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Writer in Residence working with Knowle West community

New role part of the Working-Class Writers Festival which takes place 21-24 October

Main image of Paul Hawkins by Tom Skipp for Hypha Studios.

Paul Hawkins is the new Writer in Residence at Knowle West Media Centre. Picture Mark Simmons.

Knowle West has its own Writer in Residence – who will be out and about in the community for six weeks working with local groups and individuals in the neighbourhood.

Paul Hawkins is based at Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) – and the new role is part of the Working Class Writers Festival run by Bristol Ideas – which starts this week.

The aim of the festival is to “enhance, encourage and increase representation of working class writers across the country”, while also connecting audiences, authors and readers as well as agents and editors.

Paul, who identifies as coming from a working class background, is a poet and visual artist and co-runs Hesterglock Press, a small Bristol-based publisher.

He has had over 12 collections published of poetry, visual poetry, collage and text art – and is currently turning a former newsagents in Broadwalk Shopping Centre into a studio, gallery and space for workshops – with the support of Hypha Studios.

EWI Studio in Broadwalk Shopping Centre. Picture Paul Hawkins.
Paul at the studio which includes a wall for people to write on. Picture Tom Skipp for Hypha Studios.

He is passionate about “inclusivity, celebrating diversity and collaboration” as well as opportunity and empowerment – and has vast experience in working with communities.

He says: “I run visual poetry workshops for Second Step Bristol and have run workshops with those in recovery from addiction, the Men’s Crisis Centre in Bristol and a single fathers’ group in Hartcliffe.

“If we generate sufficient work, I’d be more than happy to look at the possibility of publishing a book or a pamphlet, which is something I have done in the past when working with different groups…”

The first workshop he will be running in Knowle West is on Sunday 31 October at KWMC – following discussions with campaign group Friends of the Western Slopes.

The Friends are fighting to protect a nature-rich area of meadows and woodland – which stretch from Novers Hill to Hartcliffe Way – from development.

Paul says the workshop is for any community members who would like to design and make flyers and posters, possibly for a large billboard. They can also find other ways to publicise the issues local people are protesting about – relating to current planning proposals for building houses on some local green spaces.

He says: “I hope we can plan out and create some visual art with text/writing to highlight the issues you’re fighting for… I’m looking forward to meeting members and doing something collaboratively and creatively that will help the campaign and the community of Knowle West…”

This workshop is just the starting point of his residency which has been funded by Arts Council England. Paul is currently reaching out to local people in the area to “see if they’d like to meet up and make some visual poetry – words and art (photos, collage, paint, ink, scribbles, scrawls, pencils, crayons) about a local issue – good or bad, fun or difficult.”

He is open to ideas and suggestions from the community and you can contact him at hesterglock@gmail.com or via Knowle West Alliance Facebook page.

The workshop takes place on 31 October at Knowle West Media Centre in Leinster Avenue (next to Jarman’s shops) from 10am to 1pm.

To find out more about Paul’s work and future events he is running at EWI Studio in Broadwalk Shopping Centre visit: https://eachwhat.com/Eachwhat-Industries-Studio-events

The Working-Class Writers Festival runs from 21 to 24 October 2021. Events will take place in locations around Bristol as well as online – and will include panel discussions, speaker events and workshops. This includes a writing workshop at KWMC on 23 October, 11am-1pm for those with English as a Second Language.

Most events are free but where there are ticket prices, or for selected events in the city centre, bursaries will be offered to allow people from under-represented backgrounds to attend. For more details visit www.bristolideas.co.uk/projects/class/