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I know, I wish, I will

Writing on the Wall is delighted to be working with Eastside Educational Trust to celebrate their 25th anniversary year (2019). Together we will be assembling thousands of young people from across England and beyond, to create the world’s longest, youth-led, spoken word poem.

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George Garrett Archive Project

The George Garrett Archive project was created by Writing on the Wall to celebrate and preserve the legacy of the Liverpool born writer, George Garrett (1896-1966).

Garrett and Orwell on The One Show!

         Garrett and Orwell’s historic meeting in 1936 featured on The One Show

The George Garrett Archive project was created by Writing on the Wall to celebrate and preserve the legacy of the Liverpool born writer, George Garrett (1896-1966).

On Wednesday 20th November The One show screen a short film about when George Orwell met George Garrett, in February 1936 in Liverpool, when Orwell was researching The Road to Wigan Pier.


Richard Blair and Sean Garrett
being filmed in Central Library.


The film features Orwell’s son, Richard Blair and Garrett’s grandson, Sean Garrett, who met in Liverpool to discuss how the lives of the two writers, one, Orwell, who achieved major recognition in his lifetime, and Garrett, who achieved recognition in the late 1930s, but sank into post-war obscurity, crossed in 1936.

George Garrett, Merchant Seaman, writer, playwright and founder member of Liverpool’s Unity Theatre, was a radical activist who travelled the world and wrote a series of short stories, stage plays and documentary reports about poverty and struggle in the 1920’s and 30’s.

George Orwell, who was then researching his seminal work on poverty, The Road to Wigan Pier, was introduced to Garrett, who showed him round Liverpool, visiting the docker’s hiring stands and the new corporation housing, before Garrett dropped him off at Wigan Pier.

Sean Garrett and Richard Blair, George Orwell's son,
holding the original ship in a bottle bought by
George Orwell in Liverpool in 1936.


Garrett took Orwell around Liverpool’s housing estates, to the Docker’s stand and then to Wigan. They appear to have got on well together and sat up in the night discussing literature and politics. Garrett was well-travelled and known for being well-read and would no doubt have been able to hold his own in discussions with Orwell. 


Orwell confessed to ‘being very impressed by Garrett’, even more so when he realised Garrett also wrote under the pseudonym also Matt Low, with more stories published than he previously realised.



Richard Blair holding a picture
of himself 
aged three on Orwell's knee.


‘I urged him to write his autobiography’ wrote Orwell, but, as usual, living in about two rooms on the dole with a wife (who, I gather, objects to his writing) and a number of kids, he finds it impossible to settle to any long work and can only do short stories. Apart from the enormous unemployment in Liverpool it is almost impossible for him to get work because he is blacklisted everywhere as a Communist.’ (Garrett, like many activists had flirted with the Communist party briefly, but was actually a lifelong syndicalist, having joined the Industrial Workers of the World, or The Wobblies, as they were better known, during his time in America in the early 1920s).


In his diaries Orwell wrote that while he was with Garrett, he ‘Bought two brass candlesticks and a ship in a bottle. G considered I was swindled but they are quite nice brass.’ 



In a very touching and fitting end to the day’s filming, Richard Blair produced the very ship in a bottle that Orwell had bought in Liverpool in 1936. Sean was surprised, and probably a little more moved than he would have expected to be. 

Orwell and Garrett never met again, but, inspired by Orwell’s advice and fired up by his view of The Road to Wigan Pier, Garrett did set out to write his autobiography, Ten Years On The Parish. Sadly, it was never published in his lifetime, but, after being rediscovered in a suitcase by the Garrett Archive Project, Liverpool University Press published it in 2017, along with Garrett’s correspondence with his editor John Lehman as Ten Years On The Parish, The Life and Letters of George Garrett.













 




Writing on the Wall Co-Director Mike Morris with Sean Garrett 
and Richard Blair outside Unity Theatre, Liverpool.



You can find out more about Garrett’s life and work by purchasing Ten Years On The Parish here

The George Garrett Archive Group will be talking about Garrett’s life and work at Liverpool’s Central Library, 6pm, on Wednesday 20th March, and launching a new 8-week education course – all welcome. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details.

Mike Morris, Co-Director, Writing on the Wall. www.writingonthewall.org.uk

Since 2013 a team of volunteers – The Garretteers – have been collecting, collating Garrett’s archive, which is now available for viewing and research In Liverpool’s record Office, based on the 3rd floor of Liverpool’s central Library. In 2017 Liverpool University Press published Ten Years On The Parish, The Autobiography and Letters of George Garrett. The project has published An Introduction to George Garrett, produced two rehearsed readings of his plays Two Tides and Flowers and Candles, held numerous exhibitions and talks, created an installation in conjunction with Liverpool John Moores University’s John Lennon Art and Design Academy, and delivered school-based educational and literacy projects – George Garrett, The Travelling Man.

Click here to buy Ten Years on the Parish


If you would like to find out more information about the project, and/or book speakers or commission a project for your organisation or event, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Click here to go to The George Garrett Archive Project Website
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Creating Pathways for New Writers

A Response to: 'Let’s be frank, it takes more than talent alone to produce Fleabag' by Frances Ryan 

Read the full Guardian article here

 
“Even the capacity to imagine writing for a living when you grow up can be a privilege if you see no one around you in these jobs.”


Interesting angle from the Guardian on Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s recent comedy Fleabag – a story about a 30-something woman trying to stay afloat in her world of fractured relationships and unreliable emotions. The show’s frank and often ugly of treatment of vulnerability and family clashes is something most of us can relate to, but it’s a fair point to consider how many of us could actually write about it in the way Phoebe has managed with Fleabag. 

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Can writing restore communities?

In a world of social media, stressful jobs and difficult family life it has become easier and easier for people to lose touch with one another. The sense of community we once had is fading and nobody seems to be doing anything about it. But how do we restore it? What would bring people together, get them talking, discuss something other than the gripes of their day job, having a real conversation rather than communicating through emojis, getting to know someone without swiping right first. The answer is simple – writing.


Liverpool itself is a very diverse community with its own unique culture. 8% of the population are Black, Asian or belong to another ethnic minority. The city has the oldest Black African community in the United Kingdom and the oldest Chinese community in Europe. Additionally, there are over 94,000 LGBTQ+ persons living in Liverpool and they host many events to celebrate their community such as Liverpool Pride festival and the LGBT Trail. We also feel very proud of the culture in our city – Liverpool has been named European capital of culture. It is the home of many incredible writers, musicians, poets as well as rich history of theatre and visual arts.

At Writing on the Wall, community is at the heart of everything we do. Our projects are centred around uniting people and helping them to gain skills to better their lives.

Our Write to Work campaign gives unemployed learners the opportunity to develop and learn new creative skills. Between April 2018 and May 2019, 11,100 people in Liverpool were unemployed. Being unemployed can lead to a very isolated and lonely life – it has consistently been related to depression and other mental health illnesses. In fact, 2.3 million people with mental health conditions are on benefits or out of work. This can lead to unemployed people withdrawing themselves from their community. Our project helped learners to openly discuss their experiences and write about them. Learners left us feeling more confident and hopeful about what they could go on to achieve. As a result, 47% went on to find employment or pursued further education.

It’s not only unemployed people who are susceptible to becoming withdrawn. The hustle and bustle of working life is making people less sociable and is reducing social interaction. We are all guilty of quickly walking through a crowd with our head down, avoiding eye contact at all costs because we’ve had a stressful day at work and just want to get home. But if this is something we all have in common surely we should spend that commute home exchanging a knowing eye roll or stories of our horrible boss and incompetent co-workers. Our Write for Work project aimed to bring together those already in work and help them broaden their skills and progress in their careers. Currently around 55% of people in the UK are unsatisfied with their job so it is vital we give them the skills and knowledge to steer their career in the way they want. This is something they would not have achieved if they had kept themselves locked away.

All the projects we host end with an anthology of work produced by participants. It’s such a positive outcome for them. They start their journey with little or no writing experience and leave as published authors. Our book launches help people to discover these new writers and give us the opportunity to celebrate together.

In February this year, we held our City of Light, City of Sanctuary project. Writing on the Wall partnered with the Lantern Company to create a mesmerising floating city of light on Sefton park’s boating lake. The event was attended by thousands of people, who enjoyed listening to the soundscape compilation of people’s stories about the theme of home. The event involved writing workshops focusing on light, home, city and belonging. The best part of this project is that it was open to everyone. It was completely inclusive as arts should be. We engaged with and created a community with this project through a shared love of creativity. There is no better way to bring people together.

  Writing on the Wall gives authors the opportunity to share their stories and build their own community with their writing. We worked with Rose Thomas to publish her book ‘Bess’. The novel follows a young, black woman who is part of a new generation growing up in post-war Liverpool facing age-old racism amidst new opportunities for work, and personal, social and sexual exploration. Rose Thomas became the first ever Liverpool-born black woman to be published. Since publishing her book, she has read extracts at a variety of events with us including an event with Collegium for African American Research (CAAR) conference in Liverpool Hope University. Her novel has brought her closer to people who have had similar experiences or who want to learn more about hers. Her writing has allowed her to build her own community with people she may not ever thought of mixing with. This is the power of writing. 

 



Abbey Young




 
 

The Minister for Faith visits WoW

The Minister for Faith and Parliamentary Under Secretary of Wales paid a visit to Toxteth Library on Thursday to learn more about WoW's preparations for their Windrush Day grant-funded project: From SS Orbita to Orbital.  The meeting was also attended by friends of WoW: Rose Thomas, Levi Tafari, Ray Quarless and Addae Gaskin. The project will be formally launched at a Windrush Legacy Day on 29 June and commence on 1 August. Keep your eyes peeled for more news...

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