The Writing Platform Bursary 2015: Winners Announced

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“Judging this year’s Writing Platform Bursary opened my eyes to the incredible diversity of writers and technologists working in literature in the UK. It buoys the heart to know there is so much innovation, experimentation and courage in the British literary landscape.”  Tom Uglow, Director, Google Creative Lab

  • The selected projects will put poetry into Minecraft and use code and electronics to tell a different kind of love story
  • Writer Naomi Alderman and Google’s Tom Uglow from the selection panel give their verdict

The Writing Platform is pleased to announce the 2015 beneficiaries of its bursary scheme, awarding two writer-technologist partnerships with £4000 each.

The bursary programme supports creative experimentation and inter-disciplinary learning between writers and technologists. Each bursary is awarded to a team made up of one writer and one technologist to work together on a writing project over a period of three months. The 2015 bursary programme is supported by Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and Arts Council England (Grants for the Arts).

The 2015 bursary recipients are:

  •  Victoria Bennett, writer, and Adam Clarke, technologist, who applied as a team; and whose project will use Minecraft to immerse the player in the experience of the poem and expand the idea of what literature and video games can be.
  • Kelly Jones, writer, and Linda Sandvik, technologist, who were paired by the judging panel because, as judge Naomi Alderman noted, they both wanted to explore “telling a story that cannot help but be shaped by and respond to technology.”

The 2015 judging panel was made up of Tom Uglow, Director, Google Creative Labs; Naomi Alderman, writer and professor of creative writing at Bath Spa University and Joanna Ellis, Partner at The Literary Platform, co-founders of The Writing Platform

Speaking about the 2015 winners, Tom Uglow said:

The work of Victoria and Adam will bring poetry out of books and explore new forms of digital poetry that are made possible in the reality of Minecraft – a place that is almost super-real to its players. It has been such a treat to be part of The Writing Platform bursary, ensuring that British literature in the 21st century is no wasteland of the parochial and the conventional.”

Naomi Alderman, writer, and Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, said

“So often, in digital writing, either the ‘digital’ or the ‘writing’ ends up feeling like second fiddle, the bit that’s put in at the end when the other bit’s all dealt with. So I’m always thrilled when a digital writer has a story to tell – not just a new way to use the medium, but a story that cannot help but be shaped by and respond to technology. 

I was particularly excited, therefore, to see Kelly Jones’ story of how her parents met over CB radio, and I’m thrilled to see what she and Linda will make of it. It feels like precisely the thing I was looking for here – a story that is not only told *via* technology but is actually *about* how technology shapes our lives.”

 Joanna Ellis, partner at the Literary Platform, co-founders of The Writing Platform, added:

We received 218 applications, nearly three times the number we received in 2013, and I was delighted by the range and quality of the projects pitched. In terms of observable trends, hacking existing platforms for literary ends remained a popular theme, there was a decline in the number of entries pitching locative literature projects and an increase in the number of entries pitching projects that use pervasive media, biofeedback and physical computing. I’m really thrilled with our selection, and can’t wait to see the results.”

Speaking about their selection, Victoria Bennett and Adam Clarke said,

“Minecraft offers potential for shared expression and experience of literature in really interesting and playful ways. We want to dig into this and see what can happen. The chance to discover how the poem and the game can interact to create a whole new experience will be challenging and inspiring for us both and will extend and expand our mutual and individual creative practice. We are keen to share this work with the growing Minecraft community and see how it may seed new ideas.”

Speaking of her selection, Linda Sandvik, says:

“Recently at a hackday I came up with the idea of a text adventure alternate reality war game, and the easy bit was doing the coding. Writing the scenarios was so hard though, and I kept wishing there were writers at the hackday or that I knew any that I could collaborate with.”

Speaking of her selection, Kelly Jones, says:

“I look forward to working with Linda, learning new skills and forming new collaborations. I hope that we can create an exciting multiplatform piece that pushes and develops the art of storytelling and our individual professional practises.” 

Readers will be able to follow the progress of the two projects here on The Writing Platform website over the coming months, and finished works will be showcased at Bath Spa University’s MIX Digital 03 Conference, which takes place from 2nd – 4th July 2015.

More about the winners

Kelly Jones is Winner of the Wales Drama Award 2014. Originally from the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, she has been living and working in Wales since 2007. Her plays are rooted in real human stories and often take inspiration from personal experiences, her upbringing in Dagenham and rooting in Wales. | @TheDrownedGirl

Linda Sandvik is a creative technologist and Knight-Mozilla fellow 2015. She likes making things with code and electronics, and is interested in civic tech, serious games and loves a good story. | @hyper_linda

Victoria Bennett is a poet, creative activist and full time home-educating mum, living in rural Eden, Cumbria. She is the Founder and Editor of Wild Women Press and Blissfool Books, she has facilitated creative experiences for the past 20 years, including the Wild Women Workshops and Salons. Winner of the Northern Promise Award and the Andrew Waterhouse Award for Poetry, Victoria has published 4 collections of poetry and performed live across the UK, including Glastonbury Festival. |

Adam Clarke is an artist who uses Minecraft, games, traditional art and technology to inspire and entertain, working globally with institutions, museums, schools and companies to find groundbreaking ways to interact with a young game playing demographic. He has worked across the UK providing workshops, experiential events and talks to inspire and engage and also produces online YouTube Channel “101 Ideas for Minecraft Learners” and “Everyday Minecraft”. His current project, Tateworlds, is a series of playable Minecraft maps where the player can literally explore and interact with famous artworks from the Tate collection. | @thecommonpeople

Bath Spa UniversityGrants for the Arts


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