Moving Manchester: a project working with migrant communities in the City

The Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded ‘Moving Manchester’ project (2006-10) made the publications of over two hundred under-represented black and Asian writers from the North of England newly visible and created platforms where their voices could be heard.

Promotion of the writers and their work was achieved by a number of means: an open-access electronic catalogue; an on-line Writers’ Gallery; a six-week exhibition in Manchester Central Library; ‘new writing’ commissions; and multiple performance opportunities.

The project worked closely with several Manchester-based writers' organisations and publishers such as Commonword, Gatehouse, The Black Arts Alliance, Comma Press, Manchester Irish Writers' group and sought to actively promote the work of the writers and organisations concerned.

The open-access electronic catalogue of Manchester writing (featuring over 200 publications), which will be linked directly to Manchester Central Library once refurbishment of the latter is complete, constitutes a permanent resource for local school-children, writers’ organisations and the general public as well as academics. Likewise, the ‘Writers’ Gallery’ (accessible from the same website) represents another important permanent resource, featuring previously unpublished creative works alongside author-profiles and the writers’ reflections on the genesis of their writing.

The website also features the Moving Manchester commission - a £1,000 award for a new writing reflecting on Manchester’s long history as a crossroads for international migration – which was won by poet, John Siddique, for his sequence of poems From a Seed to a Flower: five poems from real lives. Siddique’s poems were based on interviews undertaken in and around Piccadilly Gardens and are accompanied by his own photographic images of his encounters.

Meanwhile, ‘Writing Manchester’, a six-week exhibition mounted in the Catalogue Hall of Manchester Central Library (September – October 2009), achieved unprecedented visibility for Manchester’s contemporary literary scene, with displays that featured the works of city-based organisations and publishers as well individual authors. The exhibition was featured in the Manchester Evening News. November 2013 sees the publication of Postcolonial Manchester (Manchester University Press), the project book, which provides an overview of Manchester’s dynamic literary scene from the 1960s to the present and includes interviews with many of the authors.