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IHUK 2020

exploring Historical Fiction in a time of pandemic

Times Shifting was our response to pandemic times. Unable to take groups of young writers to historical sites of interest in the company of writers and arts educators, we did the only thing we could. With the help of our collaborators at the Young Norfolk Arts Festival, and from the ranks of previous shortlisted writers and winners of the Young Walter Scott Prize, we recruited a group of young artists to explore the historical moment of the pandemic and to use it as a source for their writing.

The writers were guided by the IHUK team in ways to create and share collections of ephemera, snippets, highly personal impressions and momentary inspirations from their lived experience of the time. They were given up to 2,000 words each with which to create their response to that collection. To see the proposal we made to prospective writers, click here.

In February 2021 an anthology Times Shifting – New Voices from a Changed World was published. Below are digital versions of the writers’ works. Follow their names to their writing

Real life copies of the anthology are available by contacting ImaginingHistoryUK@outlook.com.

Times Shifting presents a chance both to step into and back from the immediacy of experience, to sift and comprehend events of great magnitude, and transform these into poetry and prose that snatch snapshots from a maelstrom of opinion, emotion and experience. Elizabeth Ferretti – writer, researcher and tutor on Times Shifting.

THE WRITERS

The age of closed eyes
Alex Kukulina
Kratovo Village (nr Moscow)

As long as I do not get out of the house, I am safe. My world is inside the house and it will not be connected to the messed up world outside, if I do not let it” – I thought…

Joseph Burton
Folkestone, Kent

…we were finally waking up from the dream of modernity – that fanciful belief which insisted we were safe from primitive foes…

Maisie Beckett
South Wales

Even in the midst of a pandemic, I was able to give myself the freedom to explore and expand myself through my writing…

Meg Lintern
My grandparents house in France, and my home in England

…feelings of joy at the extended time with the people I loved, feelings of frustration with the vast quantity of inknowns that had been thrust into my previously predictable life, and feelings of bewilderment at the rapidly changing world around me…

Emi Combret
Toulouse, SW France

…the year 202 was terrible, and it actually makes me laugh. Not because it’s amusing (well, it is in a way), but because I was wondering how it would be taught to children in a few years…

Shelby Cooke
Delaware, USA

…it provided me with a means of examining my emotions…allowed me to process what seemed completely unattainable at the time, reflecting back on a time that felt so unreal and like and out-of-the body experience…

Sally Piper
Littlehampton, south coast of England

…it became a way of escaping the loneliness of isolating, whilst still thinking about what a historically significant period of time we are living through…

Elise Swain
On the side of Black Mountain, Belfast

…Writing made me feel connected to many people…and having something to do that was constructive made me feel like I had a purpose…

Ide Crawford
Macclesfield

…sometimes I wonder whether a collective attempt to imagine what we have never yet experienced would help us deal with events like this on a national level…

Krishna Gowda
Liverpool

…writing about the unusual times we were living through felt important as it served as a timely reminder of how crucial gratitude is for the common things, previously taken for granted, like personal freedom…

Jonathan Clark
Manchester

…we were coming out of the Spring lockdown…we as people create myths and legends out of the past…

Vaneeza Butt
London

…during pandemic I finally had my “coming of age” moment, and I remember thinking, “Wow, finally.” To zoom out and observe the world comprehensively during Times Shifting, is something I’ll revisit and dwell on forever…

Molly-Rose Medhurst
Ramsgate, Kent

It was really important for me to write…I could process the fear I held about the BLM protests, the fear of worldwide trauma, government neglect and insufficient healthcare provisions, along with my greatest fear: death. It was great to put that somewhere

Rosi Byard-Jones
Nagoya, Japan and back home in England

…I have recently been thinking about how our perception of the linear passing of time has been affected by our immersion in the here and now…I wanted to explore how these times are ultimately a passing moment in the cyclical motions of nature…

Elisabeth Jeffreys
Village of Sunny Lockdown, Worcestershire

…without realising, I had assumed that a shaking, a sifting, of the world would bring to the surface the solid things, the things that remain…

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All writing, all images © The Imagining History Programme UK

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