A Place For Words: Introduction for Writers

For writers interested in place, people and communities, the field of regeneration offers a wealth of creative and professional opportunities. Regeneration hinges on the concept of change and transformation, as does writing, with its bedrock of metaphor, narrative, and its search for language that makes us look afresh at our world. At UrbanWords, our belief is that writers have a real and exciting role to play in regeneration, that they can offer something tangible and unique to the process and that by being involved they can grow and develop their own practice.

UrbanWords has spent the last two years researching and considering the role creative writers can play in the process of regeneration. Our interest has been in examining the unique skills creative writers can bring to the table. We are passionate about the potential for exciting and innovative work, in which writers can work with communities, places, and those driving the change and improvement of places, to facilitate real communication, discover connections, and ultimately contribute to making those places more attractive and desirable places to live, breathe, work and play in.

The scope of UrbanWords' work and this piece of research and thinking is not broad enough to address all the issues of cultural regeneration and the role the creative industries play in the regeneration of places and communities. Our focus is on thinking specifically about writers engaging with particular places and with the people who live and work there. It is not just about writers slotting into the role of public-artist, to place well chosen words in well chosen places, it is about the writer taking on a social role: to question, to listen, to converse and to articulate. Most of all we are interested in well-planned interventions that happen at a time of change.

The driver for this research and thinking was an observation that whilst a spattering of public realm and regeneration projects across the UK have involved writers, the sector is dominated by the visual arts, and literature and creative writing seem peripheral to, if not absent from, the debate. The aim of this site is to begin to put creative writing on the map, for urban design and regeneration professionals, arts professionals and the wider literature world; to open up the debate rather than propose a defined way of working.

We hope you enjoy exploring this web resource, and that it offers food for thought and practical advice on the issues and possibilities of working in this field. Please feel free to get in touch via the blog or email if you have any thoughts, comments, or would like to discuss something in more detail.