Do you have a story to share?
Do you want to amplify the voices of people on the margins of the writing world?
If so, then join The Great Margin. Create and share your story with us.
The Great Margin was a fast-evolving mass participation project, a collection of stories written from isolation, during a time of global crisis, when people need connection more than ever before.
Loneliness, isolation and marginalisation take a serious toll on physical and mental health. More than ever, we need to find ways to share our experiences and connect with others. It’s possible we didn’t realise just how much our sense of wellbeing was lifted by being able to walk down the street, catch the eye of a stranger and smile, meet a friend in a café, stop and listen to a person sing and play guitar.
How do we thrive in a world where the most basic instincts that make us human are taken away?
We do what we’ve always done – we share our stories.
Responding directly to the current crisis, we gathered pieces from writers across the world with a focus on experiences of writing, reading, and living during a time of isolation.
The pieces we collected were written during the time of Covid-19, self-isolation and instructions to ‘Stay at Home’, though the stories needn’t have been about the current situation. (See Submissions Page for our themes.) We actively encouraged those who experience longer term isolation and marginalisation to share their writing and experiences. Our focus was on the ideas expressed rather than technical ability so we welcomed new and unpublished writers, as well as those who weren’t sure whether they consider themselves as ‘writers’ yet.
How did the project work?
The project was facilitated through a series of flash initiatives over summer 2020, reacting quickly to the evolving needs of those in isolation in the hope that we could bring communities of readers and writers together. These communities included writing groups, workshops, and festivals where stories, writing, and experiences were shared.
The first of these flash initiatives was The Stay-at-Home! Festival, an online festival developed by bestselling author and poet CJ Cooke, of which Paper Nations is a partner. Read more about the Stay-at-Home! Festival below.
Brought to You in Association With...
The Stay-at-Home! Festival
The Stay-at-Home! Festival is an online festival that running between March-May annually. It was developed by bestselling author and poet CJ Cooke, with Paper Nations as a partner in 2020. The festival celebrated the power of writing and reading in preventing loneliness and championed connectivity and community amidst social distancing.
Work produced and inspired by the festival was submitted to The Great Margin Showcase. Paper Nations also supported the development of several Writers in Residence, who each contributed a piece of writing to The Great Margin Showcase.
The Stay-at-Home! Festival 2020 had over 20,000 participants, and 220 writers took part. Paper Nations hosted a plenary via Zoom on 23rd April to consult with both the participants and the writers to determine the best way to continue the festival.
More information on the festival is available on: https://www.stayathomelitfest.org/.
The B&NES Library Service and The Bath Record Office
The Great Margin is pleased to have partnered with B&NES Library Service and the Bath Record Office.
In 2020, the Bath Record Office created ‘Corona Captured’, an archive of the personal responses of local residents to the current pandemic. Writers submitting to The Great Margin Showcase who live in Bath or North East Somerset had the option of their entries being included in ‘Corona Captured’.
In addition, The Great Margin worked alongside the ‘Lockdown’ competition run by the B&NES Library Service. ‘Lockdown’ called for short stories or poems responding to this theme and was open to members of Libraries West aged over 18.
The Great Margin featured the two winners of ‘Lockdown’ on our showcasing platform.
BBC Upload and The British Library
We are delighted to have worked with BBC Upload on The Great Margin. Entries on The Great Margin Showcase which were selected as our ‘Pick of the Month’ were submitted to their national network of Upload stations. The BBC showcased some these pieces on local radio and/or digital platforms. During the project, BBC Upload were also working with The British Library on their archive of writing about the Covid-19 pandemic. Work submitted to BBC Upload was also considered to become a part of The British Library’s archive.
Writing from Home Workshops with the Dare to Write? Academy
As part of the project, we established a scholarship scheme for five new online writing support groups for 50 writers who were facing economic hardship, social deprivation or cultural barriers relating to disability, race, gender and/or caring duties. These writers had the opportunity to submit work to The Great Margin, should they wish to do so. Several writers went on to have their work published and some even had their work adapted to poetry film format.
Partnerships Under Phase Two of The Great Margin
The Daily Haiku
As we move into the later phase of the Great Margin, we announced a partnership with The Daily Haiku, led by Amanda White and featured on our Showcasing blog. The partnership involved collaboration on a series of films, and workshops. We also collaborated on the development of a new, dedicated Great Margin website, featuring film-poems and a new community page.
Tracy Harris Video Production
The autumnal phase of the project saw us joining together with Pick of the Month winner Tracy Harris to transform several pieces of writing submitted to The Great Margin into short films. These were displayed on our new website, narrated by a range of spoken word artists.