Young Writers Project
In our contemporary society, the realities and lived experiences of young people often go unnoticed or are misrepresented within our mainstream culture.
This project offered a developmental framework for two groups of young people from Derry/Londonderry and Donegal to develop authentic and meaningful stories and youth narratives through poetry, prose and spoken word. Through a series of workshops with writer Mary Branley, the young people were encouraged to develop their individual voices in response to their cultural landscape and as a reflection of their own ideas and interests. This broadsheet contains a selection of the young people’s work, which draws on strong social concerns as well as imagined narratives that sometimes delve into science fiction or futuristic possibilities. The project culminated in a special performance and launch event in November 2018, at which both groups of young people came together to share their work with a public audience. This project was managed and developed by Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership, a children’s arts organisation and publishing house, in collaboration with Donegal County Council Library Service and Libraries NI. Kids’ Own is proud to be funded by the Arts Council of Ireland. This project was generously supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs Reconciliation Fund.
Acknowledgements Project writer Mary Branley. Project partners Donegal County Council Library Service and Libraries NI. Special thanks to Donna Cavanagh, Senior Executive Librarian, Donegal County Council Library Service; Maura Craig, Area Manager, Libraries NI; Rory Gallagher, Executive Librarian, Donegal County Council Library Service; Diane Thomson, Branch Library Manager, Strathfoyle Library; Eamonn O’Donnell and Helena McAuley from Enagh Youth Forum. Kids’ Own team Jo Holmwood, Acting Director; Emma Kavanagh, Project Manager; Alice Lyons, Project Manager; Ciara Gallagher, Office Administrator. Broadsheet design Martin Corr. Sound production Anthony McManus.
Aaliyah Mullen Aoibhe McCaffrey Evie Sandilands Alex Bond Kayla Canavan Samantha-Rose Bradley Sarah King Sinéad McHugh Síofra McGarrigle Victoria Adeogun
Strathfoyle Cora Wong Darragh O’Brien Ellie Dixon Emily Ross Kaelin Pyper Katie Crossan Kyra Tracy Milly Hull Riona McGlinchey Sarah Doherty Seanan Brown
young Writers Broadsheet
A selection of works by young writers from Letterkenny and Strathfoyle published by Kids’ Own Publishing Parnership, in collaboration with Donegal County Council Library Service and Libraries NI
young Writers strathfoyle Sarah
Strathfoyle is a great place to live. We have Enagh Youth Forum, a youth club, a primary school, a chapel, a shop, a playgroup, a nursery and we got a new playpark recently. The people in Strathfoyle are very friendly and if you are looking for somewhere to live I’d say pick Strathfoyle.
Emily The 50s! The American Dream seemed to return home. The Great Depression was well and truly over, the war was done. The world seemed to be back on track. A happy lovely track, but it never lasts… There is a town in California, a small lonely town, with a few shops, one high school and a university. Everyone in the town dreamed of getting out of the suffocating dungeon, but no-one ever made it out, A girl arrived there with dark brown hair with light red highlights naturally flowing through her waves. Her skin was pale and doll-like. Her eyes were ocean blue with grey sparks. She wasn’t tall, but not short either. She wore a baby blue dress with a white collar and red lining, the skirt puffed out. Her thin legs were small in comparison to the dress above. Her shoes were a pair of red wedges. A red ribbon wrapped her hair into a low ponytail. The thin small girl made her way out the 50s stereotypical car. She looked around the tiny neighbourhood. The sky was dark, almost black, the trees looked dry and dead, just like the atmosphere. She could only see four or five houses, as it was so dark. “Where are the children?” she asked the man sitting in the driver’s seat. “Its summer, children should be out playing in the streets,” she pointed out. “This town is not like the one you left, miss,” the driver said in a hopeful voice. The girl closed the door behind her and walked slowly to the house in front of her. The car drove away but you could still hear the click clack of her red shoes. She carried a suitcase and laid it on the porch and took a deep breath before knocking on the cold colourless door.
By the group Life as a teenager can be very stressful When you get exams And as you get older It gets more stressful And harder And when you get stressed You think about Suicide And suicide’s not a good thing Your stress goes away into suicide Your stress passes on to someone else to live with The suicide train goes on and on.
Most young people suffer from depression and anxiety and they they shouldn’t have to feel this way Young people who commit suicide Want to take their lives away Sometimes they can be saved And sometimes there’s no chance Derry is one of the worst Why do so many young men Take the bridge? The bridge across the Foyle Or the other one They call the Peace bridge Now every time I cross the bridge On the way to school and home It’s all I think about Just imagine how traumatized You’d be working for the Foyle Search and rescue?
There’s a new group now Called the Road to Hope They put messages on the bridge In case you need to read them Like: You’ll get through You are strong Someone loves you You belong One time on my way to school My heart nearly came out my mouth I thought the camera on the pole Was someone about to jump Maybe I was over thinking But you can’t help feeling scared Like no one cares
Messages for the Bridge Just remember at the end of every storm There’s always a Rainbow Coming
Love from Ellie Head up Keep her lit You’ll be sweet You’ll be strong
From Riona Hold on kid No need to let your feelings Ruin or end your life You’ll be sweet To the beat
Love Kyra You are worth something Worth more than the words that fly around your head You are someone’s worth And someone loves you Keep going and keep on living KEEP HER LIT
Nothing is as bad as it seems Talk to someone You are amazing and worth it
From Katie There is always light At the end of a dark tunnel
From Sarah You’ll be sweet It will eventually pass You’re only passing on pain
Love Seanan xx
What is to be done? Suicide is not the answer Getting help and support is a choice It will help you and show you the light At the end of a dark tunnel. Think about your loved ones.
Suicide is a choice Whereas help is a necessity In silence and misery Some people suffer Suicide is not a joke and something needs to be done about it fast. People need to let their feelings out and don’t let it bottle up inside. When you let your feelings out it gets a whole lot easier. Everyone has bad days but it will get better when you deal with it properly. At the end of every storm there’s always a rainbow coming.
People shouldn’t have to commit suicide to feel better or get rid of anxiety.
Milly Youth Club is on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. They give you the interests, and new people should join and if there are any problems they sort them out as quick as possible. Youth club is a good place and it contains very good people, it provides good leaders and good activities to do.
y l i m E Katie Kyra Milly Sarah Darragh Kaelin Riona Seanan
young Writers letterkenny
Extract by Samantha Rose
Schrödingers Cat by Aaliyah
I had never much minded school. I was never the kid who wished for a day
Humans, a definition: Made of blood, bone and stars.
off, or pretended to be sick to avoid a test. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t love
“A young girl sits in a building covered in rubble. A baby lies in a bundle of torn
it. I didn’t meticulously show up at 8:45 in a perfect school uniform with a
blankets and the girl shakily cradles him. She does not know how he came to be
bag packed with books and flawless homework. I didn’t volunteer at every
here. She can only think of two scenarios.”
Wardriven by Alex
opportunity or bake cookies for the teachers and I definitely didn’t thrust my
Sandy starts the story with that. Penny makes a noise between a snort and cry.
The Astronaut by Siofra
Once upon a time we knew
hand up at every question I knew. You couldn’t do that at St. George’s. It was
“You’ve told me that story before. I’m far too old for stories,” she insists, her eyes
Sometimes it seems like the only thing that matters in the world is the night sky.
We knew the difference between man and machine
the school for ex drug addicts, kids from a broken home or pregnant teenagers.
The earth feels so terrestrial that nothing magical could ever happen. The sky is an
But now the lines are blurring
If you wanted to be recognised as smart, you travelled an extra half hour to the
“No you’re not. Listen Pen,” Sandy carries on.
escape to wherever it takes your mind. A deep pit of stars, planets and dust filled
We sit back, watch machines
‘good’ school, the ‘successful’ school, the school that gave you a million chances
“One. The boy is an illusion. Maybe she is hallucinating. She doesn’t think it
with endless possibilities and beyond that… so much more.
Robots take over our lives
to be whoever you wanted to be. It had a choir, a hockey team, a football team,
would be the first time. Maybe he’s like that cat, stuck in the box, alive and dead
My world is silent save a few beeps that emit from the trackers and machines
Take our jobs
an orchestra. Every year they were all over the papers with amazing GCSE results,
at the same time. So why would you not open the box? Because… He’s definite.
every now and then. Everything around me is cream or white; the plastic casing
with students going on to be lawyers, doctors and politicians. The only time that
The realities collapse. She does not wake the boy. Two. The boy is real. He’s living
for the computers, the screens send out a bright white light and if you look at
Our free will
St. George’s was on the news was when one of the students set the library on fire.
and breathing and made of everything humans are. That means somebody left
them for long, you get a headache. So try and avoid that. The cabin door is white
We had them under control for a while
him. Or maybe he’s a monster with horns and yellow eyes and long wings made
with a red label stuck to the back of it to remind you not to open it unless you’ve
We even had a power off switch
St. George’s hadn’t always been a dump. At one stage it had been the dream
of ivory. So she does not wake the boy. Its like the cat.”
suited up. My bunk is cream, the pillows are cream and the frame is cream.
Guess what they did?
school. Well, that’s what Mum told me anyway and I suppose I should believe
“It’s the same so far. I’m done.” Penny, all of fifteen years with a mind of iron
Everything is simple and similar. Sometimes you can get a faint whiff of fuel.
Got your answer?
her. She went there after all and told me it had shiny floorboards and colourful
and a will of jelly, bolts upwards. With a flick of her long brown hair and a final
From my perch on the top bunk in the cabin I can see out of the small porthole.
If you guessed they got rid of it
walls and four playing fields. It had a smart uniform and the inspectors always
sniffle, she marches out the door. Sandy just watches her sister go.
I can see a beautiful blue-green planet, suspended like a marble, amongst the sea
Well you’re right
went away singing the school’s praises. Now the inspectors don’t even come
“Here is the rest of the story. Don’t go. I swear, it’s just Penny.”
of stars. Its name is Earth. I sit here every night and keep an eye on my home.
to the school anymore. They’re scared they’ll get robbed or set on fire. I mean
“The girl clutches the baby close as she feels the ground and building shake. The
I hope some day I can return.
Then for a bit it was war
that only happened once, or twice. Or maybe it was three times. Anyway, as if it
baby wakes. That’s the end. It’s like the cat.”
They left or so we thought
mattered. They don’t come now and that’s that.
Sandy watches in mute horror as the numbers beside Penny’s name and smiling
Extract from Smile by Sarah
They started merging or something like that
Megan looked up to see a tall slim boy around her age with dark thick curly hair,
They joined us without our knowing
Party Bruises by Sinéad
48%, 49%, 50%, 51%, 52%
hair that bounced ever so slightly as he walked swiftly into the busy café. He made
So here we are in a world where we don’t know
Put your glad rags on and cover the bags under your eyes
The numbers stop growing, Sandy almost lets out a sob. The other candidate’s
direct eye contact with the flustered waitress, before slowing down.
Who is a robot or who is not
Take a sip of an energy drink to energise
name gleams beside a 48%, mocking Sandy’s childish hope. Her screen flickers
Tyler, just like any other teenage boy, had his own issues. He lived in a big house
Hopefully they are not like their ancestors
Fix your hair and pretend you care
and Sandy folds in on herself, blinking away tears. God, how she wished it was
which from the outside looked like the home of a happy family, but on the inside
Smile when you get there to this social nightmare
like the cat.
face, rake upwards.
was filled with the toxic air of a married couple tearing each other apart. Tyler
Sit with your friends, wait til the night ends
was used to his arguing parents and how they detested one another. A part of him
But until then, you’ll drink and not care what they think
First Year Fear by Evie
pined for the day when no-one argued, when they were all happy, when home felt
Extract from The Unseen Boy by Aoibhe
Get up to dance, maybe have short romance
It’s a new start and a dark day
like home. Too often he came home to find his sister hidden in her room crying.
The boy groans, as he pulls back his sleeve and reads the number on his wrist.
With the boy across the floor
No-one warned me about the giants,
He reads Lucky no. 7. “Lucky no. 7?” He thinks, “Is that my name?” He repeats
That one sitting by the door
the eight foot teenagers with fake faces
Down by the Forest Well by Kayla
it out loud, and a panel slides open in the wall, as if summoned by his voice. A
You won’t talk after tonight and that’s alright
and branded bags,
Mary brushed back her short greasy hair as she walked through the night’s
computer pops out and it isn’t dusty and old like the others. Lucky stares at it
Drinks passed round, spilled on the ground
about the sneers and jeers
completely silent dark corridors. Her tinted peach school uniform trailed across
as it switches on and goes straight to a pre-recorded message.
And nobody cares
when we pass by.
the cold gardens. She stood completely quiet as she waited for the head nun to
“Dear Lucky no. 7, or should I say Rose?”
arrive at her office. Her thoughts began to get more and more worrisome as she
“Rose,” Lucky wonders. “Who is Rose?”
The party moves on to the deck chairs
off seats, but yet they never speak
watched students and teachers pass by her with a mischievous yet disappointed
“Yes Lucky, your name is Rose.”
And you’re sure the neighbours will complain of the noise
to one of us.
look in their eyes. She watched unwillingly as the pale older woman took a seat in
“But that’s a girls name!”
And the girls get the boys
A hundred years away
her armchair, and spoke with a crooked smile, her raspy voice echoing down the
“You may seem confused.”
And the girls get the girls
We’ll be tall, who once were small
“No kidding Sherlock,” Lucky says.
And the boys get the boys
and we’ll rather die than smile
“What is it this time Mary?” A short sigh escaped her wrinkled lips.
“But you are not as you would imagine, a BOY. YOU are a girl, you were born
You and your friends laugh as somebody takes a photograph
at a first year passing by.
Mary’s head stayed down, as all she could do was stutter out a few questionable
And no-one was really ready
words. She couldn’t seem to focus on what was exactly was coming out of her
“Whuuu at?” Lucky demands.
You try and stand up, unsteady
Extract from The Girl by Victoria
mouth. She felt her face burn up. Her flustered face caught the now slightly
“This simulation was created to make you NORMAL, to analyse your brain
You stumble over to some people you know
I had a feeling that someone was watching me. Suddenly a golden hand rested
frustrated nun’s attention. She rolled her eyes at Mary’s pitiful expression.
waves and end this wishful thinking.”
Make your way inside with the pick up of the tempo
upon my shoulder.
“Ok,” the nun uttered, “I’ll let you off as long as you promise me something.”
“What the hell,” Lucky mutters.
of the music that was playing
Mary’s eyes lifted from her shaking hands and onto the nun’s now serious frown.
“You will undergo a series of trials that will make you discover that YOU…”
You and your friends are on the floor slaying
I spun around to see a lady, the most beautiful lady I had ever seen. She had a
“Don’t let this happen again.”
“Hang on,” Lucky says. A memory flashes through his mind, a fleeting glimpse
And when the playlist finishes the crowd seems suddenly diminished
crown of while lilies and purple lavender flowers in her golden hair. Her silky
Mary felt relief as the nun spoke her last words.
not long enough to grasp, but definitely there.
And people start leaving and you are now grieving for this night
golden hair trailed on the grass in a very long mane and was grass-stained at
“Thank you,” Mary said, with a slight grin. The old nun let her eyes wander as
“I’ve had this lecture before.”
Even though it’s well into the morning light
the end. But the only part I recognised about her were those eyes. Those eyes.
she pointed in the direction of the door. Mary stumbled out of the small room.
And even if this party is something your memory loses
They were unmistakable. The same eyes that almost burned four girls alive. I
She knew as soon as she set foot in the moth-eaten classroom, everyone’s eyes
“Please continue,” says Lucky.
You’ll always have the party bruises.
took a step back, dazed.
would be on her and she never enjoyed that kind of attention. She peeked her
“NOT,” the robotic voice continues.
“Don’t be scared,” she said
head around each corridor cautiously, hoping she could slip into the lonesome
“Here it comes.”
I took another step back. The light coming from her was blinding. A lot of
bathroom without being seen. The sound of distant footsteps startled her.
questions were running through my head. How, what, when, why and where?
“Mmm, talk to me.”
My name is Amare Angelus, the Latin word for Love Angel. I was the new girl at
The words echo through the night blasting Lucky’s ears. “Thank you and goodnight,” the message ends. “Well that was cheerful,” Lucky says.
They pull up bags and push us
A selection of works by young writers from Letterkenny and Strathfoyle published by Kids' Own Publishing Partnership, in collaboration with...
Published on Mar 13, 2019
A selection of works by young writers from Letterkenny and Strathfoyle published by Kids' Own Publishing Partnership, in collaboration with...