States of Independence 2017 - Saturday 11 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 eighth States of Independence will take place on Saturday 11 March 2017 at Clephan Building, De Montfort University, Leicester.

The 2017 programme is further down this webpage. Events will include talks on producing independent literary magazines, radical bookselling, being gay in the 80s, the British administration of Palestine, the political power of music, and readings from David Morley, Henry Normal, Deborah Tyler Bennett, Graham Caveney, Mahsuda Snaith, Marilyn Ricci, Maxine Linnell, alongside book launches and discussions about all things book-related.

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 eighth. 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 are poetry and fiction readings and industry panels discussing current hot topics - this year focusing on independent literary magazines. Non-fiction wanders from British Palestine to John Clare's escape from an asylum, via the political power of music, reminiscences about being gay in the 80s, and how to talk about poetry

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 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

2017 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
How to Edit a Literary Magazine, with Jane Commane
This session is the fist of three linked, but stand-alone practical sessions for those active, or who would like to be active, in the world of small magazines. You don't have to attend all the sessions. The session will be led by current magazine editor Jane Commaine from Nine Arches Press/Under the Radar.
Poetry and Fiction from Deborah Tyler-Bennett
Deborah will be reading from her forthcoming collection of short stories set in the 1960s, Brand New Beat, the era the world changed, music swept the nation and sexual intercourse was invented (according to Larkin), and from her poetry collection Mr Bowley Regrets, which also features pop culture and the clash of the new beat and an older world.
A Short History of Radical Bookselling, with Ross Bradshaw
It's unlikely anyone can remember H Packer in New Park in the 1940s but lots of people remember Black Flag, Blackthorn, Raddle and Frontline, radical bookshops from Leicester's past. Ross tells the story of radical bookselling nationally, the good bits and the bad bits, the glory days, the police raids...
Summer book preview, with Graham Caveney and Mahsuda Snaith
At this event you can get a preview of two of this summer's big books by East Midlands writers.
In The Boy with the Perpetual Nervousness (gold star if you remember the song lyric) Graham describes growing up as a member of the 'Respectable Working Class'. From altar boy to Kafka-quoting adolescent, his is the story of a teenager's obsession with music and books, and how he used them to plot his way out of his home town. But this is also a story of abuse.
Mahsuda's Things We Thought We Knew is set in Leicester. It features Ravine and Marianne, once best friends as children whose lives were shattered when Marianne disappears. Ten years on, chronically ill, Ravine descides to write down all that she could remember of her past, including things she would prefer to forget. Mahsuda was featured as one of the year's new writers to look out for.
12.00 - 12.45pm
Gay in the 80s, with Colin Clews
Colin came out when he was a student at De Montfort. In the 80s, mostly living in Nottingham, he was involved in Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, Nottingham's early response to HIV/AIDS and edited Gem - Gay East Midlands. He has now written about that period, the good and bad sides of gay life thirty years ago.
How to Submit to a Literary Magazine, with Maria Taylor
Many people have their first short story or poem or non-fiction piece published in literary magazines. But they have their own ways of doing things. This session will help you understand what editors are looking for and what puts them off! Maria Taylor has been widely published in the small press world and has worked as a magazine editor. Her first collection, Melanchrini (Nine Arches Press), was shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize. Her most recent pamphlet Instructions for Making Me was published in 2016 by HappenStance Press.
Soundswrite Press Poetry Reading with Marilyn Ricci and Maxine Linnell
Soundswrite Press launches two new poetry collections today: Night Rider by Marilyn Ricci and This Dust by Maxine Linnell. Both are Leicestershire poets and each collection has at its heart a powerful central sequence – Marilyn’s about how the print and hosiery industries were ingrained into her parents’ lives and Maxine’s about the life and sudden death of her son. Come along and hear them read.
The Gypsy and the Poet, reading and Q&A with David Morley
David Morley won The Ted Hughes Award last year for The Invisible Gift: Selected Poems. He will read from this and new work and take part in a Q&A.
The Balfour Declaration 1917 and how it affected British Palestine 1920-1948, with Margaret Penfold
The British Administration of Palestine, through the Balfour Declaration, promised a Jewish state... but they had also promises to recognise a Khalifate in previously Ottoman-controlled Arab lands. A recipe for chaos?
Margaret Penfold is the author of a trilogy of published novels set in the British Mandate of Palestine and has nearly completed an online history, Policing British Palestine.
1.00 - 1.45pm
Mantle Lane Press launch
Mantle Lane Press is a small independent publisher of limited edition books. These pocket-sized volumes feature original cover images by a range of visual artists, making them unique, collectable and ideal gifts. They also publish anthologies, factual and local history material and performance scripts. They’ll be launching three new titles under their Red Lighthouse imprint at States of Independence: Night Swimming by Garrie Fletcher, Kaleidoscope by Sarah Leavesley and A Far Cry by Mary Williams.
Shoestring Spectacular, with poets from Romania, America and Leicester
Mihaela Moscaliuc was born and raised in Romania, where most of her family still resides. She is the author of the poetry collections Immigrant Model (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015) and Father Dirt (Alice James Books, 2010).
The Sun Bathers, Roy Marshall's first full collection from Shoestring, quickly sold out. He lives in Leicestershire and currently works in adult education. Roy’s previous role as a coronary care nurse is revisited in his new collection The Great Animator, along with a wide variety of subjects and concerns, both global and local.
American poet Michael Waters has published numerous books, including Celestial Joyride (2017) and Selected Poems (2011) from Shoestring Press. He has co-edited Contemporary American Poetry (Houghton Mifflin, 2006) and Perfect in Their Art: Poems on Boxing from Homer to Ali (Southern Illinois UP, 2003).
Lithuanian Fiction, with Stephan Collishaw
Stephan Collishaw - a novelist whose work is mostly set in Eastern Europe - has set up Noir Press to translate contemporary Lithuanian fiction. Noir's first book is Breathing into Marble by Laura Sintija Černiauskaitė, which won the European Union Prize for literature in 2009. It is a dark, poetic tale of love and violence, of art and relationships. Stephan will also talk about East European literature and translation itself.
The Russian Revolution, 100 years on, with Neil Faulkner
The Russian Revolution may well be the most misunderstood event in modern history. In his A People’s History of the Russian Revolution, Neil Faulkner sets out to debunk the myths. In this fast-paced introduction to the tumultuous events, the Russian people are the heroes. Faulkner shows how a mass movement, organised in democratic assemblies, destroyed a regime of landlords, profiteers and warmongers. He rejects caricatures of Lenin and the Bolsheviks as authoritarian conspirators or the progenitors of Stalinist dictatorship. He argues that the Russian Revolution was an explosion of democracy and creativity – and that it was crushed by bloody counter-revolution and replaced with a monstrous form of bureaucratic state-capitalism.
Oliver Cromwell At War: The Lord General and his Military Revolution, with Professor Martyn Bennett
Oliver Cromwell cut his teeth in the Midlands. From being a East Anglian farmer, at 43 Cromwell undertook a spectacular career change. Within 18 months of becoming a soldier he had risen to the rank of lieutenant general: from having a couple of horses in his stable he rose to command 3,000 men and their mounts on the battlefield. Cromwell learned his trade in the Midlands, developing tactical and strategic skills within months. The forthcoming book, Oliver Cromwell at War, explores how this small-scale farmer become Britain's greatest soldier, and in this session Martyn Bennett reveals how the Midlands was the battleground on which he learned his trade and why he wished 'Leicester were not'.
2.00 - 2.45pm
I Had It In Me, a memoir: Leonie Orton in discussion with her editor, Marilyn Ricci
Leonie Orton, youngest sister of the playwright Joe Orton, will read from her powerful, funny and moving memoir published by Leicester-based Quirky Press. She brilliantly evokes growing up on the same Leicester council estate as Joe in the 1940s and 1950s, her fight to educate herself, nurture her brother’s legacy and become her own woman.
Sound System: the political power of music, with Dave Randall
From underground grime artists to pop icons, many have believed in the political power of music to unsettle the most fundamental political and social conventions, or prop up the status quo. Sound System is the story of one musician’s journey to discover what makes music so powerful. Years of touring, playing and protesting have given Dave Randall an insider’s view of the music industry. This is a talk about raves, riots and revolution. From the Glastonbury Festival to the Arab Spring, Pop Idol to Trinidadian Carnival, Randall finds political inspiration across the musical spectrum and poses the question: how can we make music serve the interest of the many, rather than the few? He is a former guitarist in Faithless and has toured the world playing guitar with Dido, Sinead O’Connor and many others.
How to Talk About Poetry, with Nottingham STANZA
We all know what we like, but how do we discuss poetry we've read? Nottingham STANZA has been doing this monthly for years. Today we'll have a public discussion about one new, popular poetry book, initially started by STANZA members before opening out the discussion. They will be discussing Jacob Polley's Jackself (Picador), winner of the TS Eliot Prize this year. Reading the collection in advance is useful but not essential!
Betting on Gambledad: writing, publishing and selling a novel for children, with Josephine Feeney
For several years Josephine Feeney worked as a teacher, before becoming a children's author. She writes novels, short stories and plays. In this session she discusses her experiences of writing for children - from idea to the printed page and beyond.
Demon Crew reading
Pandemonium is promised by the angels and demons masquerading as students at DMU's Leicester Centre for Creative Writing
3.00 - 3.45pm
Staring Directly at the Eclipse, with Henry Normal
"...succinct, heartrending and peppered with gentle punchlines" The Guardian
"The Alan Bennett of poetry" The Scotsman
Better known as co-writer of award-winning TV and film shows such as The Royle Family, The Mrs Merton Show, and Paul Calf, and producer of Oscar-nominated Philomena, Gavin and Stacey and Alan Partridge, Henry Normal returns to his first love: poetry.
Mad John's Walk, with John Gallas and John Goodridge
The Mad John in question is the poet John Clare. In 1841 Clare absconded from the Essex asylum and walked 90 miles home to Northamptonshire. Last year Leicester poet John Gallas walked the same route, much changed since 1841. This is what he found. John Goodridge, author of John Clare, the Trespasser, talks about the transgressive Clare who challenged property rights and admired Gypsies and drovers who loved the land as they did.
Ghost Stories, with Jane Adams and Stuart Hill
Jane and Stuart introduce Grimalkin, a new Leicester publisher of ghost stories and weird fiction. It’s no good going to your publisher, when they think you write Crime novels or Young Adult and asking them if they’d publish a selection of ghost stories... or poems... or a novel that isn’t anything like your normal output. But writers are curious beasts and stories are a bit like stray cats. When one starts to scratch on the door of your brain, wanting to be let in, sooner or later you get a cat flap installed. Grimalkin Books started as a response to that dilemma. This year they will publish two novels and two anthologies of stories, all more or less strange.
Dahlia Publishing - Welcome to Leicester!
Through their poetry book Welcome to Leicester, and collection of short stories Lost and Found: stories of home by Leicester writers, Dahlia presents the city to itself and to the world. Authors from the collections will read and discuss what makes this Leicester, and what makes somewhere home.