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 is 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 are gathering pieces from writers across the world with a focus on experiences of writing, reading, and living during a time of isolation. We’ll update you about the project and about how to get involved via the Paper Nations and The Great Margin Twitter feeds.

The pieces we are collecting will be written during the time of Covid-19, self-isolation and instructions to ‘Stay at Home’, though the stories needn’t be about the current situation. (See Submissions Page for our themes.) We actively encourage those who experience longer term isolation and marginalisation to share their writing and experiences. Our focus is on the ideas expressed rather than technical ability so we welcome new and unpublished writers, as well as those who aren’t sure whether they consider themselves as ‘writers’ yet.

Once we have gathered a selection of these stories, we will start publishing them on our dedicated showcasing blog, culminating in an international event.


How will it work?

The project will be facilitated through a series of flash initiatives over the summer, reacting quickly to the evolving needs of those in isolation in the hope that we can bring communities of readers and writers together. These will include writing groups, workshops, and festivals where stories, writing, and experiences will be 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.

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The Stay-at-Home! Festival

The Stay-at-Home! Festival is an online festival that ran from the 27th March to 11th April 2020. It was developed by bestselling author and poet CJ Cooke, with Paper Nations as a partner. The festival celebrated the power of writing and reading in preventing loneliness and championed connectivity and community amidst social distancing.

It is hoped that work produced and inspired by the festival will be submitted to The Great Margin Showcase. Paper Nations also supported the development of several Writers in Residence, who will each contribute a piece of writing to The Great Margin Showcase.

The Stay-at-Home! Festival 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:

The B&NES Library Service and The Bath Record Office

The Great Margin is pleased to be partnering with B&NES Library Service and the Bath Record Office.

The Bath Record Office is creating ‘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 will now have the option of their entries being included in ‘Corona Captured’.

In addition, The Great Margin is working alongside the ‘Lockdown’ competition being 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 will feature the two winners of ‘Lockdown’ on our showcasing platform.

BBC Upload and The British Library

We are delighted to announce that we are also working with BBC Upload. Entries on The Great Margin Showcase which are selected as our ‘Pick of the Month’ will be submitted to their national network of Upload stations. The BBC will then consider showcasing these pieces on local radio and/or digital platforms. BBC Upload are also working with The British Library on their archive of writing about the Covid-19 pandemic. Work submitted to BBC Upload has the potential 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 recently established a scholarship scheme for five new online writing support groups for 50 writers who are facing economic hardship, social deprivation or cultural barriers relating to disability, race, gender and/or caring duties. These writers will have the opportunity to submit work to The Great Margin, should they wish to do so.


Partnerships Under Phase Two of The Great Margin

The Daily Haiku

As we move into the next phase of the Great Margin, we are pleased to announce a partnership with The Daily Haiku, led by Amanda White and featured on our Showcasing blog. The partnership will involve collaboration on a series of films, and workshops. We will also collaborate on the development of a new, dedicated Great Margin website, featuring film-poems and a new community page.

Tracy Harris Video Production

Stay tuned for the autumnal phase of the project, where we’re 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 will be displayed on our new website, narrated by a range of spoken word artists.

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