Express yourself

The work of young Haringey writers features in anthology following professional mentoring

The writing participants with the 2021 anthology
Credit: Jennifer Harris

By Sarah Tinsley, company director, Write By You CIC

At the end of July, a group of young writers gathered in The Green Rooms, Wood Green, to celebrate their achievements in the first ever Write By You project, which supports diversity in writing in the borough.

As a teacher who has worked in Haringey for many years, I wanted to give diverse writers an opportunity to explore their creativity, using writing as a way to express themselves. I also wanted to give them an outlet for the frustrations and difficulties they may have encountered as a result of the pandemic.

The project was aimed at female writers aged 12–18 living in Haringey, who are currently underrepresented in the publishing industry. This included those who identify as LGBTQI+, BAME, carers, disabled, or those from low-income households.

With the same voices continually dominating the stories we hear, I hoped that the writers taking part in the project would gain confidence to find their voices. Tottenham in particular, as one of the most diverse areas in London, has many voices that I hope we hear more from in the future.

The group of young writers attended workshops with established writers also resident in the borough. Following the workshops, they were given professional feedback, personal coaching, and their work was then collated into an anthology.

Seeing their work in print was a huge experience for many of the young writers, and the event was filled with excitement as they saw the words they had written in a professional book.

The writers learned about slam poetry from Rakaya Fetuga, a poet-in-residence at The Roundhouse, and about using their personal identity to rewrite myths with Alexandra Sheppard, a local young adult writer. They also talked about the issues they were passionate about with multi-disciplinary writer Elizabeth Chakrabarty, to inspire non-fiction essays.

After our success this year, Write By You will be expanding in 2022. Subject to restrictions, we will be offering in-person workshops next January with six fabulous writers, and offering 20 local writers the opportunity to learn and be inspired from them. The coaching will take place in March and the celebration event will be held in May.

I am so excited to meet the next set of inspirational young people who want to share their stories, learn more about the craft of writing, and receive personal mentoring on their skills.

For more information, head to: writebyyou.org or find us on Twitter @WriteByYou or Facebook www.facebook.com/writebyyouuk

You can buy a copy of the 2021 anthology, featuring a range of fiction, poetry and non-fiction at the All Good Bookshop.

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