given talks delving into hidden histories and cultures to cover topics as diverse as opium and Limehouse Chinatown, social housing and Somers town, White City and the 1908 Olympics.

Tickets: £5

Box Office: Book Tickets Here


Proud Anthology - image

Proud:  Stories, Poetry and Art on the theme of Pride

Dean Atta and Caroline Bird perform, alongside young poets from Southend.

Sat 30 March 


Join poets Dean Atta and Caroline Bird for an evening of LGBTQ+ poetry performances to celebrate the publication of PROUD, an anthology of writing, poems and art for teens by LGBTQ+ creatives, compiled by Juno Dawson.   Aspiring young performers from Southend will also take the mic to share aloud their own creative writing and poems on the theme of pride.

A stirring, bold and moving anthology of stories and poetry by YA authors and illustrators responding to the broad theme of pride, PROUD is a rainbow-riotous celebration of LGBTQ+ talent. Each piece of writing has an accompanying illustration by an artist identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community. PROUD is a thought-provoking, funny, and emotional read that uplifts and empowers LGBTQ+ youth and opens the hearts and minds of young allies. Published 7 March by Stripes

Tickets: £5

Box Office: Book Tickets Here.


Situated Practice: a one day creative writing course relating to place

Sat 30 March  

10am – 5pm (lunch included in ticket price)

Writing to evoke an unmistakable sense of place, paying attention to people, atmosphere, soundscape and landscape. With the celebrated author Lee Rourke (short-story collection Everyday, the novel The Canal (winner of the Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize 2010) and the poetry collection Varroa Destructor. His latest novel Vulgar Things is published in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and the US by 4th Estate, Harper Collins. His debut novel The Canal is being adapted to film by Storyhouse Productions, summer 2018).

Tickets:             £25   (limited places)

Box Office:      Book Tickets Here


Lowborn HB

Sun 31 March


4pm – 6pm

Prize winning novelist, Kerry Hudson in conversation with Southend based creative producer, Jules Easlea in advance of the May 2019 publishing date of her new book, Lowborn.  The book asks what does it really mean to be poor in Britain today? As Kerry revisits her childhood and some of the country’s most deprived towns

‘When every day of your life you have been told you have nothing of value to offer, that you are worth nothing to society, can you ever escape that sense of being ‘lowborn’ no matter how far you’ve come?’

Kerry Hudson is proudly working class but she was never proudly poor. The poverty she grew up in was all-encompassing, grinding and often dehumanising. Always on the move with her single mother, Kerry attended nine primary schools and five secondaries, living in B&Bs and council flats. She scores eight out of ten on the Adverse Childhood Experiences measure of childhood trauma.

Twenty years later, Kerry’s life is unrecognisable. She’s a prizewinning novelist who has travelled the world. She has a secure home, a loving partner and access to art, music, film and books. But she often finds herself looking over her shoulder, caught somehow between two worlds.

Lowborn is Kerry’s exploration of where she came from, revisiting the towns she grew up in to try to discover what being poor really means in Britain today and whether anything has changed. She also journeys into the hardest regions of her own childhood, because sometimes in order to move forwards we first have to look back.

Tickets:             £5   (including a free, celebratory drink at 6pm as this is our last Essex Writers House event of the month)

Box Office:      Book Tickets Here




Here are details about what happened at last years Essex Writers House:

As part of the March 2018 Essex Book Festival, Metal transformed Chalkwell Hall into a Pop-Up Essex Writers House for the whole month.

We embarked on the project to create a space and a set of events that were for writers, by writers and celebrating writers, working in all genres.

Conceived as curated programme but also partly as a campaign for better support and more visibility for the writers and literary life of Essex – events across the month included:-

  • 29 days
  • 40 events
  • 1000+ audiences
  • 150 participants – taking part in writing courses, book clubs and workshops
  • 153 writers & artists – reading their work, taking part in programme and accessing opportunities
  • 2 International writers-in-residence
  • 4 UK writers-in-residence
  • 12 writers taking part in an intensive, week-long LAB
  • A lively writers café and bar for events and conversation
  • Writing Hot Desks with stunning Thames Estuary views
  • A daily 1pm Open Mic read

Such was the energy in the house, with writers loving the atmosphere and opportunities to talk, collaborate and share info we are continuing to pursue the idea of finding a home for a permanent Essex Writers House.

See here and here for just two examples of blogs written and shared by writers during the month – and see our film and images below for more information.

You can have your say online too – by filling in our What Writers Want Questionnaire. Just follow the link.

For details about the full programme of the Pop Up Essex Writers House which ran from 1st to 29th March 2018 and all the artists involved, please follow the link.


Sign up to receive our e-newsletters (from our home page), if you would like to be kept in touch the Essex Writers House and other Metal activities and events.


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