26’s writers in residence at Bloomsbury Festival 2023
Our participation in the Bloomsbury Festival this year goes beyond the much-lauded WordStock event and 26 Plants—in fact, for half a decade at least, 26’s members have been haunting the festival every day it runs live events. I am, of course, talking about our writers in residence.
What does it mean to be a writer in residence? Quite simply, the writer gets to soak up everything the festival offers that day. They go to around 3-4 events of their choice, and wander the area taking in the free exhibitions and the buzz in the streets. Then, by 10pm that very same day, they need to write a response to what they’ve seen. The format of that response is totally up to the writer; it could be a review, a poem, an essay, a reflection, a series of pieces. It could be related to the day as a whole, or to a specific thing that they’ve seen. It could even have nothing to do with the events themselves, but something they saw on the street as they wandered around. Their piece, along with their bio, is then uploaded to the Bloomsbury Festival’s website, where it lives for posterity as a reminder of that year’s events.
This year, eight writers—two of them coming in at late notice due to cancellations—created on the spot and really showcased the breadth of talent within the 26 membership. We even had a new member fly all the way from Minnesota to take part!
We run the writers in residence programme every year for Bloomsbury. If it sounds like something you’d like to experience, email me, the writer-in-residence-wrangler, via email@example.com, and I’ll keep you posted on details next year.
– Lauren McMenemy
Image: Molly Ovenden and Chris Foster, posing with the Beatles, in situ – Friday 20 October 2023 – London – Bloomsbury Festival