Silas Pease


The workshop and open mic were set up in an effort to provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ writers to help build and share their identities.

A workshop and open mic was held in the Kelvin Hall on 19 February during LGBTQ+ History Month to provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ writers to build on and share their work on topics surrounding their identities.

The event, hosted and ran by University of Glasgow PhD researcher Tawnya Selene Renelle from the School of Critical Studies, was organised by the group Dare to Speak. 

Eleanor Capaldi, the creator of the group and co-chair of the University of Glasgow's LGBT+ Staff Network, said events like this give a space for voices that have historically and socially been sidelined.

“While there are new and more diverse voices emerging across the public sphere, which is heartening to see. There are systematic inequalities that still make it difficult for these voices to break through, which is why any time you can offer a platform, create a space or uplift these voices, it’s a good thing to do,” Capaldi said.

The writing workshop, held in Seminar Room 1 of the Kelvin Hall, ran from 3pm to 4:30pm with the purpose of opening up participants to new poetic and creative writing techniques with respect to their LGBTQ+ identities. The workshop was split into a 40-minute writing exercise seminar, with a further 20 minutes given to an open discussion and question time, allowing the participants to share their experiences and engage with each other about their pieces.

The open mic event, held in the Kelvin Hall Lecture Theatre, ran from 6pm to 8pm and allowed visitors, including participants of the workshop, to step up and read aloud some of their own work. The topics discussed ranged from issues like the AIDS epidemic, the nature of language in the LGBTQ+ community, and personal experiences, and were shared in a variety of formats like poems, creative writing pieces and anecdotes.

Emrys Woodward, a student at the University who attended both the workshop and the open mic, said they decided to go to the event because they felt it would be useful for learning new creative writing skills, especially in the context of an LGBTQ+ inclusive space.

“Any opportunity to meet other writers and to be given new ideas and to see what other people say is always an opportunity that I want to take, and especially if it’s something queer-centric," Woodward said.

The turnout for the event was fairly low, with eight of the supposed 15 people who had signed up for the workshop turning up, and only three visitors being present for the open mic. 

“I genuinely believe that it doesn’t matter how few or how many people you have, it is about what is shared and what is created,” Renelle said. “Those three people just met each other, they conversed, they found connection and networked with one another and I think that’s all really valuable time, no matter how large or how small.”

For those interested in taking part in a similar event in the future, the University is hosting a symposium on 1 May called ‘Beyond Form: An Experiment in the Art and Practice of Trying’. The event will include a range of panels and performances involving a wide range of the arts and discussing the nature of form and genre.

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