Creative Writing Virtual Masterclasses

Autumn 2020

All masterclasses will take place virtually at 6.30pm.  Joining links will be provided on request

The Masterclass Series exists to supplement Masters and undergraduate students of Creative Writing with talks and readings from excellent writers, agents, publishers and others with knowledge of the world of writing.  All interested members of the university or public are welcome to attend.  We also use the series to highlight the work of writers associated with Sheffield Hallam who are launching new work.  If you are, or know of, a member of staff or alumnae who is publishing a work of high quality prose, poetry or literary non-fiction and would like to apply to launch their work within the series, please get in touch with Harriet Tarlo (

Week 7 – 11/11/2020 – Stephen Sexton:  Times of the Image: Contemporary Ekphrasis

This masterclass will provide an introduction to the genre of ekphrasis, a genre of poetry which finds its origins in Ancient Greek rhetoric, and which has developed over the many centuries to include objects of visual art, photographs, films, cartoons and video games. Ekphrasis takes an object, such as a painting, and responds to it in language, using one or several of a number of processes. This masterclass will consider compelling examples of the genre; poems representing new technologies of the image. Consequently, it will consider the new ways we understand images in relation to language, ourselves and the world.

Stephen Sexton’s first book, If All the World and Love Were Young was the winner of the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2019 and the Shine / Strong Award for Best First Collection.  He is the 2020 recipient of the E M Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.  He was the winner of the National Poetry Competition in 2016 and the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award in 2018.  He teaches at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Flyer for Creative Writing Master Class – Nov 11

Week 8 – 18/11/2020 Robert Macfarlane:  Writing Nature in the Anthropocene

What are the possibilities and responsibilities of writing about ‘nature’ in an age of pandemics, climate fires and extinction?  How can literature encompass both harm and wonder, and how might it intersect with contemporary politics?  Join Robert Macfarlane and Joanna Dobson for a discussion about these and other questions concerning literature, art, protest and loss.

Robert Macfarlane is the author of books about nature, landscape, place and people including Underland, Landmarks,The Old Ways, The Wild Places and, with Jackie Morris, The Lost Words: A Spell Book.  His work has been widely adapted for film, radio and performance, and he has collaborated with artists and musicians including Johnny Flynn, Stanley Donwood and Karine Polwart.

Flyer for Creative Writing Master Class – Nov 18

Week 9 – 25/11/2020 Frances Leviston:  The Painful Knots Of Stories

When we say ‘conflict’, do we really mean ‘pain’?  Knowing what to write about, and how — particularly in the case of the short story — might well be a case of following some pain to the source and applying more pressure once there.  This talk will trace such a possibility through.

Frances Leviston studied English at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, and graduated from the MA in Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University in 2006.  Her first book of short stories, The Voice in My Ear, was published by Jonathan Cape in 2020.  She has previously written two collections of poetry: Public Dream (2007), which was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize, and Disinformation (2015), shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Award.  She is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Manchester.  She lives in Northumberland.

Flyer for Creative Writing Master Class – Nov 25

Week 10 – 2/12 /2020 – Open Mic Flyer for Creative Writing Master Class – Dec 2

Week 11 – 9/12 /2020 Dave Swann:  The Third Space: A Guide to the Fascinations of Flash Fiction

A guide to some of the challenges of writing flash fiction, with tips on how to approach back-story; characterisation; imagery; tension; humour; openings and closings; and dramatic focus.  I will also discuss some of the things that flash fiction writers can learn from poets and screenwriters.

David Swann has worked in newspaper offices, jails, warehouses, and nightclubs.  He is a Senior Lecturer in English & Creative Writing at the University of Chichester. His collection, The Privilege of Rain (Waterloo Press, 2010), based on his experiences as a Writer-in-Residence in a prison, was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award.  His stories, flashes, and poems have won many awards, including eight successes at the Bridport Prize and two in the National Poetry Competition.  Dave’s flash fiction collection, Stronger Faster Shorter (Flash: The International Short-Short Story Press), was published in 2015.

Flyer for Creative Writing Master Class – Dec 9