dialect /ˈdʌɪəlɛkt/ noun 1. a particular form of a language which is peculiar to a specific region or social group.
“the Gloucestershire dialect seemed like a foreign language”
There’s long been a big gap to fall through for writers living on the margins and Dialect hopes to close it. Dialect will do this by providing exciting, great quality learning, sharing and publication opportunities to writers in rural areas. Dialect is all about writers and work that speaks from the edges of things, outside mainstream literary culture. We celebrate the remote and the pastoral, the mountains and hills, the woods and the wilderness, the coasts and waterways, but also the small town and its suburbs, the retail parks, verges, dual carriageways, wastelands, lay-bys, scrapyards, agricultural spaces, derelict mills, industrial estates, motorway services, recycling centres, the spaces and voices in between.
I was meant to be an academic by trade, graduating twenty years ago with a PhD from Sussex tracing the history of white women’s writing, gender and race in Caribbean literature. I taught for a while – postcolonial studies and critical theory mainly – but it didn’t take me long to realise I needed to leave the academy and explore the world. A stint in China set me on a journey working in social justice and humanitarian aid work and a life on the road: Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Cambodia. At first I sent letters home, scores of them, telling the stories of the places I’d been and the people I’d met until slowly those letters morphed into actual stories, poems with a semblance of structure and purpose. On one visit back home I graffitied love skits all over a city seafront that I’d written while yearning for someone thousands of miles away. If nothing else, years living and working in extremely poor or crisis-hit environments crystallises the mind.
When I eventually settled in the UK, I did a Creative Writing MA at Goldsmiths and sought out every single opportunity to meet practicing writers, hear them speak, learn from them on courses, workshops, residentials. On returning home to Gloucestershire to start a family I was struck by how little there was available for writers who wanted to apprentice themselves to the craft. That was when I knew I wanted to start Dialect.
Based in the South West of England, Dialect is a brand new writer development platform open to all writers living in rural, small town and/or remote areas who can’t access the same opportunities as their urban peers. To launch the initiative this summer, we are offering some online taster workshops in the craft of writing throughout August.
Our reasonably priced, online taster workshops will be run by award-winning writers. Later in the year, we’ll be hosting regular writer’s groups and launching our membership scheme. These will include mentoring sessions, a critique group for experienced prose/poetry writers and exciting masterclasses from top flight authors, including poet and BAME historian Louisa Adjoa Parker and award-winning journalist Louise Tickle. Dialect will also be launching a podcast, inviting published writers to chat craft, industry and writing experience to connect our communities across the digital hinterlands. Dialect literary magazine will open for submissions in autumn/winter 2020, showcasing writers and work that speaks from the edges, beyond mainstream literary culture.
If you like the idea of Dialect but aren’t ready to commit to a workshop just yet, please consider buying us a coffee. All proceeds will go towards sponsoring workshop places for writers on low incomes.
The response to Dialect so far has been amazing. We can’t wait to meet our writers this summer, and hear their voices sing.
JLM Morton is a poet and hybrid writer interested in the interplay between language, sound, musicality and visual culture. Originally an academic by trade, Juliette studied at Goldsmiths, Sussex and Manchester Universities, graduating with MAs in literature and creative writing and a PhD exploring gender, whiteness/race, power and place.
Juliette’s work is widely published, she’s Poet in Residence throughout 2020 at Waterland (Cotswold Water Park). She’s been invited to read / forced her way into various poetry nights and festivals including Ledbury and Stroud’s Wool & Water and the Places of Poetry project made a beautiful film of her poem ‘Stroudwater Navigation.’