The ability to read and to write tends to be taken for granted in society and its benefits assumed rather than understood. Its importance for a well-educated workforce is taken for granted, and the beneficial role literature plays in promoting wellbeing, especially for those with mental health issues; in the development of children; in supporting those with dementia; in the lives of those with visual impairments; and in the cultivation of wider social and community cohesion is assumed and often only evaluated in isolated instances.
However to date, the positive impact of literature in society has not been fully evaluated and as such it is in danger of being overshadowed. English is no longer the most popular A level subject in England; libraries are closing; and it is increasingly difficult to make a living out of writing. We may live in an information age, but there is a very real danger, for the first time in living memory, that opportunities to access and practice literary art will diminish. A shrinking literature sector will not only see our literature students graduating into a society that isn’t able to meet their ambitions but also one that is infinitely impoverished for all our graduates.
Building on the foundations of a strong literature offer - through our teaching, research excellence, public arts programme and extensive activity across Plymouth University and the city - we will establish the Plymouth Literature Project (PLP) in partnership with Literature Works to position Plymouth as a leading dynamic hub for creativity and sector sustainability.
The PLP will be the framework through which all the University’s literature activity, opportunities and associated support can be harnessed, galvanised and under which achievements can be celebrated.
It will embrace cross-disciplinary working with other areas of expertise such as health, medicine and the sciences, and it will combine research activities with opportunities for students, graduates, partners and the community.
Through the PLP we will also undertake an impact methodology exercise to establish an evidence base for literature investment. We will establish funding for studentships, bursaries and internships and inspire the younger generation through the establishment of the Plymouth Literature Prize.
This project has the potential to provide an evidence base which can influence future government policy in favour of funding literature, directly responding to the government’s growth strategy and requirements around the creative industries’ contribution to the UK economy.
It will enhance the cultural significance of literature for young people, whilst promoting opportunities around employability in writing and publishing professions, teaching and creative industries.
In harnessing expertise and growing the profile of literature, the project has the potential to impress and attract eminent staff and partners, and position Plymouth as a first choice destination for studying literature. It will further enrich this environment by underpinning educational excellence with support and delivering a mechanism by which to increase work experience and continuing professional development opportunities.
The partnership between the University, with its dedicated department and access to cross-disciplinary working and expertise, and Literature Works, the only literature development agency in the South West and the only grant awarding body in the sector, presents a unique value proposition for Plymouth.
The literature profile of Plymouth University’s staff base, University of Plymouth Press and activity including the Plymouth International Book Festival, Port Eliot Festival and an extended partner network which includes Plymouth Storytelling Group, provides an incredibly strong foundation from which to thrive.
Finally the University is in a position to draw on areas of expertise not only across the social but also the environmental and marine sciences to realise ambitions around sector sustainability and growth, and to advocate, in a multi-disciplinary context, the importance of the literary across all walks of society.
National Memory Day
Celebrating the power of poetry and creative writing to improve the lives of those affected by memory loss
The potential for creative writing and poetry to empower those affected by memory loss is celebrated by National Memory Day, a project led by Literature Works, in partnership with English and Creative Writing at Plymouth University (part of the Plymouth Literature Project), Alzheimer’s Society and The Poetry Archive.
The project is raising funds to provide a programme of workshops in the Alzheimer’s Society Memory Café initiative around the UK, which explore memories through the recital and recollection of poetry. Money raised will also underpin medical research into dementia therapies and in search of a cure.
For more information about the project and to donate, please visit the National Memory Day website.
National Memory Day Creative Writing Competition - Win up to £4,000
An open call for creative writing submissions.
Submissions are welcomed in the form of poetry, short stories or free-form writing on the theme of Memories. Entries are welcome from people of all ages and abilities and your entry will be judged by leading poets and writers along with a panel of young people. Prizes include Best Poem, Best Short Story, Plymouth University Best Young Writer (15-18) and Primary Carer Voice.
The winners will be announced on the first National Memory Day on 18 May 2017.
For more information and to enter, visit the official National Memory Day website.