Saturday, 18 September 2010

Spoken/Written Bulletin S.W. - A Crossroads

I've said this before, but it was really hard to put together Edition 50 (although on the plus side, I always hoped Spoken/Written would make it to 50 editions). A testament to how hard it was, was how late it was. Mid way through the month, not just before it began. Still, it's done and been sent off. There really was no time before, and this week is the first time I've had longer than half an hour at the computer, i.e. was back at base.
It's a tough one. One of the inferences of recent conversations I've had is that no funding body wanted to duplicate services. And Cyprus Well was either going to be interested in taking Spoken/Written under its wing or not...turns out it wasn't. They have a blog and a calendar and these it seems may be intended to 'replace' Spoken/Written, as they have replaced the Literature S.W. website. They want to build a 'community' of S.W. writers/words folk, and so you can upload your news and events...rather than send them to something like Spoken/Written. Cyprus Well's brief then, seems to be that of a 'one stop shop'. But (thinks Spoken/Written) wasn't that meant to be what Literature S.W. was? and they still had Spoken/Written as their official bulletin. And there was always stuff they didn't cover on ArtsMatrix (never mind the myriad of other sources from global to national to local). Also - does that mean Literature Training is redundant for S.West words people? I doubt it! It's one of the country's key resources. And as for specialist stuff - well, it's early days for the Cyprus Well blog, but there's news that KEAP (Kernow Education Arts Partnership) has featured that it hasn't. There are it seems, too many artists, too much going on in an area the size of Denmark, and the scene is too fragmented for one single body to ever encompass, manage and cater for all of it. And what about the specialists like Critical Network or formerly The Place? None of this stuff has yet featured in a Cyprus Well newsflash.
What Spoken/Written offers is a convenient - I hope - digest, of global, national and local opportunities that are out there from the vast web and numerous newsletters, which could be of use to poets, writers and others in the S.West.
Moreover, what big organizations like Apples and Snakes, Cyprus Well, etc. feature are things that other - usually organizations - send them, or that they hear about in meetings. What Spoken/Written offers is original research. I.e., the reason you got turned down by the new S.West zine starting up was because it was featured on all the usual websites...the reason you got published in that cool Canadian zine was because Spoken/Written told you about it and you were one of only a handful of UK writers submitting, and they wanted a dash of get the picture? In a tough market with hundreds of writers fighting to gain any single space from any one of the dazzling array but still finite number of quality zines, anything that gives you information that everyone else doesn't have, is important. It's like the fact that it's only logical (if you actually want to win one, and weren't 'born lucky') that to win a competition, your chances are much better if you enter a lesser known one. And if you're a struggling writer, a free one at that. Spoken/Written looks at things from the artist's point of view. Whether you're a poet, performance poet, writer, novelist, storyteller, text artist, spoken word performer, short story writer, editor, zine editor, proof reader, writing tutor, writing scholar - because Spoken/Written's Editor has been or is still all of these things, so Spoken/Written has been there, got the badges, the t-shirts, the tattoos and the scars, and works for you with - the intention has always been - all the critical wariness and thoroughness that you would put in for yourself, if you had the time.

Hence I believe Spoken/Written still to be unique and to provide a service that no other regional service quite does. Believe indeed that it does or did deserve to be funded. And it certainly earns every penny of the subscriptions and donations that it has received. Please do donate at the link to the right, or e-mail thoughts you may have about the future of Spoken/Written or its value to; .

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