States of Independence 2016 - Saturday 12 March


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

Clephan Building, De Montfort University, Oxford Street, Leicester LE1 5XY

Workshops | Readings | Panels | Seminars | Book launches

Bookstalls | Independent presses | Regional writers

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


The seventh States of Independence will take place on Saturday 12 March 2016 at Clephan Building, De Montfort University, Leicester.

The 2016 programme is further down this webpage. Events will include talks on Victorian women writers, independent publishing, Nordic crime, the 1916 Easter Uprising, women in graphic fiction, David Bowie, the Vikings, and the announcement of the 2016 East Midlands Book Award shortlist.

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

About | Information | Programme | Stallholders | 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 seventh, and we present our biggest programme yet and, probably, more bookstalls than ever before. 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 thirty or so bookstalls to see what the independent sector is publishing.

As always there are poetry and fiction readings and industry panels discussing current hot topics. Our non-fiction this year wanders from music (The Pogues and David Bowie) to Ireland in 1916, from comics to Jeremy Corbyn and from the Vikings to Victorian writers. You can also try your hand at letterpress printing.

Cleeve Press will be demonstrating letterpress printing throughout the day, and there will be an opportunity to make your own cards, invites and get your hands inky!

States of Independence is a free event, underwritten by Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham and the Centre for Creative Writing at De Montfort Universities, 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 Publications 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, with further displays on floors one and two

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 fairtrade cafe four or five minutes from the main site – The Coffee Lab on the Gateway - look out for posters – selling light refreshments, excellent cakes and light lunches.

For further information please contact, 0115 837 3097

2016 Programme

Please note, these times are subject to confirmation. This website will be updated if necessary and a full printed programme will be available on the day.

11.00 - 11.45am
The Scandalous Health of Shane Macgowan, with Graham Caveney
Fairytale of New York is what the Pogues and Macgowan are best known for... but what does the combination of great talent and self-destructiveness say about the mind and body of this representative of the Irish in Britain? An illustrated talk.
Poetry from Deborah Tyler-Bennett and Andy Green
... and a few short stories from Deborah too, about music hall days in Brighton and elsewhere. Her new poetry collection is Napoleon Solo Biscuits while Andy Green is launching his debut collection, These Notes Are Out of Order. What both writers share is the ability to find material "in the archives", literally in Andy's case as he was an archivist at Birmingham Central Library, the source of these poems (and photographs).
WH Davies: the time traveller, with Rory Waterman
Davies is the best-known of the "tramp poets" and author of The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp. He lived from 1871 to 1940, wandered round Britain and America and became a considerable literary success with his poetry, memoirs and other material. Rory Waterman brings his work back to public attention.
Writers doing it themselves, with Nicola Monaghan/Niki Valentine
Nicola - who publishes under both these names - has been published by major publishers but has self-published her latest work - The Troll - in a set of three novellas, both as e-books and as a combined print volume. Here she will discuss self-publishing with other writers taking that route.
12.00 - 12.45pm
Sex in the City: Margaret Harkness and Late-Victorian London, with Deborah Mutch
Margaret Harkness, who published under the pseudonym John Law, may have fallen out of literary sight but her work provoked one of the most famous letters of all time, as Friedrich Engels' thank-you note for the copy of her first novel, A City Girl (1888), set out his thoughts on the genre of socialist realism. This talk will consider Harkness's use of London spaces as part of her promotion of socialism through fiction. By focusing on the locations of the romantic encounters in Harkness's first and last social problem novels - A City Girl and the unfinished Connie (1893-94) - we will consider her use of nature, the urban landscape and the importance of socialist change.
Science Fiction publishing, with Andrew Bannister, David Wilkinson, Steve Turnbull, and Rod Duncan in the chair
Andrew Bannister, who has been signed up by Transworld and whose first novel The Creation Machine comes out in May. David Wilkinson, whose first novel We Bleed the Same was published by Inspired Quill, Rod Duncan, crime writer turned Steampunk writer with Angry Robot. Steve Turnbull publishes under the Tau Press imprint. So there we have it, a multinational, a big specialist, a community publisher and self-publisher... what does it mean for writers. Compare and contrast...
Over Land, Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge
This crowd-sourced and crowd-funded book, with contributors from the East Midlands, nationally and internationally has become a major success, leading to readings all over the East Midlands, in London and in Scotland. Poetry makes things happen... not least in raising £3,000 for refugee charities. At the end of this reading we will present a cheque for £1000 to Leicester - City of Sanctuary. Editors and contributors will be presenting their own and others' poems from the book.
The Page Is White? The publishing industry and Black and Asian writers, with Farhana Shaikh and others
After a short period of grace, it appears that Black and Asian writers are struggling, more than most, to be published and promoted, or are confined to writing in stereotypical ways. How has this happened, and how can this be changed? Farhana Shaikh runs Leicester Writing Events, Dahlia Publishing and edits The Asian Writer.
50 is the new... 50, with Pippa Hennessy, Wayne Burrows and EMBA award-winner D.A. Prince
Since States of Independence started, Pippa Hennessy has produced the website, the programme and all the publicity material. She provides part of the general staff at Five Leaves, Nottingham Writers Studio and, with others, wrote the bid for Nottingham becoming a City of Literature. For her fiftieth birthday we're taking her out the boiler-room of literature and putting her on the stage to read her own, excellent, poetry, with some special guests. In another fifty years we'll do it again.
1.00 - 1.45pm
Anglo Saxons and Vikings; Cousins at War, with Marianne Whiting
A personal view of Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Alfred the Great and all that which plays fast and loose with some cherished myths of that era. Marianne is the author of Shieldmaiden.
The Hogarth Press and Virginia Woolf, with Alice Wood
Virginia Woolf set up The Hogarth Press with her husband Leonard, initially as a "kitchen table" press before going on to publish 400 books, including Sigmund Freud. Due to Virginia's long association with the Co-operative Women's Guild she also published autobiographical sketches of working-class women. This talk will also remind us of forgotten local writers including Joan Adeney Easdale.
The Great Deception, with David Belbin
David Belbin will read from his gritty, urban crime novel where Westminster, undercover police and the drugs scene collide in that holy trinity of UK politics: corruption, conspiracy and cocaine. This session will also cover some discussion of the state of current crime writing.
Soundswrite Press, celebrating ten years
Soundswrite Press is a small independent Leicester-based poetry publisher, established in 2005. Today we will be celebrating publication of our latest poetry anthology, featuring women poets from around the East Midlands and beyond. Come and be entertained!
Corbyn's Campaign, with a bunch (a phalanx?) of Corbynistas
Corbyn's Campaign tells the story of Jeremy Corbyn's victory in becoming the leader of the Labour Party. This presentation reveals how the campaign was won, discusses the current state of play and how the "new politics" is likely to unfold.
Shearsman reading, featuring Simon Perril
Tony Frazer will give a preview of Shearsman's latest poetry titles before introducing DMU's Simon Perrill, who will give the first reading from his new collection Beneath. "Beneath" here refers to the Greek underworld, Hades. We'll also show a video which goes with the poems.
2.00 - 2.45pm
Oystercatcher poetry reading, with Nancy Gaffield and Robert Sheppard
Robert Sheppard will be launching his powerful & moving sequence The Drop, a tribute to his late father, described by James Byrne as a 'brilliant & vivid elegy'. Nancy Gaffield's Meridian ('a very strong & engaging sequence', Peter Riley) is an unusually beautiful & intelligent meditation on direction - how we find it, how we map it, how it is embodied.
The benefits of independent publishing - how to get published by an indie publisher, how to operate as an indie (not-for-profit) publisher with Teika Bellamy and Sara-Jayne Slack
Self vs. mainstream publishing is one of the biggest decisions a writer can make – but did you know that there’s a third way that offers some of the benefits of each? This session will introduce you to the option of “independent publishing”, a world of small presses, authors-as-publishers, and co-operative efforts. Come along and see if this way, thriving in the age of the internet, is for you. The panel will provide information on the many such presses based in the UK and give tips on how best to communicate with their editors and get a foot in the door. Teika runs Mother's Milk and Sara-Jayne runs Inspired Quill. The publishers will also be joined by a couple of their writers to give their perspective.
Myth-making around Easter 1916, with Deirdre O'Byrne
“It wasn't like 1916 in 1916” (Bernard Mac Laverty, Cal). The 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin was a mis-managed molehill that became mythologised into a mountain. Deirdre O'Byrne of Loughborough University traces the development of this myth-making process in song, stories, drama and poetry, from 1916 onwards. No previous knowledge needed. All welcome.
David Bowie, fame, sound and vision, with Nick Stevenson
The story of David Bowie involves questions of commodification, youth culture, history, racism, gender and sexual politics. And music and imagery. Nick Stevenson explores celebrity culture through a detailed exploration of the life of the recently-deceased Bowie.
Demon Crew reading
Pandemonium is promised by the angels and demons masquerading as students at DMU's Leicester Centre for Creative Writing
More Raw Material
Prose and poetry readings from this anthology of work inspired by Alan Sillitoe, edited by Neil Fulwood and David Sillitoe and published by Lucifer Press. Readers are Maria Taylor, Robert Kenchington, Harry Paterson and Martin Figura.
3.00 - 3.45pm
East Midlands Book Awards
It’s been a busy and successful year for many authors from the East Midlands. Come to this session to hear the official announcement of the shortlist for this year’s award and hear readings from some of the shortlisted books. A decision will be made just before States of Independence, so we'll try to get as many shortlisted writers along as possible!
What d'you mean there's no women in comics? with Selina Lock and Jay Eales
Though often overlooked for awards and as panelists at conventions, there are women in every stratum of the comics industry. At this illustrated talk we will highlight a range of work by women creators within the UK and beyond, drawing on all sorts of subjects and genres. If you don't think you know of any women in comics then you're not looking in the right places...
Lifeline, heartline, lesbian and gay poetry with Candlestick Press and Gregory Woods
Candlestick Press will be launching their new collection of LGBT poetry, which features modern writers such as Carol Ann Duffy and Thom Gunn and writers from the past such as Cavafy and Sappho. They will be joined by Gregory Woods reading from his chapbook Art in Heaven.
The history of crime fiction with John Martin, and Sheelagh Gallagher on Nordic crime fiction
In this talk, Leicester's law-abiding crime connoisseur, and author of Crime Scene UK, starts with Sherlock Holmes and brings us up to date, following the highways and byways of crime fiction, its own genres, tropes and culture. This session concludes with Sheelagh Gallagher recommending some of the best Scandi crime on the market.
Re-discovering Victorian Women Writers, with Rowena Edlin-White
We conclude one of the strands of the day by introducing three forgotten authors who deserve to be put back on record - Mary Howitt (1799-1888), Eliza Oldham (1822-1905) and Annie Matheson (1853-1924). Rowena will also discuss her research methods in tracing the life and work of fugitive figures.