READ/WRITE SOUTH WEST CELEBRATION REPORT & ANTHOLOGY
READ/WRITE SOUTH WEST CELEBRATION REPORT
WELCOME in their local area as well as building their own work
In Read/Write South West we saw a need to support libraries at a local level in much more practical ways.
and audiences. The Read/Write project has enabled us to bring these elements together, providing workshops and knowledge sharing to over 80 writers, embedding skills and experience which has led to new relationships with local libraries in ways which will continue to bear fruit into the future.
About Read/Write South West 2-3
One of the most satisfying outcomes to this project is our Young Writer Network through which we are
I am delighted to introduce the Read/ Write South West Celebration Report. At a time when everyone involved in the literature sector, and particularly Library Services, are facing unprecedented pressures on their time and resources, this project has provided a fantastic opportunity to highlight the ways in which local partnerships and collaborations can bring together resources, writers and communities to extend the benefits and value libraries are able to offer the people and communities they serve.
able to work with libraries to bring forward the next
Literature Works is a charity which raises money to
As the case studies you’ll see here testify, when
ensure that as many people as possible can benefit
libraries are able to collaborate creatively with local
from reading and writing. We rely on private donations,
partner organisations who share their passion for and
commercial sponsorship and public fundraising
commitment to the place they live in, then libraries can
to support the work you’ll see here, and so fully
truly take their place as the heart of the community and
appreciate the difficulties of the financial climate. In
lives can be transformed. This project has relied on the
Read/Write South West we saw a need to support
tireless work of our partner libraries and organisations,
libraries at a local level in much more practical ways.
the writers involved and the sheer exuberance of the
generation of exciting writing talent by providing a safe space, an expert writer and an expert librarian to help them gain access to the world of book and words backed up by a whole range of library services and free internet access! We’ll be extending our successful Young Writers Network to include other community groups and organisations who can offer the space and resources to help us deliver excellent work with young writers in their local communities, and Literature Works will continue to invest in libraries, supporting as many people as possible to gain the social benefits which creative writing and reading bring.
people who took part, so now I’ll happily hand over to The feedback we received from libraries told us that
them and let them tell you about it in their own words.
staff no longer have as much time to dedicate to working with individual groups and younger library members in particular rarely had opportunities to be guided through the full extent of library services. The feedback from professional writers suggested they would love to share their expertise and stories, particularly in ways which help them sustain a living
Tracey Guiry CEO Literature Works 1
READ/WRITE SOUTH WEST CELEBRATION REPORT
ABOUT READ/WRITE SOUTH WEST Read/Write South West is a Literature Works project, funded by Big Lottery. Literature Works is a registered charity and is the South West’s Literature Development Agency, core funded by Arts Council England.
The project included long-term residencies, where
This tailored mix of inclusive project work and targeted
The Read/Write South West project officially ended
writers worked with specific groups including
approaches made the project incredibly complex,
on 25th May 2013, but Literature Works will continue
traveller children, young carers and children in
and there was more than one tense moment! But the
to invest in high quality literature projects. The
care, refugee children and people with mental and
overarching outcome has been an investment of over
relationships and experiences we have all taken away
£80,000 in library reading and writing groups during
from this project will enable us to develop similar
2012/13, and a legacy which includes the Literature
work, and we are already extending our Young Writer
We have worked in libraries, primary and secondary
Works’ Young Writer Network, online resource
Network to embrace other community groups and
schools, tertiary colleges, care homes and prisons.
packs, and the ‘Writer Directory’ which has built up a
organisations who want to help us deliver Young
database of over 80 South West based writers who
Writer Groups and support the talent of the future.
are experienced at working in community contexts,
To find out more about the work of Literature Works,
backed up by training days, seminars and open
or to help us achieve our ambition of ‘literature for
sessions for readers and writers of all kinds.
everyone’ please check out our website and join our
Read/Write South West is a partnership with nine
We have delivered sessions on everything to do with
Library services throughout the region. It began in
literature, from poetry readings and workshops, to
March 2012 following an eight month consultation
novelists talking about their work, to storytelling
process with the libraries to establish their needs
sessions and reading group talks.
and challenges. The main aim of the project was to build up collaborations and understanding
Our library reader and writer days gathered larger
between libraries and the local communities they
groups of people together to learn what services
serve, so that people of all ages engaged more
their library can provide.
fully with the complete scope of services and support a local library can offer. This project has included 19 different partner
newsletter. And, of course, if you think you could devote some time to raising money for a Young Writer Group in your local area, we’d love to hear from you! From the writers and readers across the South West, Thank you!
organisations, dozens of librarians and teachers, over 80 South West based writers, and over 4,000 members of the public, ranging in age from 6 to 90!
SOUTH GLOUCESTERSHIRE TRAVELLERS PROJECT WITH HOLY FAMILY CATHOLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL, PATCHWAY, AS PART OF A RESIDENCY PROJECT AT PATCHWAY IN PARTNERSHIP WITH SOUTH GLOUCESTERSHIRE ARTS AND LIBRARIES SERVICE & WRITER TOBY HULSE THE PROJECT
A class of 24 Year Four pupils with a high proportion of travellers of Irish heritage and Black and Minority Ethnic children
“It was brilliant”
In ten half-day sessions using the school/ community library, the whole class wrote a piece of poetry for performance, based on the theme of ‘rivers’ Showcased in the school library and at a school assembly to fellow pupils, staff, parents, grandparents and carers
“It’s fantastic to see children and their parents who have never visited the library before!” THE LIBRARIAN
“The children gained an enormous amount from this project and we will definitely be working with the writer again. It was fantastic” THE TEACHER
READ/WRITE SOUTH WEST CELEBRATION REPORT
CASE STUDY ONE CASE STUDY TWO
READ/WRITE SOUTH WEST CELEBRATION REPORT
DORSET RESIDENCY IN PARTNERSHIP WITH DORSET LIBRARIES AND BRIDPORT ARTS CENTRE’S OPEN BOOK FESTIVAL WITH WRITERS ROSIE JACKSON, CHRIS REDMOND AND LIZ BROWNLEE FEEDBACK
Focal point of local book festival aimed at bringing books and writing to new audiences
“I felt I was encouraging a writing community…I was reminded of the power of writing to stimulate, inspire, support and heal…it hugely boosted my own confidence as a writer and facilitator”
Readings and workshops with primary and secondary pupils, adult writers and adults with mental health and confidence problems Short story workshop at library One-to-one surgeries at library Performance with primary children Workshops for adults with mental health and confidence issues in partnership with local charity ‘rethink’
“This was an enormous success. the development of the children’s use of language, and performance skills was very rapid!”
Poetry and performance workshops and performance with teenagers
“The teacher and the head were involved in all aspects of the project”
ROSIE JACKSON, WRITER
“First time ever working with a writer – very enjoyable and illuminating” ADULT STUDENT
“Rosie is a great tutor!” ADULT STUDENT
“Liz Brownlee was wonderful – the children were gripped throughout” PRIMARY SCHOOL TEACHER
“Working with Chris has really improved my confidence in performing and in my writing skills” SECONDARY STUDENT
“My son came home every night and said this was the best thing he’d ever done at school…”
“The workshops with people with mental health issues especially were a great addition to the festival”
DIRECTOR, BRIDPORT ARTS CENTRE
“I was struck by the maturity of the piece…it was quite simply beautiful”
“Great to share work in a safe and friendly place”
SOUTH GLOUCESTERSHIRE ARTS OFFICER
READ/WRITE SOUTH WEST WRITER BABS HORTON THE PROJECT
Young Writers’ Squad based at Plymstock Library, Plymouth
“I really love this group… I’ve accomplished more than I ever expected” STUDENT
Run by experienced, Plymouth-based writer Babs Horton
“An opportunity to learn and share… it is also great fun and I really enjoy It” STUDENT
Hugely popular, with up to 24 young people taking part aged 12–16, including some with disabilities
“It’s really helped me with my English assessments too” STUDENT
“The enthusiasm and energy of the group has been inspirational… an extraordinary and uplifting experience… young people from very different backgrounds have engaged with each other, forged friendships and grown in confidence both socially and in their writing” BABS HORTON, WRITER
“Everyone is enjoying this project … we have some very, very keen young people in the group”
CASE STUDY THREE CASE STUDY FOUR
READ/WRITE SOUTH WEST CELEBRATION REPORT
READ/WRITE SOUTH WEST CELEBRATION REPORT
PLYMOUTH MUSEUM WORD MARATHON PROJECT RUN BY WRITER KATE CAMPBELL IN PARTNERSHIP WITH PLYMOUTH CITY MUSEUM, CO-FUNDED BY ARTS COUNCIL ENGLAND THE PROJECT
Workshops using the Museum’s objects and exhibitions as a stimulus for writing
“Bad dreams of writing/splintered by haiku workshop/invigorating” YOUNG STUDENT
Working with many different groups including home educators, alzheimers sufferers, residential homes, race equality council, city college health & social care students, young people from deprived areas of Plymouth and many more!
“Cyrus is a boy/a precociously young boy/ he loves a haiku” YOUNG STUDENT
“It was great fun… developed my writing… inspirational” STUDENT AGED 59
Working with hundreds of people from 6 to 90+
“Really enjoyed this” STUDENT AGED 78
“It improved my reading and writing… I felt much more confident… it helped me talk to other people” SECONDARY STUDENT
“Very good… want it to keep going for a long time” STUDENT AGED 25
“This creative writing project is proving a hit with local youngsters!”
“It gave confidence in their opinions and a sense of purpose”
PLYMOUTH EVENING HERALD NEWSPAPER
PRE-SCHOOL GROUP TUTOR
READ/WRITE SOUTH WEST WRITER SARA-JANE ARBURY THE PROJECT
SARA-JANE ARBURY is a writer based in Gloucestershire. She has a wide range of experience of working on community-based projects
Sara-Jane made the following comments and observations about working with Read/Write South West on these projects:
Sara-Jane worked with Read/Write South West on three different projects; storytelling for Year 7’s at Patchway College, South Gloucestershire; a residency with primary and secondary school students, including young carers/ young people in care, in Gloucestershire, and in Bristol with Year 5’s, mainly from Asian backgrounds
“I worked with a lot of young people – and teachers – who had never worked with a writer before, and a great many of them said how brilliant it was to do so, and how it helped both the learning AND teaching process” “I also worked with some excellent library staff, who also said they had learned a lot from the project” “One parent was delighted that her son, who had never read much before now loves books, and has joined the local library!”
CASE STUDY FIVE
READ/WRITE SOUTH WEST CELEBRATION REPORT
ANTHOLOGY The Writer Squads funded by the Read/Write South West project have given dozens of talented young people across the South West region a unique opportunity to spend quality time with a professional writer, to learn about and feel comfortable in their local library, to improve their reading, writing and communication skills, and to develop their social skills and potential for the future by interacting with, and sharing their work with both their peers and with supportive and interested adults. To celebrate the achievements of this part of the project, we’re anthologising some of their work here. We hope you enjoy it!
“Another teacher said that she was amazed at how pupils who were normally very shy and almost silent in class had opened up and become visibly more confident in such a short space of time”
“Working on this project has been extremely rewarding and great fun” SARA-JANE ARBURY
The Mighty Tree
Green, brown, yellow
The snowdrops tell of hard times past
When I look up
The colours of nature in the plants
They huddle together in little patches
These are the colours of the mighty tree.
To protect themselves from the chilling wind
In the shadows
They hide, waiting to emerge in occasional spells of sun
Gaze cast down as if they can’t face
What stands above them
Quiet and unnoticed, they lie
Soon they will be gone, until a new spring arises.
It curves and twists and goes everywhere where I sit in the boughs of the mighty tree
The day me and my twin felt the pain!
The air is sweet in my mouth
My family and I were making our way through
a graveyard, past a rundown, deserted, ruined,
Leaves, branches, trunks
haunted-looking house, to get to where we had
A flutter of feathers, a bundle of brown lands near
parked our car. Me and my twin Harriet were This is the mighty tree
like flying Hannah
shaking in fear at the sight of the figure in the
window. We looked at each other and thought Rian
that we had been bitten by someone or something
and we could see a figure behind a stick-like tree.
I curl up tight into a ball. I feel safe this way. My
If someone lived in it they sure had a problem I
head under the covers, my breath warming the
thought to myself.
air. The smell of my room makes me cough, it’s
When we arrived at our car we got in and drove off at the speed of lightning – well that’s what it felt like anyway. As usual sisters being sisters we have a fight now and again. So that’s what we did: we started messing about. Obviously that’s when it happened! First our parents were telling us off, the next thing you know you’re in a big fire. That’s when you’re DEAD! If anyone had experienced such a painful death it was me. A person going past said, ‘’I couldn’t believe my eyes. A lorry was coming from one direction, the person in the car wasn’t looking where they were going, and BOOM. The oil that the lorry was carrying set on fire and that was that,’’ explained the lady terrified. That’s how I and my twin sister became zombies. I’m really sad that my parents died as it wasn’t their fault, it was ours. If you’re watching us right now even though we look revolting we’re really sorry! You should know that come midnight we turn into Zombies.
mouldy and musty. My owners can’t shout at me from here. They moan about the standard of my
I see a wonderful glittery sea-green pool with little
work. It’s never good enough. I never chose this
dotted islands all around it. It shines out in front of
life, I never asked for it. It’s their fault. Whoever they
every planet and star. Its sparkle makes the universe
are. The taste of dry air burns my raw throat. My
shine. It had soft fluffy bubbles gliding around the
skin, rough as ever, scrapes against the scratchy
surface and a soft baby-blue sky. I have seen little
bed covers. I am a boulder, stopping anyone from
aliens wander around the islands and I wonder if
getting past me. I block the way. It could be the
they’ve ever seen me.
exit. It could be the entrance. It could be the only way out. Whatever it is or wherever it goes I am the
defence. I am the one who gets in the way. The one who is just there because. Because no one knows why. They can’t finish the sentence. Can’t ever tell me the answer. I don’t know why they chose to do it. Why me? But all I ever hear is “IT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH”, “YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH”.
If a star exploded above you in the sky, what would it be like?
So I curl into a ball. A tight ball. And block off the outside world. No one can get me here.
Giant gunpowder BOOM
Asteroids. OW!!! Ears hurt. Lian
The planet was expanding at a phenomenal speed.
I woke up. It was cold – snow was throwing itself
Bits of debris were flying, zooming past. You watch
from the black stony sky. I went downstairs hurriedly
for a second, then a thought comes to your mind.
lighting the Rayburn – ‘Snap, Crackle, Pop!’ It lit
The solid black of the deep stretches endlessly
As earth was close by, if the rocks collided the race
with amazing speed and warmth sprang out into my
below me. Sunlight sparkles form the surface above
would be wiped out. Soon a massive rock came into
watching eyes. Slowly, coldly, I walked through to
me. Little silver fish go swimming past me, leaving
Earth’s orbit, gathering speed. Jade had to stop it
every other room and lit the heart-warming hearths.
a trail of stirred up seawater. They flicker past, their
but there was no oxygen; her strength was fading
Despite the deathly cold, I walked outside and
fast. She struggled and tried not to lose the fight.
stacked a basket with wood and another with coal.
towards earth. Once close enough, she pushed the
Once inside I sat on the rug in front of the frolicking
I blow out my sticky net. Oblivious plankton swim to
colliding rock out of the orbit but was too weak to
fire holding my chubby red face close to the heat.
their doom as I suck them back in.
save herself. She plummeted to the ground. Nothing
My brothers and parents came down to join me.
baked beans boiling
shiny scales reflecting into my eyes. Bubbles leave a shiny trail behind them.
Suddenly a rock collided with Jane, pushing her
but black. Chloe
Halloween From caves at dusk the black bats fly like leather flitting through the sky. As darkness falls, they dart and flap; with sonar skills who needs a map? As Jack o lanterns light the night they give the witches quite a fright but squashy soup and pumpkin pie are warm and good for us to try. Pointed hats and whizzing brooms, witches fly across the moon. Let cauldrons spit their sparking smells
on the fire. We knew we’d have to leave the dancing, red flames
Scratchy rope suddenly envelops me. I am pulled up towards the light as I give a mournful wail.
soon and get to our daily jobs. I work as a servant girl
at a manor house and get paid five shillings a week.
An enormous hunting ship greets me as I burst
The rest of my family also work here. I take one,
through the surface, giving a huge splash. A man is
long, last look at the steaming, cosy, lively fire.
around the fire.
hauling at the thick rope on a large contraption.
I reluctantly tear my eyes and self away from the
Red and yellow, orange too,
Our eyes meet.
warmth. I want to come back but I know I can’t.
burning bright for me and you.
He lets go. I fall with a tidal wave back to the sea.
Well, not today anyway. Oh, I do so love fires. Warm and glowing, bellows blowing Becky
I am a blue whale.
cinders dancing, in the fire
Wet wood’s hissing, sparks are kissing. Roaring, blazing, it’s a fire.
Cinderford YWS group
Dew drop, sprinkle, shower and rain; puddle, pond and stream; river, lake and oceans deep;
as ragged hags cast magic spells.
rush around again.
When creepy cats lurk in the dark,
Froth and spit, squish and spray,
owls hoot and foxes bark and all souls fear this spooky scene, it’s definitely HALLOWEEN!
trickle, drip and splash; foam and boil and spill and flood; swim and sail and play. Cinderford YWS group
Poppy, Eve, Alice and Joseph
The water glistened a green shimmering glisten.
I sat upright, fear smoothly running through
Dragonflies hovered over the vast expanse of the
Falling slowly like whispers
my body like silk. I didn’t want to move, I just
pond like stars on a clear night sky. Willow trees
Ice in my hair
couldn’t help myself. He told me to. I got up
wept dew drops from their elegant branches. The
and stood next to my bed. He whispered in my
breeze filled my lungs with the very essence of
ear sending chills down my spine. His voice was
nature. The sun a shimmering orb in the glassy
The world is grey
like a beautiful nightmare. I didn’t want to listen
reflection of the pond. The contra flow of traffic
Because that’s what white and cities make
to him, but when he wasn’t talking to me, I was
buzzing with life at the corner of the landscape. The
silence was so loud it hurt to listen to the calming hush of Mother Nature. The lush grass under my feet was like a velvet carpet luring me to a swim. Like a hungry cheetah I ran. Like a bird I soared through the overall feeling of euphoria in the pond had planted in my soul. If only I had taken the time to judge the depth of the lake I would not be here in a smelly,
A flurry, a rebound The snow a little thicker on the ground
And softly, so softly
Tied up inside
The silence surrounds me
Bundled so small you can only see them with a microscope
Peace in isolation
The lens of your page
I walk in the woods
A close-pressed world
Blowing them up to full size
Sounds flutter down to join the leaves
Flowing out unaided from their world to mine
Stepping on eggshells
Shocked by what I see
My feet sink deep
Cities grow, fall, burn
Lost in the quiet
People laugh, people cry
Calm and beautiful
A menagerie enters stage right
And exits stage left
pulls you into the web
A match flares
Twitter is a tiny little critter
The darkness rolled back
With the trolls being bitter.
Words written on the walls
Youtube is the main video site
Hidden until now
dirty and disgusting hospital with a cast around my neck. Sam
Where will tech take us next? Where will tech take us next Facebook is a hook grabs you and
although the spam people bite Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia
And all the while the pen, the pen
Full of facts some real and some fake
Races alone across the page
Amazon is an endless shop
I watch, helpless
With prices to make your wallet pop
pulled into a black hole and swallowed in misery. His voice was my drug. I walked over to the old wooden drawer carved with Victorian patterns, and pulled out the metal shiny blade. Certainly something a magpie would have wanted. I have done this so many times, he’s told me to! But every time, he saves me. Only to put me through this misery once more. I lifted the knife to my chest and plunged it deep into my heart; creating another hole. I could feel myself struggling to breathe. My lungs felt knotted and dried out. I started to jolt uncontrollably as my vision began to fade. That’s when I saw him. That face I knew oh-so-well, yet not at all. A booming laugh echoed around the old dusty room. I suddenly realised. How long have I been here? A voice interrupted my thoughts. The same voice I heard every day, every night. Except this time, it was full of hatred and disgust. “I’m not saving you anymore, Bo.” Those words rattled in my skull, even after I was gone. Elsie
The magic unfolds There is no end to the words Great lakes and pools on the page The pen is infinite Unstoppable Even if I wanted to. Tabitha
Striving for Perfection
Her heavy breathing was clearly audible in the stone
They pull against the chain they think they have me
prison. Dank and dirty floors caressed her back,
leashed with, but I’m not so easily trapped.
relieving her from the day’s toils. Etchings in her skin burned as moonlight streamed through gaps in
The three boys dressed as men cackle at each other,
the barred window. Clanking chains rubbed against
laughing at their prey. I smile.
the raw wounds on her ankle, adding to the blood
I’m not the one who’s prey.
smattering the floor. Then she heard the footsteps. They had decided what to do.
There are three of them, two on the end of the chain, one in a cap, the other in a Just Do It jumper.
He stood at the window, watching the scene before him. The sprawling lawn held a sea of black and white. The mourners came in tidal waves, coming to appease the greatness of The Eldest. “Great in life,
“What you been smoking?!” Max guffaws. Their holds
even greater in death.”
on the chain loosen as they laugh.
He muttered bitterly, turning away, head down and
“It’s just a big dog,” Cap Boy says dismissively.
shoulders hunched. His mother had certainly left a large impression. He looked down at his suit, sighing as he picked at the fabric. The expensive clothing could have bought thousands of sought after flowers. Looking back towards the mourners, he noticed that each had brought a more elaborate gift than the last, showing their love and appreciation. As a keeper of antiques, his mother prided herself on having all possible makes of all possible technology; and yet, there were more bizarre and extravagant contraptions in the fields than had ever graced the halls of his
Cap Boy cackles as his feet slide over the grainy gravel And with a loud scream he stormed back inside, leaving thousands of shocked faces in his wake. Closing the doors behind him, he slowly slid to the floor, cradling his head in his hands. She huddled against the wall below the window, shrouding her face in darkness. From her position anyone who stepped through the door would be bathed in light, but would be unable to see any expression that crossed her face.
making a grinding sound like crunching bones. “Make a nice coat!” Just Do It grins. They laugh while the third in the trio shuffles nervously in front of them, holding a gun in his shaking hands. A part of him knows what I am. Who I am. And it’s scared him senseless.
mother’s house. The stampede of people slowly
As the ring of moving bolts echoed through the cell,
made their way towards the giant wooden doors. He
she cowered further into the wall. The ominous
groaned at the tyre tracks being left by the old Model
clanging signalled the imminent arrival of The Mace.
“Pete, just shoot it,” cries the boy in the rather fitting
T’s and various sports cars; his prized gardens were
The large, imposing hood obscured the scar riddled
Just Do It jumper.
going to ruin.
face she knew to be there. His large boots produced
He stormed down the many levels of stairs and threw open the front doors, making the mass stop. “That is it!” he screeched, flapping his hands dramatically, “I don’t care if she is dead, it does not warrant the destruction of my life’s work!”
billowing dust clouds as he padded into the cell. His towering frame filled the small expanse of a room as he loomed closer. He flung his hood back and stalked towards her. The moonlight caught the dents in his face, casting eerie shadows against the pale shape that was his head. His blackened and chipped teeth showed through his shiny flesh. And before he had even reached for his infamous tool, she had started to scream.
Pete steps closer, wiping sweat off his brow.
I laugh, the sound coming out as a broken growl through vocal chords not made for laughing. Oh, I’m more than that. And I think it’s time I show you. I stalk forwards, Pete’s gun clattering as it hits the floor, falling from his slack grip. “Pete, shoot it!” Max cries in horror still desperately clutching the chain. I bite through the cursed leash, shattering it between my teeth leaving metal shards that rattle like ice cubes against my teeth. They run. I pounce and, soon, the metallic taste of the chain is replaced by the taste of their blood and fear as I reduce them to an unidentifiable stain on the ground that shines in the lamplight. All that remains of the boys is a
“Shut it, Max,” he snaps back.
cap, gun, a Just Do It jumper and clumps of their flesh.
I slacken on the chain, causing Cap Boy and Max to
I shift and watch the magic play over my form in the
straighten and adjust their hold.
pool of blood, my skin rippling back to that of a man with my father’s dark hair and eyes.
“That thing ain’t right man. Look at its eyes, they’re smart”
Only fools mess with the Devil`s son.
Cap Boy and Max laugh as Pete’s cheeks redden.
And they only do it once.
The lights of the car ahead blinded us for a
It was lashing it down with rain, clouds filling the sky
As I lay on the grass in this secret meadow I feel
second as it shot by. Mum’s hair was silhouetted
as though it was an end to happiness. Forever. I was
alive. I love smoothing the grass and running it
momentarily against the window as headlights flew
just about to talk to my Mum, when all of a sudden
though my fingers, I know I’m safe here as I have
past, carrying cars on their backs.
she slammed on the brakes.
my dog beside me and now and then she glances
Today I discovered the meaning of my Grandad’s
at me and nudges me with her cold wet nose, I favourite saying, “Go where the road takes you”. The curves and bends of the road led us instead of Mum’s
“What the…?” I began. And then I saw him. The boy
steady hand on the wheel. A journey of chance.
with the baby blue eyes. The boy that stole my heart.
I turned my gaze to the window. A full moon. Even in
He was wearing a black leather hoodie and jeans
the dark I could see birds covering huge patches of
that looked as though they belonged to his dad.
midnight sky; each one with the moon on their wings.
The hood of his jacket was pulled right up, over his hair and most of his eyes. But I saw them. A flash of
“Hungry Em? I’ve got food in my handbag, if you want.” Mum’s eye caught mine in the rear-view mirror.
lightning illuminated his eyes. His baby blue eyes. “Something? Or someone?” He was standing just a metre in front of us – soaked
“No thanks, I’m not hungry.”
I didn’t reply, so she carried as if she’d never
to the skin but standing there in the rain. His hands
expected an answer.
were in his pocketes, clenched in fists. His mouth a
“Alright darling, it’s there if you want.” “We’re going home tonight and you’re going to I didn’t waste breath replying, I wasn’t into talking
school on Monday. End of.”
tonight. Mum risked a few worried glances at me, thinking I didn’t notice.
I didn’t have the heart or energy to argue any more after everything she’d done for me. So I just nodded.
“Go on Mum, you obviously have something to say. Come on then, tell me it’s time to go home. I know
We hardly spoke on the journey back. I think Mum
you want to. But I don’t. Not now, tomorrow or the
guessed I wasn’t in the mood. She made a point of
next day. I’m not ready.”
turning on the radio and humming away to herself;
straight line, droplets touching his lips.
like the bad guy for doing the right thing.
soaring, screeching high up above. I hear the sound of the wood pecker on the big old oak. I hear baby ducklings calling out for their mother. That’s one thing I haven’t got. I’ve got a step mum. Dad says I have to call her Mum, but to me she is just a step monster. I miss Mum. The only reason I come up here to this secret meadow as Mum called it, is to escape the step monster and forget about reality and think about the beautiful memories me and Mum made. As I sit up to watch the sunset slowly into the horizon, I sit quietly and watch the swans nestle down together in their warm nest on the bank, so elegantly. The heron tucks his head in
But then I blinked. I should never have blinked.
so delicately under his wing and carefully lifts one
Because when I opened my eyes after a millisecond,
he was gone. No trace of him left. “Stupid boy. What does he think he’s doing?” Mum snapped. “Um, er, er…”
I see the deer frantically leaping to get to their mates, their antlers bashing into every tree. I turn to lie on my belly and watch the hedgehogs wake up and snuffle in the undergrowth, little fox cubs come bounding out of their den, rolling
trying to get in my good books. Typical Mum, feeling “Honey, you have to go back sometime. You can’t just
feel her panting down my arm. I see the geese
around, stumbling over their brothers and sisters and themselves.
run away when things get tough. Life isn’t made with escape routes, sometimes you just have to face up to
But home? There, everything was wrong.
things. It might seem like the end of the world now
Sometimes, I like to think I’d go back to find him on
It starts to get cold but it doesn’t bother me;
my doorstep, telling me he loved me and I’d forget
I am used to the cold.
he’d ever broken my heart. Ha, Fat chance. I like coming up here but I never have told anyone
“But it isn’t and some day, I’ll understand. Yeah I know, thanks for the reminder. But where’s the harm in avoiding something for awhile?”
where it is. Dad doesn’t even know as Mum used to say that we were just going for a walk. We would spend hours here, on the rope swing and feeding the ducks. There is only one other person who know where this place is and how to get in and that’s Maggie. And her dog Skip. Skip is a Jack Russell terrier. He’s a dirty white with one big black spot on his eye and back, the rest of his spots are brown. Maggie helped me make a bench when Mum passed away. With a memory plaque. This is mine and Mum’s place. When I’m here I feel free.
A Lonely Crow
I saw them come with their parents and dungarees. They were here to enjoy the freedom of fresh air, giggling at worms and childish jokes. Their mothers
The garden was wildly overgrown, with unwelcome
watched with a relaxed smile, wishing they could
weeds sprouting everywhere you looked, so the young
always stay this age. The little girl swung me unsurely
boy on the old swing did not look out of place there.
of the clouds; the little boy as fierce as someone
His hair was a mad fiery red, long and very knotted.
who hadn’t yet suffered.
You could barely see his nose, and no one had seen his eyes for years. It was a pity because they were certainly
I saw them come after school, full of grazed knees
the best bit of him. They were a bright crystal blue;
and scruffiness. The nostalgically bright jumpers
always appearing to look right through you. His clothes
once worn with pride were unravelled, tugged at in
would be better described as rags, and as for his shoes,
the last few moments of irritation before lunch and
well he didn’t have any. His poor feet were filthy, and
playtime. He joked as they swung on me in unison
rubbed almost raw.
that they were married, oblivious to her blushes. They were as close as always. I was their favourite
This small boy went by the name of Crow. No one knew
place of all time, ever ever ever.
his real name, in fact they had never asked. No one dared to speak to him at all, and that was the way he
To everyone else, I looked like your normal piece
liked it. He was Crow, and he didn’t need anyone else.
of apparatus. So expected, I blend into the park
He never had. He didn’t remember having parents and
landscape, only noticed on a second look. But
They met me and each other most days, and they
to them, I was magical. I could transport them
certainly never any friends. His past was forgotten, never
were taller, mature every time. Brown envelopes
to the clouds and back, in under five seconds. A
to be remembered. His future was to be lived, not to be
were strangers to their meetings once, and a
brave scream, and... WHHOOOSSSH! You’re flying!
imagined. Those were two of the rules that he lived by.
joy-bomb exploded when they were opened.
And for that brief moment, they were completely
He had only one other. Never be emotional. That was
Universities suddenly burst open, brimming with
happy, worries on the horizon. A less than graceful
his strictest one of all. He had never yet broken it, and
opportunity and promise. But a shadow was cast.
feeling lonely. His heart pounded at the thought of it, but
landing, but a few tumbles were worth it. I was more
was determined that he never would. “Feelings are for
Different choice and futures constructed a barrier
girls,” he would say, if anyone asked him.
it was true. Watching the way that little boy relied on his
wonderful to them than jobs, money, all the things
as solid as a lighthouse in a storm. They both knew
adults hold close to their hearts.
what was coming, and twenty six days later, sad
Crow liked to watch people. He would hide in this
replace them with a smile, made Crow wonder what it
smiles sealed their separation.
garden, where no one ever went, and watch from
would be like to have a family. The people he watched
I saw them grow up.
mother to make him better, to take away his tears and
his special tree. His tree was the highest one in the
didn’t normally affect him this way. Watching was fun
I didn’t see them for a handful of years, all my other I saw her wander to me alone. She almost was the
garden, it was an oak tree, and he was very proud
and Crow enjoyed it. It wasn’t meant to make him feel
visitors blurring into one. My seats became creaky
same, cautious makeup distorting her youth. She
of it. He was also very proud of his climbing skills,
things, to make him need someone.
without their affection.
though he never said so.
absently sat down on my right swing, her side. The
Crow tried to make himself forget the family he’d
left was empty. Her phone was in and out of her
I saw them again when they had grown. Her hair had
On this particular day he was up in his tree, watching,
seen; for the rest of the day he pretended he was an
pocket, last hope shattered at each glance. Time
the same streaks of colour as her school jumper,
as he did every day. He had spotted a big family, out
adventurer, trekking through a jungle, with vicious
crept by as it does when you’re waiting, and I saw
his hands still slightly grubby. I could see remains of
shopping together. They were fun to watch, because
beasts chasing him. It was a fun game and Crow liked it.
through the brave face. Hopelessness shone in her
childhood as strongly as they felt delight at being re-
there were young children, who were being naughty
But it wasn’t enough to make him forget. Crow began
eyes; finally stood up and walked away, her face
united. They still swung on me, age and expectations
for their mother. They were all very happy though,
to feel frightened, what if he could never forget that
fixed on the grass.
flung into the clouds. She joked as they swung on
Crow could see that.
family? Then he felt angry. Why had they walked past his
me in unison that they were married, oblivious to
garden? Why did that boy fall over, just in front of Crow?
I saw them both again when they were here with
his blushes. Both slowing down, he stood up to get
“friends”. Shock seemed to ripple through the park,
All of a sudden the youngest boy fell over, and Crow
Why didn’t they see him and ask if he was alright, ask
down again on one knee. A velvet box was shaking
and his apologetic smile was finally accepted. With
could see the scarlet blood on his knee. The boy was
him where his family was? Then Crow remembered. If
in his palms; upon opening it, her face crumbled into
excuses plucked from the top of their heads, given
crying, but Crow kept watching. He watched the
they had asked, he wouldn’t have known, he couldn’t
a teary smile.
mother fall to her knees beside the boy, and hug him.
have answered. Crow didn’t have a family. Crow would
He watched the mother scoop him up and kiss his knee
never have a family. Crow would never have anyone. He was Crow and that was the end of that.
to their peers, they shuffled over to me. Time apart was nursed with his explanation, and an awkward
I see their children swing on me. They watch from a
hug banished her disappointment.
better. Crow felt something inside him, as he watched
distance, and smile. The joy has been passed on.
the family leave. Something he had never felt before.
He knew what it was. It was breaking his rules. He was Kitty
The Skating Dream
I don’t know me.
He appears beside me, dark red hair swept over
I opened my eyes and suddenly realised I was upside-
“No, but I’ve only gone and booked us in to see the
Who I am, I mean.
his face, the lamp light making it look like a licking
down. Finishing my flip and landing, I put my foot to
skateboarding competition in Newcastle today!”
flame. We both wear black.
the floor and stopped just before the next ramp. That’s
All I know is I’m different.
when I actually realised how much the crowd was
She crosses the road, hugging her elbows against
“Yes us. We’re the same you and I, or did you just
cheering for me. I was impressed. For a moment, I just
“Oh wow! I had a dream about that! Oh thanks Dad!”
think I was so lonely I had to waste my time with
Not that I can feel it.
gazed into the crowds before I was interrupted by the
some damn do-gooder?”
“That’s ok. Hurry up and get dressed!”
Her blonde ponytail sways with each step, her heels
I’d never really thought about it, he was just a
clacking in the stony silence of the night. The street
Then they called me over. Oh no, the scores I have
nuisance, a buzzing fly in my ear trying to tempt me
lights cast an orange-yellow glow on her, the leather
been waiting for, for my whole life go up.
away from saving innocent lives.
of her jacket seeming to catch fire as she passes
and were on our way to the most exciting thing I had ever gone to in my life. Crowds. Busy. Amazing. That is how it was.
under each one. But soon, the street lights become
That’s got to be the highest score ever achieved! Well
few and far between.
“You’re doing this all wrong you know.”
done, and give a round of applause for Tony Day!”
I close the distance between us.
I ignore him again.
“I’m now the world champion!”
I don’t know if she can feel my presence, a change
The girl is getting closer to them now. I crouch on
At least I thought I was…
the edge of the roof, leaning over and fixing my gaze
It’s pitch black and there’s nothing to see. This isn’t the
on the youths as they hear the feminine footsteps.
podium where I should get my trophy that’s as gold
“We’re not meant to save them.”
as the sun. This isn’t where the crowds are cheering
Though every good thing has to end, and my skating
so loudly I can hear my heart banging in my ears. This
dream was just one of many that I will have. And
There’s that we, that suggestion he knows exactly
is home, boring old home. Where my Mum has died
I hope that you too will one day have your dream
what I am. Who I am.
and my Dad is down at the pub 95% of the time, drunk
come true. I’ve had my skating dream and I am now
and unable to come home on his own. I look over at
one step closer to making it happen. Maybe this is the
my platinum clock. It’s funny really, my Dad can afford
start for yours, too?
in the air pressure or an electric current seeming to prick at her skin, but she starts to worriedly cast nervous glances around her. Maybe she has heard the tales. If she can feel my presence then she knows that something bad is about to happen. That’s why I’m here. I leap onto the next roof as she speeds her pace, stalking like a panther and watching like a hawk as the hooded, rowdy youths begin to accumulate further down the street, not that she can see that. “Don’t do it,” a familiar voice says quietly from behind me. I ignore him. “You can’t protect her forever.” He laughs. “How will you save all the others if you’re watching her?” I growl, short and sharp my eyes catching the glint of a knife in one of the boy’s hands. “Come on, just let one go will you? I’ll take you for a pint, I know a place, one of us owns it.” My concentration wavers, he’s never mentioned an “us” before. I tilt my head fractionally towards him. “Us?” my voice feels rough, unused.
“It’s a ten, nine and a half, ten and…What? Another ten?
In no more than twenty minutes, we had had breakfast
“What?” I ask impatiently, if I lose concentration at the wrong moment, she dies.
Dad would shout “Go on!” to my favourite skater; Steve Rogers, and it would look as though he was miming. I would boo and hiss to Quentin Smith (the most rubbish skater on Earth), and the person sitting next to me would give me a filthy look. That is honestly what it
pretty much anything but to other people, we look
“How did you know this would happen? How did
poor. We live in a run-down house, with a garden that
you know to track her?”
has weeds growing in every space possible.
I don’t answer.
Anyway, it’s 4:45 in the morning and I decide to turn
was like. But I enjoyed it.
my lamp on. I want to fall back to sleep and be lost “You felt it didn’t you? A pull, a sort of magnetic pull
in thoughts all over again. But I’m awake now. No
dragging you towards her. Only you assumed it was
a cue to save her.” Then I hear the door open, and at first I think we’re I growl again. “What else am I supposed to do?!” I curse myself
being robbed. But soon, I come back to reality and realise it’s Dad coming back from the pub.
for falling for it and turn my attention back to the
I quickly turn my light off and pretend I’m asleep until I
youths, the girl has spotted them now. She tries to
hear my Dad get into bed. Soon enough, I feel my eyes
turn and escape but they’ve already seen her.
slowly close and then I fall into another deep sleep…
“We, my dear brother are not meant to save her.”
“Hey! Tony! Wake up! Guess what?”
He unfurls his black wings just as I do the same.
“What? Are we going to see Manchester United
“We are meant to harvest her soul.” Scarlett
play against Chelsea at Wembley Stadium?” I asked sarcastically. 23
BUILDING COMMUNITIES FOR A NEW LIBRARY: THE LAUNCH OF JUNCTION 3 LIBRARY, BRISTOL THE PROJECT Read/Write South West provided opportunities for activity in and around Junction 3, the new Big Lottery funded library and learning centre in Easton, Bristol Working with library users, writer Sara-Jane Arbury and graphic novelist Joff Winterhart encouraged visitors to write about what libraries mean to them and hundreds of visitors experienced the vibrant sessions in progress and many gained first-hand experience of working with writers through active participation
Writer Amy Mason has worked with elders (some more than 90 years old) from the area’s large African Caribbean community, encouraging and enabling them to tell their own stories. Amy used lived experience/oral histories to inspire creative writing and sessions were recorded to enable those with poor eyesight to take part
“As all participants were selfselecting and the entrance policy was completely open, the groups were truly diverse and represented the vibrant local area. Among others, members came from the local Pakistani community, were newly arrived immigrants (from Spain, South Africa and Poland), were members of the established African and Caribbean community, or were in recovery (from drugs/alcohol and mental health crises). This diversity led to fascinating writing, and to truly inspiring discussions about what characterises our city and what it means to be Bristolian”
CASE STUDY SIX
READ/WRITE SOUTH WEST CELEBRATION REPORT
READ/WRITE SOUTH WEST CELEBRATION REPORT
Sara-Jane Arbury helped to strengthen and deepen the library’s relationship with the adjacent Millponds Primary School. Pupils were chosen by teachers to attend two library based workshops each to encourage their creative writing. Sara-Jane used a series of exercises to encourage the children to draw inspiration from books, pictures and their own knowledge and experiences
FEEDBACK “Safe and secure” “Completely at home and proud to be a Bristolian” “Happy - like an elephant squirting water” “It’s lovely and playful” “It gives me breathing space” “Amazing”,
“The project provided an excellent opportunity both to strengthen Bristol Libraries’ relationship with two excellent local writers and to allow them to explore working with new groups and communities. The library is in an area of considerable deprivation – the majority of those participating in Read/Write South West activities have not previously had the opportunity to benefit from working with a writer”
“Exciting” “Magical” “Extraordinary” “Fantastic” “I gained more confidence in managing to produce something” “Very helpful and inspiring”
ANDREW COX, BRISTOL LIBRARIES
AMY MASON, WRITER
JOFF AND SARA-JANE Junction 3 Launch event
EMMA SHERRIFF, OUTREACH SUPPORT OFFICER FOR PLYMOUTH CITY COUNCIL LIBRARIES THE PROJECT
The set up and coordination of Young Writers Squad Plymouth, a group for young writers aged 12-16 years running fortnightly at Plymstock Library. Emma also hosted a blog writing skills workshop with the group and facilitated library sessions. The young people now regularly publish work on their own blog: http:// youngwriterssquadplymouth.wordpress. com. Emma worked closely with local writer Babs Horton who led writing activities. An anthology of the squad’s writing is to be published this year
The Librarian made the following comments and observations about working with Read/Write South West on these projects: “The Young Writers Squad have been inspirational to work with, reading their stories and poetry is exciting and incredibly entertaining” “Working with a professional writer has enabled young people to become more confident in themselves as individuals, and hone their writing skills” “With the support of a professional writer, librarians and library facilities, a young person with special educational needs, and experiencing difficulties with writing and speech, has been able to attend independently, share work with peers, integrate with other young writers, and develop in confidence”
“The Squad received a welcome tour of the library and made use of library resources made available to them, including teen and adult novels, free internet access and use of word processing software”
“I am delighted that the library could help to unlock and share their creativity and talent” LIBRARIAN
READ/WRITE SOUTH WEST CELEBRATION REPORT
READ/WRITE SOUTH WEST: WRITER AND LIBRARY SALLY CRABTREE, WRITER THE PROJECT
Sally Crabtree was able to use her experience in inspiring young people and working with different partner organizations in Cornwall to present a series of workshops that would help libraries reach local primary schools in their area
The Writer made the following comments and observations about working with Read/Write South West on these projects:
The aim of the workshops were to bring words to life, give children the confidence to find their own voice and break down preconceived ideas of what reading and writing could be – to add an element of surprise and delight into peoples’ notions of what literature is Those taking part experienced the unexpected – they discovered that they themselves could write and make books in all shapes and sizes using their own imaginative ideas, that they could perform their poems and songs, create dancing poems and even eat their words and become a walking living poem! Literature really could come alive. They discovered that grown ups aren’t always boring, that poets can do cartwheels, that words can carry in their arms one’s own amazing ideas and hand them like a present to others – not necessarily just in book form but perhaps as an objet d’art, a song, a performance poem, in an installation or as the icing of an edible poetry cake The project showed that libraries can surprise you by offering you somewhere to discover, and be a place of vibrant, meaningful fun
“As someone who has always found libraries exciting places, it was inspiring to see children who had never set foot in one before become enthused after a session and ask “ How can I join?“ “The project brought the libraries to life and proved that young people are eager for such positive experiences. It made me as a writer want to think of even more new ways to capture their imaginations” “The project was a very successful way for the libraries to forge a link with local schools and to see how projects such as this can bring communities together in positive and exciting ways. It showed the schools that libraries can offer a fresh approach to literacy and bring it alive in ways that young people respond to, giving them a new found confidence that they can take back to all their lessons and their life”
READ/WRITE SOUTH WEST: LIBRARIAN
CASE STUDY SEVEN CASE STUDY EIGHT
READ/WRITE SOUTH WEST CELEBRATION REPORT
READ/WRITE SOUTH WEST CELEBRATION REPORT
Literature Works would like to thank the following people and organisations for their support and hard work in making this project such a success: Arts Council England, South West
Bridport Arts Centre
Bridport Open Book Festival Polly Gifford
Bristol Library Service Andrew Cox
Cornwall Library Service Merryn Kent
Devon Library Service
Tina Orr Munro
Dorset Library Service Sharon Kirkpatrick
Gloucestershire Library Service Carole Bowe
Hall for Cornwall, Truro Isobel King
Carol Rifka Brunt
Learning SW, Taunton Gill Millar and Anna Sayce
HMP Leyhill, South Gloucestershire
Lit Up! Literature Project Poole & Bournemouth Amy Mason
Patchway College, South Gloucestershire Kerry Roberts & the English Department; Sherie Humphreys
Plymouth International Book Festival
Plymouth Library Service Emma Sherriff Plymouth Museum & Arts Gallery Kate Campbell Rethink South Gloucestershire Library & Arts Services Alison Catlin Take Art, Somerset Mark Helyar Torbay Library Services Paul Trainer Plymouth University Marc Lintern Wiltshire Library Service Chris Moore 28
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Writers in Prisons Network Clive Hopwood
Literature Works Peninsula Arts, Plymouth University Roland Levinsky Building Drake Circus PLYMOUTH PL4 8AA Telephone: 01752 585073 Company Limited by Guarantee Registered in England and Wales Company Registration Number: 06858956 Registered Charity: 1132586