States of Independence 2018 - Saturday 10 March


Free of charge | 10.30am - 4.30pm | Open to all

Clephan Building, De Montfort University, Oxford Street (entrance on Bonners Lane), Leicester LE1 5XY

Workshops | Readings | Panels | Seminars | Book launches

Bookstalls | Independent presses | Regional writers

Fiction | Non-fiction | Poetry | Plays | Artist books | Magazines | Journals


The ninth States of Independence will take place on Saturday 10 March 2018 at Clephan Building, De Montfort University, Leicester.

The full 2018 programme will be published here when it has been finalised. In the meantime, events booked so far are listed below.

States also includes a free bookfair representing dozens of publishers from the region and beyond.

About | Information | Organisers


About States of Independence

Independent publishing | Independent writing | Independent thinking

A book festival in a day

This year's States of Independence is our ninth. It's a book festival in a day, a marketplace, a conference, a chance to relax and listen to some readings, an opportunity to argue about issues in the industry and to meet with independent presses from across the region.

States of Independence supports independent thinking, independent writing and independent presses. Join us for the day or an hour. Attend lots of events - you will be spoiled for choice - or just one, or simply come along and browse through the twenty or so bookstalls to see what the independent sector is publishing.

As always there will be poetry and fiction readings and industry panels discussing current hot topics

States of Independence is a free event, underwritten by Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham and the Centre for Creative Writing at De Montfort University, with the support of over fifty writers and over thirty presses.

All sessions are free, no tickets required.
Just turn up and stay for an hour or two, or the whole day.

States of Independence is organised and funded by Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham and the Creative Writing Team at De Montfort University, Leicester.


The Book Fair and all readings take place in the Clephan Building, Oxford Street (entrance on Bonners Lane), Leicester LE1 5XY

Public transport and car parking information on the De Montfort University website. Clephan Building is five minutes from Leicester city centre and fifteen minutes from the train station. On-site parking is only available for stall holders and speakers, sorry.

All events are free, no tickets required

Bookstalls are on the ground floor

Events take place on second and third floors - there are lifts. Please allow ten minutes to get to the correct room

There will be an information point as you come in to Clephan Building

All rooms are accessible. Please get in touch if you have any special access requirements

Catering: Clephan Building is very close to the city centre, cafes, shops and pubs. We can only provide vending machines on site. There is a cafe four or five minutes from the main site - look out for posters – selling light refreshments, excellent cakes and light lunches.

For further information please contact, 0115 837 3097

2018 Programme

We'll add events as they are confirmed, and times will be published once the full programme is complete.

Ursula Le Guin
... died last month. One of the most influential writers in the world of science fiction, for adults and children. Her books include the Earthsea series and The Dispossessed. She was also an essayist and political writer.
"It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end."
In this session, Kathy Bell (poet) and Andy Hedgecock (former editor of Interzone) will discuss Le Guin's work and influence.
Brand New Beat, with Deborah Tyler-Bennett
Brand New Beat, set in the 1960s, tells the story of two variety comedians, Courtney Cooper and Billy Bean, who have made it big on television - Just as the halls are closing or adapting, and most acts are finding it hard to make a living. The book contrasts variety with the world of Nathan and Ava Costain, music promoters, whose American pop tour of England (the Brand New Beat of the title) suggests a new type of entertainment. The East Midlands features heavily in the book, as Billy's family in Mansfield also find themselves struggling with clashes between old ideals and new horizons.
Writing seriously about humour, with Rob Palk
Rob Palk's first novel has recently been published by Sandstone. It's a novel about love won, love lost as Marie leaves Stuart to hang round woods in Gloucestershire to protect badgers from being culled. As much as Stuart feigns interest in badgers to win her back, there's another protester she has her eye on. In this session, Rob will read from his book and discuss writing humorous fiction. You gotta laugh, no?
Reading and discussing Helen Dunmore's Inside the Wave
As you push back my hair / – Which could do with a comb / But never mind – / You murmur / ‘We’re nearly there.’
Join Nottingham Stanza poetry reading group in discussing the winner of this year's Costa book award by the late Helen Dunmore. It's better if you have read the collection, but not essential as the poems being discussed will be read out. And yes - you are encouraged to join in the dicussion. Inside the Wave was published shortly after the author's death and included her last poem, sampled above.
Going Down Slow, with John Harvey
John Harvey is one of Britain's leading crime writers - the sort whose books get advertised in railway stations! - but he is also an aficionado of the small and independent press world having once run Slow Dancer Press. At this session he will be reading from his Arrow crime novels, his Five Leaves' collection of short stories and his Smith/Doorstep collection of poetry.
The Shoestring reading with Miriam Nieger-Fleischmann and Cliff Forshaw
Miriam Nieger-Fleischmann has been writing poems for thirty years, in Hebrew, a selection, Death of the King, has recently been published in English, translated by Tony Rudolph. Cliff Forshaw is a poet and painter whose recent collection, Satyr, brings back an Elizabethan Malcontent Satyrist to appraise the contemporary world.
Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy Panel, chaired by Dr Teika Bellamy
Although there are many successful women authors in the science fiction genre today, it is still very much a genre dominated by men. Join Teika Bellamy, the founder of Mother’s Milk Books and the editor of the popular series The Forgotten and the Fantastical, alongside Penny Reeve of Angry Robot Books, Jeannette Ng, novelist, and Ileandra Young, fantasy and thriller author, to discuss the current state of the genre with regards to women authors.
We've all read Scandi noir, but what about Baltic crime? Lithuanian detective fiction, with Noir Press
Lithuanian translator Rasa Drazdauskaite wrote that Lithuanians cannot write successful detective novels as they do not believe in the possibility of justice. So what does Lithuanian crime fiction look like? By turns dark, hilarious and wonderfully inventive, Renata Serelyte's provincial detective attempts to solve the murder of a teenage girl. But who is the secret admirer sending her poisonous plants? What does her old music teacher have to do with this? And where is the brandy? The Music Teacher by Renata Serelyte will be introduced by Stephan Collishaw from Noir Press, which specialises in translations from the Baltic countries.
Twitter for a Lark, with Robert Sheppard and others
and Simon Perril launches In the Final Year of my Forties (on his birthday!)
This is the poetry equivalent of ventriloquy! Robert Sheppard and other real poets (or so they claim) have invented 28 poets from across Europe to explore the richness of the continent we are likely to be leaving. The work ranges from comedic to political, from traditional to experimental. Complete with biographical notes which allow these poets to really possess lives of their own.
Simon Perril is a poet and visual collagist, and part of the Creative Writing team at De Montfort. He has published several collections with Shearsman. We are humouring him by allowing him a special 50th birthday launch, but he'd better bring his own cake.
Let me tell you a story, with Will Buckingham
"Lucy loves space. She loves to gaze up at the stars and bask in space’s bigness and its here, there, and everywhereness. She loves it so much that she built a rocket ship in her backyard, hoping that one day she can use it to explore space herself. The ship is just Prototype I, though, so it’s not ready to carry anyone into orbit yet. Or so she thinks. Laika doesn’t give much thought to space—she is a dog, after all." In this session, sit back and relax while Will Buckingham reads you stories - of Lucy and the Rocket Dog and The Snorgh and the Sailor - and then discusses writing books for children.
Vikings in the East Midlands, an illustrated talk by Rebecca Gregory
The East Midlands was part of the Danelaw, a part of England that was under Viking rule during the Viking Age, approximately 1,000 years ago. Its major towns and cities were Viking centres and the Vikings may still be seen in place-names such as Linby from Old Norse lind ‘lime-tree’ and by ‘farmstead, village’, and local dialect words such as ‘scratin’ for ‘crying.’ Leicester was one of the five East Midlands boroughs of the Danelaw. Place-names show the extent of Danish-occupied Leicestershire with 56 villages ending with –by, half of which contain a Danish personal name as their other element. Rebecca is the author of Viking Nottinghamshire.
Black British Graduates: untold stories, with Amanda Arbouin
Ten British graduates of African-Caribbean heritage review their school and post-school education and their careers. They relate how they navigated the obstructions (and micoraggressions) encountered while pursuing academic qualifications and discuss their choices of employment. This session will be of particular value to Black graduates and undergraduates, and those responsible for teaching. Amanda Arbouin is Senior Lecturer in Education Studies at the Nottingham Institute for Education.
Pam Thompson, reading from Strange Fashion
Pam Thompson’s second collection bursts with strangers and intimates, these poems travel the world and history from the Belfast Troubles to slave smuggling in Illinois, from out-of-season Alicante to a croft in the Scottish Highlands. They take us into the worlds of artists via the imagined lives of assistant to Louis Daguerre or Georgia O’Keeffe, and sail to the fantastical: witness Emily Bronte and Emily Dickinson hunting for antiques in Church Stretton. Sit back and enjoy the ride.
Laura Riding, with Mark Jacobs
Laura Riding was a big influence on Robert Graves, WH Auden, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. In this talk Mark Jacobs introduces her work, including her recently republished The Close Chaplet, first publshed in 1926 by Leonard and Virginia Woolf's Hogarth Press when Riding was 25.
Poetry from Tim Youngs and Lila Matsumoto
Tim Youngs' first pamphlet, Touching Distance, has just been published. Its poems travel from Bucharest to the South Downs via India and France, and from The Great War to the present day and beyond. Lila Matsumoto has just published her first collection, Urn & Drum. "The world within Urn & Drum is a cornucopia of shapes, colours, and objects, fashioned almost as a gleeful, surreal picture-book..."
What are editors looking for? with Farhana Shaikh
With real life examples of good and bad submissions received at Dahlia Publishing, this session will offer an insight into the role of an editor, how we assess manuscripts and what we are looking for from new writing. You will leave with a better understanding of the publishing process and top tips on how to submit to a small press publisher.
Tricks of the Light - the making of a fairy story, with Rod Duncan
Novelist Rod Duncan explores three overlapping landscapes: myth, mind and woodlands of Northwest Leicestershire. He charts his writing of the story Tricks of the Light, investigating the creative process. Part storytelling, part essay, part book launch, this session will include some adult themes.
Demon Crew
The annual States of Independence reading by students of creative writing at De Montfort. All human life is here. And a few other life forms while we're about it.
Birds Without Sky, poetry from Malka Al-Haddad
Malka is a refugee from Iraq, living in Leicester. Her poetry appeared in Over Land, Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge. Birds Without Sky is her first collection. She will be reading in English, with a little Arabic.
Finding a character to write about, with Jane Adams
Crime novelist Jane Adams talks about two of her unlikely protagonists - Rina Martin, an elderly thespian who played a TV detective and now runs a boarding house for other ex-performers, and Naomi Blake, a blind detective with a big black guide dog called Napoleon. Where did these characters come from? And how did Jane turn them into the central characters of two bestselling detective series?
New Irish Writers, with Deirdre O'Byrne
Sally Rooney's Conversations with Friends was the book other publishers said they wished they had published. Eimear McBride won the Goldsmiths Award for her experimental fiction. Then there's the short story writer Claire Keegan and the novelist Sara Baume, all making waves. Deirdre will introduce you to a new generation of Irish writers and give out samples of their writing to discuss.