Interview with Roma Havers

Chair of Manchester Creative Writing Society.

When and how did you become Chair of Manchester Creative Writing Society?

I joined the society in my first year (it was small then, maybe five or so regulars) and they immediately recognised a genuine interest in me and I was asked pretty early to take over the society when the committee graduated. I wanted to do more with the project, it didn't make sense to me that the society was so small - there are lots of writers at the University – and I wanted to run writing workshops. So, I basically expanded it from there.

How do you feel it has changed and evolved over time?

It's been a relatively natural progression of expansion, you can look at the numbers on the Facebook page, but that doesn't really matter to me, except that there's more potential access for people; we've been able to do more projects, have more visiting writers, travel to events – compete and get national and city-wide recognition for what we do. It's not really just a university project for me, it's a project for university students.

Have there been any stand-out achievements or milestones?

In the last year: we competed and came third in a National Slam competition, that was pretty major.

And on a smaller scale, individuals have told me that the group, and the members in it, were part of the reason they stayed at university.

What structure do the workshops take, and do you organise any other events?

The workshops are different each week, but predominantly the goal is to get something written. Too many people get stuck on the idea of wanting to write and then not doing it, so the act of creation is the main goal, after than it's about expanding skills and having a good time.

We run monthly open mic nights, go on trips to events/plays/performances, have visiting writers and collaborate with other university projects and societies.

Do you feel your role in running the Society has helped you to develop as a writer yourself?

Of course, working alongside people with similar goals to you, will always make you better, as well as have the luck and privilege of being able to write more than otherwise – and hearing/reading other people's work – has all developed me as a writer. Making workshops helps to, the process of working out a structure of how to best to get good writing out of other people, helps structuring how to write best yourself.

What are your plans for the future of the society?

I'm doing a Masters at the moment and I'll be graduating soon, for me it's now about legacy and sustainability, that the people I'm working with now want to move it forward in and of themselves and in a way that's fresh. I don’t want it to stay the same, but I think I'm moving towards the point of someone else needing to change it – which is very exciting to me.

Extract from Pubs, Pakistan and Preservation

I was breathing - and that wasn’t acceptable; his law was sacrosanct, a monolith; an institution formed from deeply-embedded beliefs; the inexcusable coldness his own mother had shown him in his formative years had created reefs; hard-spent coral, rotten reeds, dead urchins, aggressive sea dragons, colour devoid of life, no plankton present, set so deep, no sun could ever reach them to irradiate and renew spirit and the sensibility of life. Neptune sitting here, basking in this wasteland, waiting for time to trigger the anger, disorder; the paranoia and impatience towards his family, the isolation and squalid inertia, the fragility of others crying deep into the night, the tyranny wrought on his young and beautiful family that, my dad was meant to love, rear, develop and tenderly care for. She had not done a good job, his mother; his maleficence was not to be exposed.

Shenez Khanum

The Broken Painter

The colours almost dried
The art was finished, done
The field and his bride
The flaming summer sun.
But wait, the darkness sets and thunder shouts with frustration
The lightning spills shades of blue
And splits the world in two
The living hide in aimless desperation
And bones float to the surface of the tortured turf,
As wind whistles to the thunder's song
Of praises for the stoic north
How white it is, how cold, how strong...
The skeletons dance to this requiem for Quiet,
And even They, shake,
To warm their hollow absent hearts...
The nature made her protest, riot
To man's fake
Generosity and kindness; the lies of a pure pretender...
But there always is an end to any feat of anger:
The white raven rallies rays of rainbow's color
And with the usual birdish valor
He brings it back...
All, again on track:

The colours almost dried.
The art was finished, done.
The field and his bride.
The flaming summer sun.

But not forever; the Raven spills light to make the purest paint
To turn the world infinitely faint,
To finish the foolish endeavor.
Get rid of old
And Start:
It's cold,
The Artist needs a heart.
The old one: broken, shattered; lies on the wooden floor.
There is no friend to fix the ashes;
Is there a store?
Not for a thing this precious.
Not even for all the gold.
Not that he has any...

The canvas - white and cold

Grigorii Timofeev

Transition states

These days I profusely resonate,
with transition states of chemical reactions;
A stage in a reaction having the highest energy but the lowest stability, akin to my life’s brand new disability;
Although they are quite short-lived, my situation offers a sheer contrast with immense passion.
Within this eternal fleeting moment, my identity is lost, and so is my naive notorious self; lost in searching for hints contained in other people’s minds.
Should I confine myself in my own judgements, should I strive to put on a skin which everyone likes or should I just embrace the continuous entropy bubbling inside my mind. There exists a gnawing person in me, wanting to step in the same river twice, because there is some stability in being unaware of the infinite possibilities of the real world.

Giving empathy is a two way street so why am I stuck on the wrong side?
The unconditional love that reared me, taught me to just be plain nice, but not where to draw the line, for advantages are not always positive especially when suffixed ahead of the many versions of the verb ‘take’.
Who says that mutants are fiction, they should see me shape shifting from secure to vulnerable,
with no certainty of attaining equilibrium.
You know,
the younger me never thought that the older me would learn to love the beard burn followed by my dad’s hugs,
the only thing that now ironically soothes my being,
when I walk towards the boarding gate,
preparing myself for the solo war that lies ahead,
because a substrate will eventually transform into a product,
and so will the confused child within me.

Chhavi Mahajan