BIG THINGS

So much seems to have happened since I last came on here it feels like I’ve forgotten big chunks of great things and stuff that I really should be talking about. If you’re on Twitter or Insta you can check in to what’s happening with me in sort of real time.

A few highlights…

Absolutely thrilled to bits that two Hive writers, Lauren Hollingsworth-Smith, and Ciah White did so well in the Northern Writers Awards. They’re both terrific writers and very brilliant people and I’m over the moon Ciah won, and Lauren was Highly Commended, and both thoroughly deserved it.

I was invited up to Hull’s Big Malarkey Festival with First Story to run a couple of workshops and to compere some readings from young people in First Story’s programme, and it was one of the best things I’ve done all year. The festival is absolutely wondrous – and it’s HUGE! Workshops aside, which were terrific fun (and forgetting getting stuck on a train for an extra forty minutes on the hottest June day on record) the readings were just brilliant. And to top it all we found out that the brilliant and very ace Leah O’Connor, from Melior Community Academy, was a WOMEN OF WORDS competition winner with one of the most affecting poems I’ve seen from a young person. The shortlist was bursting with quality (two other Melior writers were on it too) and there was plenty of really amazing stuff that I know didn’t get anywhere (judging’s so difficult and such a personal thing) but I was super pleased to see Leah winning. Here’s her poem…

Leah O’Connor (13 years old)

I am from North Lincolnshire.

I feel happy.

I am wishing my cousin Hannah was here

because we were

basically sisters.

I am a practising gymnast.

I hate death.

I love sunflower by Ed Sheeran because it is my cousin’s funeral song.

Wow.

I think we were comparing First Story Tees….

Talking of judging, I had the agonising job of picking a winner (and runners up) from the Streetcake Experimental Writing Prize. Winner’s will be announced in September at an event in Whitechapel and I can’t wait. It is such a difficult job picking one winner from a quality shortlist and, while I love the winning piece, I loved so many of the others too and it’s an important thing to remember that, though they might not have won (it was SO tight) it’s just my opinion. Any one of the shortlisted stories would have made a very worthy winner. You know, if I asked you to list your top five, ten, even fifty books or films, I can guarantee there’ll be some amazing work you’d leave off – I wouldn’t have War and Peace or Emma in there – doesn’t mean they’re rubbish. So if you do find yourself not winning things, take heart: neither would Austen.

National Writing Day also happened and that was a wonderful thing too. I was in Leeds (at Leeds West Academy) for that, and then in Bradford (At Belle Vue) doing my best to not get in the way of the wonderful Khadijah Ibrahim. And it was a pretty amazing thing to be a part of something that was trending #1 worldwide.

And I think this is probably an appropriate time to give love to all the people who make things like this happen. Us writers get the easy job – we get to go in and do cool stuff and look amazing (or at least try) but there is so much work that has to happen to make these things happen. Teachers, librarians, people giving up their time and genuinely working tirelessly at it for months. I’ll not name them but they know who they are and they are very, very appreciated. Thank you.

There is more – much more, and I’ll talk about those things in greater detail soon (I’m aware this post is getting pretty long).

More soon…

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