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STORY 2009, Bristol

How narrative gives form to human life


Thursday 29 October 2009


7pm - 10pm


Coexist, Second Floor, Hamilton House, 80 Stokes Croft, Bristol, BS1 3QY, United Kingdom

Illustration: Richard Reed

Scroll down to see photos and comments from participants.

This event examined one of the fundamental and key elements to human existence.

From ancient epic poems to modern day movies, story underpins the whole of life and though there have been great societies throughout history that did not use the wheel, there have been none that did not tell stories.

Or to quote the great American literary critic Kenneth Burke, stories are "equipment for living" - and this discussion will explore the general power of story-telling beyond just the narrative elements of literature, film, and television.

On The Panel We Had


Rachael Kiddey (aka "Marmite") is a freelance journalist and contemporary archaeologist, professions more akin than they might at first sound. Good journalism and archaeology have narrative at their heart; they both involve digging about in unlikely places for evidence and being unafraid of reporting ‘gaps’.

Alongside producing documentaries for BBC Radio 3 and 4, Rachael is currently working with a team of street homeless colleagues to ‘map’ homeless heritage in Stokes Croft. She is interested in how heritage can be used to engage traditionally marginalised people and believes public space is the foundation of true democracy. 

With winter approaching Marmite regrets the cavalier attitude she recently took to home-ownership. She lives in Bristol with no central heating, a lurcher called Joey and a mongrel called Street.

Kevan Manwaring is an author, publisher, storyteller, performance poet and teacher. He has been performing his poetry and stories for more than a decade around England and abroad. In 1998 he was awarded the Bardic Chair of Caer Badon (Bath) for an epic poem based on the founder of the city, Bladud. With the Fire Springs storytellers group he has co-created and performed in several events. He runs creative-writing and performance skills workshops for all ages and teaches creative writing for the Open University & Imperial College, London. He is also the co-host of the Bath Writers Workshop and has his own publishing company called Awen Publications. He is the author of numerous books, including "The Bardic Handbook: The Complete Manual for the 21st Century Bard."

John Kirwan has a background in business life combined with a gluttony for philosophy. Studying for two degrees in the subject developed John’s enjoyment for that particular vice which he has since tried to turn into a virtue by applying its insights to the world of business. After 24 years with the Lloyds Banking Group where, amongst a variety of roles, he was Service Management Director in Business Banking, and having completed his MBA, John left a couple of years ago to become a business mentor with Strategic Planning Solutions (SPS). John helps all kinds of businesses - and his four young children – create narratives of purpose, meaning and success, and speaks both here and overseas on subjects such as Leadership, Personal Efficacy, and Human Responses to Change. His book, Good Small Business Planning Guide: How to Make a Successful Business Journey has just been published by A&C Black.

Dr Daniel Doherty lectures at the University of Bristol School of Management, where he takes a special interest in the use of narrative inquiry as a means of opening up individual and organisational reflective inquiry. Associated with this, he is interested in the deconstruction of narratives and discourses to reveal power dynamics in social systems.

The Entertainment Was

Live music from Dirk Landish and his band, recently born out of the Bristol folk scene, who have been transfixing audiences with twisted tunes and stories of love, lust and revenge. Dirk, having recently returned from adventures in other countries, reunited with his long time musical partner Jimvinsable (Bass). The result was "somewhere between Tom Waits and Rage Against the Machine unplugged".

Performance poetry from Brendan Bayew.


A Big Thank You To

Imogen Hopkins for the photography and for being an extraordinarily helpful general dogsbody, Jamie and Oli of Coexist for setting up the room, sorting out the lights, providing the food, hosting the event... you name it really, Chris Daly of System 757 for only charging half price for the sound, SuperMegaActionPlus for the video animation, and JR Ryan for the original concept.


"I came with a friend of mine and We both really enjoyed it. I liked very much the mixture of ideas, discussion, food and drink and felt it was chaired really well."

Chris(tine) Banks, Counsellor and Poet


"I thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought it was a very culturally exciting way of looking at things with a mixture of different people from different backgrounds discussing topical issues. Could be of spiritual, economic or spiritual significance."

James Short, Partner, Strategic Planning Solutions (SPS)







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