For much of the last year, I have been working as a First Story writer-in-residence at Judgemeadow Community College in Leicester. This has involved delivering 16 workshops over the last eight months or so, along with a visit to the First Story Young writers’ Festival in Oxford. The staff and students have been an absolute joy to work with. Over the course of the programme the students produced some amazing work that made me think, made me laugh, and, at times, moved me to tears. I am always in awe of how readily young writers throw themselves into their work. Their engagement and energy is inspiring and I always return to my own work with a sense of renewed focus. My work with First Story is genuinely the highlight of my working week. You can check out all the details about First Story’s amazing work over on their website.
Over the course of the academic year, the group have worked on a number of pieces in response to music, art and video stimulus, with a couple of the members of the group going on to win prizes within the school and at a national level. Our shared writing and workshops have all built, to the recent collating an publication of a collection of the students’ work, entitled I right English more goodlyer then U. The group launched their collection at a recent even in Leicester. Unfortunately I was out of the country (more on that later) and was unable to attend. However, I visited the school a week or so before to help the students rehearse their pieces. It was great to hear them reading their work with such confidence; hearing the pieces read aloud only emphasised the quality of the writing that went in to making their anthology. Before I left, the students gave me a t-shirt with their anthology cover emblazoned across it, with instructions to wear it in Lisbon (where I was when they took to the stage to launch their book). Hence this image, which I emailed to them (via their teacher) along with a message wishing them well and letting them know how proud I am of them and their writing.
On the day of their launch, the students sent me this image of themselves about to take the stage, all wearing one of the cover t-shirts. I promptly showed this off to everyone I spoke to in Lisbon that day.
So there you are, there is a genuine book out there in the world, filled to the brim with the writing of these amazing young people, and here it is:
I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of these names in print again in the near future; First Story alumni tend to go on to great things. Until then, I wish all my First Story students at Judgemeadow, and their teacher the brilliant Mrs Court, a great and fun-filled summer.