Speaking words: an interview with Jonathan Taylor


Crystal Clear Creators is a not-for-profit organization which develops, records, showcases and promotes new and established talent for radio.

Founded in 2004 by Robin Webber-Jones and Jonathan Taylor, the organization has gone on to build an impressive list of achievements, assisting in the production of a notable range of new plays, poetry and prose for radio. It has also hosted creative writing workshops for teachers and school-age children, as well as for other people with an interest in writing.

It has recently produced and published Speaking Words: Writings for Reading Aloud, an anthology of short stories, monologues and poetry.

This year, the organization will be publishing a mini-series of poetry pamphlets, provisionally titled Presenting Poets. Each of the pamphlets will showcase an up-and-coming poet who is a member of Crystal Clear Creators. Depending on the availability of funding, C.D. recordings of the writers’ work could also accompany the pamphlets.

In addition to this, there are plans to publish an anthology of children’s stories taken mainly from those that the organization has produced for Leicester’s Takeover Radio.

Crystal Clear Creators co-founder and co-director, Jonathan Taylor spoke about the project.

Perhaps we could start by talking about Crystal Clear Creators. What is it? What are its objectives? And when was it started?

Crystal Clear Creators is a not-for-profit arts organization based in the East Midlands (a region of England –ed), which was established with a start-up grant from Arts Council England. We’ve since been funded by organizations such as the National Lottery, Ernest Cook Foundation, Riverside Housing Midlands, Charnwood Arts and so on.

We set up Crystal Clear Creators officially at the beginning of 2004 after the founder members had worked on producing various radio plays.

Our stated aims were (and still are) to develop, produce, and promote new writing, acting and producing talent, particularly for radio. To do this, we work with both established and new writers, voice-overs and engineers.

We record our members’ poetry, prose and plays, upload them onto our Web site, and from there promote the work to other organizations and radio stations. We’ve had members’ work broadcast on various radio stations, including Resonance FM, Takeover Radio, Virtually American, BBC Leicester’s Web site, Heat FM and we are currently developing work for Rutland Radio, Carillon Radio and the national digital station, One Word.

As well as this, we run creative writing day schools, courses and live readings and events across the East Midlands.

How did the idea behind Speaking Words start? How many people, artists and/organizations were involved?

We’ve now got nearly 100 members.

The Speaking Words project started in December 2004 when we received a grant from the Awards for All scheme of the National Lottery. The project consisted of putting on four creative writing day schools during 2005 across the region. Two [of the creative writing day schools] at Loughborough University, one at Monks’ Dyke Technology College in Louth, and one at BBC Leicester’s Open Centre.

We worked with BBC Leicester, Loughborough University, Literature Development Officers across the region, Monks’ Dyke Technology College, Loughborough Campus Radio, Takeover Radio and various other organizations to market, publicize and develop these day schools.

All of these events were fully or over-subscribed. Workshop leaders included well-known writers such as Tony Coult, Julie Boden, Deborah Tyler-Bennett, Mitzi Szereto, Mystie Hood, Maria Orthodoxou and others.

From these workshops, participants were invited to submit writing they’d worked on during and afterwards. In August, we collated all of the material we’d received from participants, members and so on, and passed it to the anthology editor, Deborah Tyler-Bennett. She came out with the collection as it now stands. This was then art-worked by Linda Young, printed and then launched in December at our launch event, held in the Martin Hall, Loughborough University.

The launch event was attended by nearly 65 people and included an extended reading by Julie Bowden, followed by a structured open mic session in which lots of writers performed their work.

You mention a number of radio stations. Are they all in the U.K. or are some in other countries?

The radio stations we’ve had material broadcast on are mainly based in the U.K., though Virtually American, is a U.S. radio drama broadcaster and organization.

What’s the feedback been like on the material that’s been broadcasted?

We’ve had excellent feedback on a lot of the stuff that’s been broadcasted. We’ve been asked for more content by all of the stations we’ve worked with, which is a good sign. And listeners of Heat FM, Resonance FM and Takeover Radio have all fed back to us that they really enjoyed our plays and stories and poetry.

Virtually American has also asked for more material. They loved the radio play, “The Music Master” which is now on their site.

Are there any opportunities for U.S. or overseas-based writers and performers to take part in your projects? Have any done so? If they would like to, how do they go about it?

We don’t have any U.S.-based members yet, though we do have members from the U.S., and we’ve had material from overseas, including France and the continent.

What would you say sets Speaking Words apart from other anthologies that have been and are being published?

What sets Speaking Words apart from other anthologies is its emphasis on writing for reading aloud. The idea of writers performing and reading their work in public has boomed in recent years and this anthology reflects this huge increase in public readings.

The anthology does not, though, just cater for public readings. It also includes more private material, which can be read, whispered or sung to family and friends. What binds the collection together is simply the performative aspect, the stress on sound as well as words on a page.

The anthology encompasses a whole range of writers: from new writers for whom this is their first publication, to much more established and well-known figures. It’s great to be able to publish an anthology like this, in which professionals rub shoulders with talented newcomers. The emphasis is on quality, though, throughout the editor picked what she felt to be the best of the material, and the material that made a homogenous collection.

Who would you say is the books’ target audience? Who would the book appeal to?

The book is all about audiences, readers and listeners, that’s in the nature of a collection of words to be read aloud. I suppose the primary audience is anyone who’s interested in new writing of good quality, as well as people who are interested in looking for material they can read out loud to each other or in public. The anthology is, more than anything else, meant to make entertaining and enjoyable reading.

This article was first published on OhmyNews International.

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