Written by: Joe Stafford

Alumnus named as Writer in Residence for 2024 European Capital of Culture

Manchester alumnus David Hartley has been named by Estonian city Tartu as ‘Writer in Residence’ for their time as European Capital of Culture in 2024, and will produce work in celebration of the occasion.

David is a writer, spoken word performer and podcaster based in Manchester with many accolades. With a PhD in Creative Writing from The University of Manchester, David has been writing and self-publishing for over fifteen years. 

David has written single stories and pieces for various magazines and anthologies, and has written four of his own collections of short stories. In the last two years alone, David has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and Oxford Flash Fiction Prize in 2020, and his recent publication ‘Fauna’ from Fly on the Wall Press, was shortlisted in the Best Short Story Collection category of the Saboteur Awards and longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize this year.

David hopes to use his Tartu residency to expand ideas he has been considering recently, such as that of Fauna which he says "drew on my concerns for animal ethics in the contemporary moment as we reckon with our status as human animals in a threatened and precarious ecosystem. I’d love to expand this thinking further to explore how reconceiving humans as animals helps us to confront the dystopia of the climate crisis.”

David characterises his writing as ‘weird fiction’, incorporating various aspects of speculative fiction rather than limiting work to a specific genre. His work typically addresses themes around mythmaking, hauntology, neurodiversity, and veganism.

David co-hosts the Autism Through Cinema Podcast, and is the Cofounder of the ‘Narratives of Neurodiversity Network’.

Tartu in Estonia is a UNESCO City of Literature and has been named the European Capital of Culture 2024. They have decided to use a single writer’s residency to build a piece of work to mark the year.

The theme of this residency is ‘Bring Your Own Utopia’ and will see David Hartley paired with Estonian artist Henri Hütt. They will work together during David’s residency in Tartu and collaborate once David has returned to Manchester. David will then return to Tartu in 2024 to exhibit the collaborative work as part of the Capital of Culture programme and 2024 Prima Vista International Literary Festival ‘Futures Better and Worse’.

David and Henri are in the very early stages of their work already, but they want to start by spending time together in Tartu talking to local people to form the basis of what they create.

I'm completely thrilled to be selected for the Tartu residency. I feel like I'm about to embark on the most thrilling journey of creative discovery in a country I currently know very little about. In these precarious and confusing times, it's fantastic that art, creativity and collaboration are being taken seriously and I greatly look forward to 'building my own utopia' with Estonian partners.

David Hartley

“David is a brilliantly inventive writer and performer, someone as at home in this world as in the alternate realities he so capably conjures in his fiction,” said Professor John McAuliffe of The University of Manchester's Centre for New Writing. “It is an exciting prospect to imagine how he will develop this new multidisciplinary project in Tartu, and what wild new creature will emerge from UNESCO's support for international Creative City collaborations.”

“It’s excellent news that David Hartley has been chosen as the Writer in Residence for Tartu’s 2024 European Capital of Culture celebrations," said  Ivan Wadeson, Executive Director of Manchester City of Literature. "It’s further accolade for David on top of an already impressive list, but David’s selection also acts as an international spotlight of the interesting and unique contemporary talent in Manchester.” 

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