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Poetry event will remember former UEA student and Norfolk and Norwich Festival volunteer

PUBLISHED: 16:32 22 May 2018 | UPDATED: 17:30 22 May 2018

UEA MA Poetry students who are presenting the event (I) In Memory of Rebecca McManus at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.
Photo: supplied by Rachel Goodman

UEA MA Poetry students who are presenting the event (I) In Memory of Rebecca McManus at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Photo: supplied by Rachel Goodman

supplied by Rachel Goodman

A promising young poet and former Norfolk and Norwich Festival volunteer is to be remembered at a special literature event this week.

A City of Literature event is being held in memory of Rebecca McManus at the 2018 Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Photo: Norfolk and Norwich FestivalA City of Literature event is being held in memory of Rebecca McManus at the 2018 Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Photo: Norfolk and Norwich Festival

(I) In Memory of Rebecca McManus is to take place on Friday as part of the festival’s City of Literature programme and will see students from the University of East Anglia’s MA in poetry present a collaborative performance of their work.

Miss McManus herself had just finished studying English literature and creative writing at the UEA when she was killed, aged 21, by a speeding driver during an incident in Birmingham in May 2014.

Her parents Gez and Catherine McManus, who will be attending Friday’s event along with Mr McManus’ wife Alison, said they were proud that their daughter was to be remembered at this year’s festival.

In a joint statement, they said: “She volunteered at the Norwich & Norfolk Festival in 2013 and 2014 and revelled in the event, she loved literature, poetry, music and her life in Norwich so no doubt would have found a way to incorporate all this into her career.

UEA MA Poetry students rehearse for (I) In Memory of Rebecca McManus.
Photo: supplied by Writers' Centre NorwichUEA MA Poetry students rehearse for (I) In Memory of Rebecca McManus. Photo: supplied by Writers' Centre Norwich

“As this event is geared towards helping emerging young writers, Rebecca would have loved to have been a part of it. We are therefore so proud to have her name associated with it.”

Clare Lovell, head of operations at the festival, also paid tribute to Ms McManus on behalf of the festival. She said: “Rebecca particularly loved the volunteer role of Spiegel Host, looking after audiences within the unique environment of Salon Perdu where her trademark red beret was her signature style. She was a much loved member of the Spiegel Host team with whom she forged many friendships and she remains sorely missed.”

Eleven of the 16 poets on this year’s MA poetry course will be performing a selection of works on Friday.

MA student Rachel Goodman said while none of the current students had known Miss McManus, they hoped their performance would be a fitting tribute to the talented writer and also to others whose voices were cut short.

UEA MA Poetry students who are presenting the event (I) In Memory of Rebecca McManus at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.
Photo: supplied by Rachel GoodmanUEA MA Poetry students who are presenting the event (I) In Memory of Rebecca McManus at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Photo: supplied by Rachel Goodman

She said: “We have been exploring the idea of self or the letter i within the context of a group and it is a bit of a reflected miror, backwards and forwards.”

Ms Goodman’s fellow students taking part on Friday include Gboyega Odubanjo, Blythe Zarozinia Aimson, Craig Barker, Max Bowden, Anna Cathenka, Cai Draper, Iona May, Jessica O’Brien Rhodes, Ellen Renton and Alice Willitts.

(I) In Memory of Rebecca McManus will take place at 3.30pm on Friday in the Literature Tent in Chapelfield Gardens, Norwich, as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival’s City of Literature programme with Writers’ Centre Norwich.

Tickets £8. To book, call the box office on 01603 766400 or visit www.nnfestival.org.uk

A POEM BY REBECCA MCMANUS

Miss McManus’ poem below will appear in the programme for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival event in her memory:

I wish I could write

something more than a fragment.

I wish I had invented the word ‘fragment’.

I wish I was making a

witty, observant, legitimate point and

I wish I could handle sarcasm.

Even idealism has me thrown,

because surely to know your ideal,

you’ve denied some ruthless facts?

A book of Miss McManus’ poetry - called A Book of Fragments and Dreams - has also been published by Unthank Books.

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