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Bournemouth Writing Festival hailed a "resounding success"

A Celebration of Creativity and Community

The 2024 Bournemouth Writing Festival was a resounding success, bringing together writers, readers, and literary enthusiasts from all walks of life from across the country.

Article in the Bournemouth Echo

Here's a detailed look at the highlights:

Diverse Writing Workshops

The festival featured a series of writing workshops catering to various interests and skill levels. From creative writing and poetry to memoirs and screenwriting, there was something for everyone regardless of where they are on their writing journey. Notable sold-out workshops included "Organising Chaos: Turn a Messy Draft into a Publishable Book" from editor Gary Dalkin and Sophie Beal and "Writing with a Sense of Humour" with Kathleen Whyman.

For the novice writer, "Writing your First Full-Length Book" with Valerie French right through to those ready to publish, with talks by literary agents Broo Doherty and David Headley took place at the Pavilion Dance South West and in The Avenue. Whether to self-publish or go the traditional publishing route were hot topics, with Matt Shaw, Chloe May and Alex Thompson from Troubadour Publishing and Alex Stone and Helen Corner-Bryant all giving their perspectives.

Participants at one of the talks for writers and authors. photo credit: Solid Imagery

A panel by two literary agents at the Pavilion Dance South West. Photo credit: Solid Imagery

1-2-1 Writing Surgeries and Literary Agents

New for 2024 were private 1-2-1 sessions with literary agents and writing professionals. Individual sessions were set up where aspiring writers could speak to a professional about any element of their writing, including book marketing, characterisation and pitching to agents.

Broo Doherty from DHH Literary Agency takes part in a private 1-2-1 session with a writer. Photo credit: Solid Imagery

Engaging Writing Competitions

One of the festival's standout events was the Schools and Home Education Creative Writing Competition. Young writers from across Dorset submitted nature-themed stories, poems, and essays, showcasing their creativity and passion for writing. Winners, such as Jasper from Lilliput School and home-educated Rose, received exciting prizes, including tickets to local attractions like Bournemouth Oceanarium and Marwell Zoo.

Bournemouth Writing Festival Poetry and Flash Fiction Competition 2024

The Bournemouth Writing Festival's 2024 Poetry and Flash Fiction Competition celebrated the creativity of writers with the theme "Lines in the Sand." Winning entries are featured in an anthology available on Amazon. Donations to the competition raised £562 for Vita Nova, supporting writers recovering from addiction. The judging panel included Charlotte Grace Fodor and Dr. Natalie Scott from Arts University Bournemouth.

Judge Charlotte Foder with organisers Dithering Chaps and Festival Director Dominic Wong. Photo credit: Solid Imagery

Networking Opportunities

The festival offered ample networking opportunities for writers to connect with each other and industry professionals. Events like the Friday Night Social, Genre Breakfasts (meeting other writers writing in your genre) and Mealtime Meetups allowed writers to share ideas, discuss projects, and form valuable connections within the writing community.

One of the Genre Breakfasts in local cafes. Photo credit: Solid Imagery

Friday Night Social at Flirt Cafe. Photo credit: Solid Imagery

Evening Highlights from the Bournemouth Writing Festival 2024

The Bournemouth Writing Festival 2024 featured two captivating evening events. "Bourn Jammy" was an interactive, improvisation open-mic experience, where attendees read their words whilst the live band moulded their notes to the words. The jaw-dropping MC Gramski provided an unforgettable beatbox performance, taking prompts from the audience to create a story which rhymed, dazzled and was created in front of our eyes.

A poet performs at Bourn Jammy, with a live band improvising music to his words. Photo credit: Solid Imagery

"Writing Home: Stories from the Edges of Print" showcased powerful narratives from marginalised voices, highlighting personal and poignant stories that resonate deeply. Featuring performances from Kainatt, Vita Nova, The Outsider's Project and Wordbreakers and Silences, the sold-out event celebrated diverse voices and provided unique platforms for writers to connect and share their work.

A performance from one of the four community groups that works with writers on the sidelines of society. Photo credit: Solid Imagery

Free activities

There was ample of opportunities to take part on the Writing Festival with free events scattered across Bournemouth Town Centre. From Writing on the Beach with Chris Aziz to a typewriter activity in the Bandstand, people from all ages could come and have a go at writing. At The Avenue, the Winchester Poetry Festival put on free performances in the Poetry Hub as well as drop-in sessions with professional poets, with contributions welcomed to the Community Poem (which is currently on display at Bournemouth Library).

Children take part in the free typewriter activity in the Bandstand. People could also receive a free poem based on a few personal prompts from Beth Calverely and her Poetry Machine.

Positive Feedback and Community Impact

Feedback from attendees highlighted the professionalism and welcoming atmosphere of the festival. Participants appreciated the diverse range of activities and the opportunity to learn from and engage with established writers and industry experts.

For a complete gallery of photos from the festival, and to read our impact report, visit this page

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