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March 1 - March 29
  • For writers
  • Workshop
  • Writer-in-Residence

Pop-Up Writers House

Metal Southend


Metal at Chalkwell Hall
Chalkwell Avenue
Southend-on-Sea, SS0 8NB

Box Office:

Metal at Chalkwell Hall
01702 470 700
[email protected]

Click here to find out more: metalculture.com

As part of an exciting new partnership with Essex Book Festival, Metal is transforming Chalkwell Hall into a pop-up Essex Writers House for the whole month of March 2018 to host a wide range of literary events and activities. Our aim is to provide development opportunities for writers working in all genres, whilst engaging with audiences of all ages.

The month will include talks and practical seminars by invited authors, poets, non-fiction writers, playwrights and screen writers. There will be ‘open mic’ opportunities for new writers to read and perform short works. Six guest writers-in-residence will stay across the month to develop new work and there will be a number of ‘hot desks’ with stunning Estuary views that can be booked by writers to work at (first come, first served – 2 days max).

The ground floor of the Grade II listed Hall will become a Writers Café, where people can eat, read, swap books, have a coffee and write in the inspiring grounds of Chalkwell Park. In the evenings the café will become a bar and play host to our programme of readings, events, Book Club gatherings – and even a literary pub quiz.

As part of the month, Metal will be hosting a week long, residential Culture LAB for Essex-based writers, working in any genre (fiction / non-fiction / poetry / playwright / screenwriter / graphic novels etc) which will take place from Monday 19 – Friday 23 March 2018. The LAB is designed to provide a peer-to-peer environment for intensive development of participants writing practice. This amazing opportunity includes talks and workshops with acclaimed international writers, Paavo Matsin (Estonia) and Agnieszka Studinska (Poland); one-to-one advice and tutorials; support from the Metal creative team; time and space to write and develop specific aspects of a current project – or create a new piece of writing; discussion and exchange of ideas and practice; the opportunity to meet the Essex Book Festival team and create links for the future; as well as a public reading.

Criteria and details of How To Apply for the Culture LAB  –  The deadline for submissions is Friday 16 February 2018. 




Having hosted artists of all disciplines in residence at Chalkwell Hall for the last ten years, we know our bedrooms with stunning Thames Estuary views are an inspiring and productive place to stay and create work.  During March, the Essex Writers House will play host to six writers from various parts of the UK and overseas.

  1. Paavo Matsin – award winning Estonian author Paavo Matsin, Winner of European Union Prize for Literature 2016 for Gogol’s Disco.
  2. Agnieszka Studinska – Polish Poet whose debut collection Snow Calling was shortlisted for London Festival New Poetry Award 2010.
  3. Benedict Newbery – poet and journalist,  widely published in literary journals including Ambit, Magma, Acumen, Other PoetryProle, Borderlines, South Bank Poetry –  and The Morning Star.
  4. Veronique Chance – works within a multi-disciplinary art practice that is mainly photography and video-based but also has strong links to performance.
  5. Mark Grist – poet and battle rapper based in Peterborough, UK, who rose to prominence when his Don’t Flop rap battle against Mancunian MC Blizzard became an internet sensation
  6. Keely Mills – poet, writer, producer and placemaker.  She was  Peterborough Poet Laureate in 2009 and has performed at multiple venues across the UK including Edinburgh Festival, the Houses of Parliament, Grow Heathrow and here in Southend at Village Green.

Hot Desks
Thurs 1 – Thurs 29 March (not Sun 18 March)

Two ‘Hot Desks for Hire’ with spectacular views of the Thames Estuary are available to writers, FREE OF CHARGE, to book by the day (9am – 9pm) for the duration of the Pop Up Essex Writers House. Named after two great Essex writers George Warwick Deeping (b. 1877 – d.1950) and Margaret Cavendish (b.1623 – d.1673) and with inspiring Thames Estuary Views, access to a kitchen, and a lively café space downstairs for breaks, what more is needed for a space away from domestic distractions.  Bookings are limited to two days, per person.

Box Office:  Book your space at metalculture.com/projects/southend-pop-up-essex-writers-house


Writers Café
Thurs 1 – Thurs 29 March (closed Sun 18 March)
11am – 4pm (daily)

From Voltaire to Hemingway and Sue Townsend to JK Rowling writers have a long tradition of people watching, writing and observing life from cafés and bars. Come and enjoy a cuppa in our Pop Up Writers Cafe with Book Swap / Book Shop / Open Mic readings / and events throughout the month. If you are a writer (first time or already published) and would like an opportunity to read at our daily 1pm Open Mic: 10 Minute Read, please get in touch at [email protected]


Open Mic: Daily 10 Minute Read
1pm – every day from our Writers Café

Calling all budding, emerging and established writers…….

Every day that our Writers Café is open – at 1pm we’ll be handing over the stage and a mic to writers and spoken word performers who would like the opportunity to share new work. Wherever you are in your writing journey – at the very beginning or with 10 bestsellers to your name, we’d love to hear from you. Contact [email protected] to book your slot – or turn up and chalk up your name against a date.


Thursday 1 March 7.30pm
What Writers Want

A Long Table discussion for writers at all stages of their career (from aspiring to published many times). Guest speakers include Chris Gribble, Chief Executive, Writers Centre Norwich, Syd Moore, author and Essex Book Festival Writer in Residence 2018 among others still to be confirmed.

Tickets:           FREE but booking essential as places limited
Box Office:    Book Tickets here


Friday 2 March 7.30pm
Damn Write

Old Trunk Theatre present their popular and often raucous regular night celebrating new writing by Essex writers. Expect up to ten new pieces written to the evenings set theme of Feminist as F***

Tickets:           £5 (all proceeds go to Old Trunk)
Box Office:   Book Tickets here


Thurs 8 March 7.00pm
Future Park – International Women’s Day Special

Metal’s regular social for artists working in all disciplines goes fully female for an evening celebration of creativity and expression. 10 x 3 min open mic spots, followed by our guest speaker, the brilliant Helen Linehan, co-writer of hilarious BBC Two hit comedy series, Motherland.

Tickets:           FREE but booking essential
Box Office:    Book Tickets here


Sat 10 / Sun 11 March, 11am – 4pm
Open Weekend: Mothers Day

A weekend celebrating families and mothers throughout literature, with loads to engage and captivate all ages. Plus, try out our NetPark digital stories, created with young people. More details to follow soon……

Tickets:           FREE – no need to book, just drop by…


Thurs 15 March 7.30pm (reading starts at 8.00pm)
The Big Book Club Get Together

Did you know – Essex has more Book Clubs than any other county in the UK? Come to our mass gathering of Essex book lovers. Meet other Book Clubs, find out how to start your own, recruit new members. The evening will be mostly social, but we’ll be suggesting the short, classic text The Machine Stops by E M Forster, to read before you come (if you haven’t read it already). Written in 1909 this remarkable predicts social media and the internet almost 90 years before they become a reality and seems more relevant than ever to current debates about Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things. No need to worry if you haven’t got time to read it – come along anyway – we’ll be performing a short extract that evening……

Tickets:           FREE but booking essential
Box Office:    
Book Tickets here


Thurs 22 March 7.00pm
Essex Writers

Hear from ten writers based in Essex who have spent the week at our Pop Up Writers House for an intensive week-long LAB looking at the evocation of place in writing – with a reading from each.

Tickets:           FREE but booking essential
Box Office:    Book Tickets here


Friday 23 March 3.00pm – 4.30pm
Being a Writer – Travis Elborough and Helen Gordon

The anthology Being A Writer is an inspiring assemblage of wit, wisdom and hard-won practical advice from some of the world’s greatest authors musing on the art of writing and how they came to define themselves as writers.  Join its editors, the authors Helen Gordon and Travis Elborough, as they present an entertaining survey of the pleasures and pitfalls of the writing life from the time of Samuel Johnson and Grub Street to the age of silicon roundabout and Lorrie Moore.

Tickets:           FREE – but booking essential
Box Office:    Book Tickets here


Friday 23 March 7.00pm
Spooked! – Spiritualists, Spies and Scandals
Syd Moore and Cathi Unsworth

Discuss the occult and secret service networks in operation during World War II, the mysteries that surrounded these clandestine operations and the links between clairvoyants, magicians, witchcraft and spies.

Tickets:           £7 / £5 (27yrs and under)
Box Office:     essexbookfestival.org.uk/event/spooked/


Thurs 29 March 7.00pm – late
TOMA Pub Quiz: The Painted Dada Word

The worlds of literature and contemporary art collide in our final Essex Writers House event as artists from the Metal alternative art MA programme, TOMA, host a Dada themed pub quiz evening featuring live art and music performances, ‘curated’ snacks and a silent auction of artworks alongside quiz questions on literature, music, art and everything in between.  Get your team together and sign up for a fun night. DJs until close.

Tickets:            £6 (per person) for quiz entry + FREE Dada themed cocktail (all proceeds go to fund TOMA exhibitions)
Box Office:     Book Tickets here


Book Shop
Thurs 1 – Thurs 29 March (closed Sunday 18 March)
11am – 4pm (daily)

New and second hand literary classics of all genres available to browse and buy with The Book Shop Experience who will be in residence at our Writers House Café all month. Metal will also be hosting an Essex Book Festival Reference Library that will have all the books featured as part of festival programme in one place.


Book Swap
Thurs 1 – Thurs 29 March (closed Sunday 18 March)
11am – 4pm (daily)

Fancy renewing your reading pile – while giving a new lease of life to the books you’ve already read that have been sitting on your shelves gathering dust. Visit our Book Swap to exchange your old titles for ‘new to you’ books that others have enjoyed and want to share.


What Writers Want – Questionnaire

Following the opening event on Thursday 1 March – all month Metal will be collecting ideas and feedback from writers about what how they could be better supported in Essex – and if a permanent Essex Writers House could work? We’d love to hear from you. Complete the questionnaire online at metalculture.com – or visit the Writers Café to fill in a paper form.

More details on events and activities to follow soon.  In the meantime, if you are a writer with an idea – or a desire to share your work on a public platform – please get in touch, Metal would love to hear from you – [email protected]

Location of Event: