Birkbeck, University of London launches nationwide literary anthology to champion short stories and new voices

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Birkbeck, University of London has launched a new literary anthology to celebrate the versatility and power of the short story. Publishing annually as a book and e-book, The Mechanics’ Institute Review will offer a new approach to publishing as it seeks to open up opportunities for writers from across the UK and attract a wide variety of subjects, settings, voices, perspectives and styles.

Contributions for the book are chosen, by blind selection, by a group of student volunteers from the Creative Writing MA at Birkbeck, overseen by staff. Writers and editors are involved at all stages of the publishing process, to widen access to the world of publishing, and provide development and education opportunities.

The first issue of the anthology will publish 25 September 2017 with contributions from writers including Dane Buckley, Stephanie Hutton, Madeline Cross, Ellen Hardy and Gemma Weekes, as well as two new stories by award-winning ‘guest authors’ Jenn Ashworth and Alan Beard.

The collection provides a unique snapshot of writing in the UK, with subjects ranging from Iranian immigrants in London, coming out in Carmarthenshire and reunions in Gloucester, to celebrity culture, trial by social media, child sexual abuse, MGM and the refugee crisis. The stories, 26 in total, were chosen from more than 240 submissions.

“Short stories are perfectly formed literary achievements. With The Mechanics’ Institute Review we aim to introduce even more readers to this versatile and powerful art form. As a showcase of the best short-story writers from across the UK, the anthology is an exciting new addition to the wider literary culture – representing diverse and original voices, uncovering new talent, and providing a platform for underrepresented writers.”
— Julia Bell, director of the Creative Writing MA at Birkbeck

The new publication has evolved out of Birkbeck’s long-running and highly respected student anthology of the same name, following a successful bid for Arts Council funding. Over the years, Birkbeck has published 13 critically acclaimed issues and looks back at an impressive list of alumni, many of whom have been picked up by agents and publishers. In honour of this legacy, the new anthology continues the existing numbering, the first volume being Issue 14.

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