class="post-53282 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-opportunities"Freedom Seekers of London
at Museum of London Docklandsa composite image of four faces and an illustration by Tasia Graham

Performative interventions in the London, Sugar & Slavery gallery at Museum of London Docklands through poetry and art on 24 May 6 – 7.30pm  – Free tickets

Explore the Museum of London Docklands’ London, Sugar and Slavery gallery through the eyes of the enslaved people who sought freedom in the City.

Runaways London, a collaboration between Spread the Word, University of Glasgow’s Runaway Slaves in Britain project and Ink Sweat and Tears, has partnered with Museum of London Docklands to offer a unique view of their collection. This event will focus on selected artefacts and exhibits from the London, Sugar and Slavery gallery, and include performances from poets Momtaza Mehri and Memoona Zahid, and artwork from Tasia Graham which speak to the history of enslavement in our city.  The event will include discussion facilitated by writers Carinya Sharples and Remi Graves exploring contemporary responses to narratives of enslavement; asking how we can remember the past whilst challenging its attitudes.

For more info and to book your free ticket please visit: www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london-docklands/whats-on/freedom-seekers-london?id=306008

 

Published 13 May 2022

class="post-53019 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-news"Announcing City of Stories Home winners

City of Stories Home celebrates London’s libraries as places to make and share stories and in partnership with London Libraries, Spread the Word is thrilled to announce the winning and highly commended writers for the City of Stories Home competition. Each of these writers will feature in the City of Stories Home anthology, alongside stories by project writers Amer Anwar, Natasha Brown, Jarred McGinnis, Caleb Azumah Nelson, Iqbal Hussain, Ruth Goldsmith, S. Niroshini and Lizzie Damilola Blackburn. The anthology will be launched at free celebration events at London libraries throughout June and all are invited. 

a collection of pastel purple, yellow, orange and turquoise rectangles stacked on top of each other, with 'City of Stories Home' written down the side in a black font. This image is the front cover of the City Of Stories Home anthology
The City of Stories Home Anthology cover, designed by Patricia Ferguson using illustrations by Tasia Graham

In February 2022, over 1400 people signed up to participate in 33 free online creative writing workshops hosted by London library services. These were designed to support people to write with a community, to explore the theme of home and to expand knowledge and enjoyment of creative writing. All workshop participants were invited to enter their work into the City of Stories Home competition, which received over 300 entries. Our judges, writers Amer Anwar, Natasha Brown, Jarred McGinnis and Caleb Azumah Nelson selected 63 winning and highly commended stories to represent all boroughs of London in the City of Stories Home Anthology.

The anthology will be launched in each London borough in local libraries across June. You can book your free ticket to the launch events here, or through the links on this webpage. At the events you can pick up a free copy of the anthology to take home, take part in a short creative writing taster sessions and hear readings from the selected writers.

Thank you to everyone who submitted their stories to the competition. We’re delighted to announce and congratulate the winning and highly commended writers here.

North London

Barnet

Book a free place at the Barnet celebration event hosted by writer Annie Hayter on Thursday 30 June 6 – 8pm at Chipping Barnet Library: cityofstorieshomebarnetanniehayter.eventbrite.co.uk

a person with short hair wearing rectangular glasses and a multicoloured jumperWinner: Taking the Tablets by Ruthie Raphael 

Ruthie Raphael has been resident in the London Borough of Barnet for almost 30 years. She is a professional dog groomer and enjoys writing in her spare time.  She uses writing both as a creative pursuit and also for therapeutic benefits. ‘Taking the Tablets’ is their first story to be published.

Ruthie says: “I am delighted to be included in this anthology. Taking part in the City of Stories Home programme really resonated with me. I am particularly drawn to the genre of Life Writing as a creative way to have a voice and share part of my story.”

a photo of a closeup of a person's face looking serious at the cameraHighly Commended: Collateral Damage by Shereen Pandit 

Shereen Pandit trained and practised as a lawyer in her youth but she has spent most of her adult life as a political activist, trade unionist, wife and mother. Writing, like sport, fits in there somewhere. Her short stories have won the odd prize. One won the Booktrust London Award and was performed on stage and on radio in the USA. Some of Shereen’s work is on the curricula of European high schools.

Shereen says: “Attending these workshops forced me to set aside time to focus on nothing but writing. For a while now, almost anything could get in the way, and I’d lost confidence in my writing. Moreover, I haven’t – not counting primary school exams – ever written a story in under 500 words. Quite a challenge.”

Enfield

Book a free place at the Enfield celebration event hosted by writer Carinya Sharples on Saturday 25 June 2 – 4pm at Enfield Town Library: cityofstorieshomeenfieldcarinyasharples.eventbrite.co.uk

a person wearing a hat looking at and smiling into the camera. Winner: House-proud by Pamela Kandekore

Pamela Kandekore currently teaches in a primary school on a full-time basis. Reading and writing have been her favourite pastimes since she was a child. So, she signed up for library memberships wherever she could. Pamela has an MA in children’s literature. She particularly enjoys writing stories for children and short stories.

Pamela says: “I am delighted to learn that my writing was selected as one of the winning entries for the anthology. It feels good to have a connection to my local library as a writer and a reader. The writing techniques we rehearsed in the workshop, helped me to create this work.”

a person sitting on a sofa wearing a straw hat and smiling widely at the cameraHighly Commended: Africa my ancestral home by Lisa Hardy

British Born but 100% Jamaican. Lisa Hardy has a rich and complicated heritage. Now her Dad has passed away, she carries the torch of storyteller and writing gives her an outlet to tap into those stories and the DNA memory of her African ancestors. Lisa loves the Arts – she’s a keen gardener, an activist and she is very passionate about community.

Lisa says: “The word “home” had a different meaning in my household from “mi ah go home” to “going back home” which was not a reference to where we lived in the UK. As a child from the African diaspora I find myself knitting together the commonalities between my Caribbean and African roots.”

Haringey

Book a free place at the Haringey celebration event with host writer Lorraine Brown on Tuesday 21 June 2 – 4pm at Wood Green Library: cityofstorieshomeharingeylorrainebrown.eventbrite.co.uk

a person wearing a bright pink top and long black braids looking at the camera with a slight smileWinner: (Un)welcoming by Aisha Phoenix

Aisha Phoenix’s speculative fiction collection, Bat Monkey and Other Stories, was shortlisted for the 2020 SI Leeds Literary Prize. Her work has appeared in Inkandescent’s Mainstream anthology, Leicester Writers Short Story Prize Anthology Vol. 5, the 2020 National Flash Fiction Day Anthology Root, Tree, Branch, Strange Horizons, Litro USA Online and The Mechanics’ Institute Review Online. Twitter: @FirebirdN4.

Aisha says: “I am delighted that ‘(Un)welcoming’ has been chosen as the winning entry for Haringey for the City of Stories Home short story writing competition. It is a privilege to have my work included in the anthology. I can’t wait to read the other stories. Thank you to the judges, Spread the Word, and Lorraine Brown for an inspiring workshop.”

a photo of a woman with short dark hair and big glasses. She is smiling widely and wearing a blue patterned shirt.Highly Commended: Vacant by Terri-Ceres de Roché-Puckerin

Terri-Ceres de Roché-Puckerin graduated from Goldsmiths University twice – once with a BA in English, and again with an MA in Literature of the Caribbean and its Diasporas. She has lived in north London all her life, and is currently a teacher of English at a north London secondary school.

Terri-Ceres says: “I’m really pleased to be included in the anthology! The City of Stories Home programme made us look deeply at what symbolised ‘home’ for each of us. For me, it was a chance to write creatively about loss and mental health in a way I might not have considered otherwise.” 

Central London

Camden

Book a free place at the Camden celebration event with host writer S. Niroshini on Wednesday 15 June 6-8pm at Pancras Square Library: cityofstorieshomecamdensniroshini.eventbrite.co.uk

a person looking at the camera smiling and playing with their brunette hair Winner: Lasagne for One by Emily Gaywood-James

Emily Gaywood-James lives in North West London with her wife. She grew up in the Midlands and spent time living and working in France, Spain, Denmark and the USA before returning to the UK around six years ago. In 2021 her work was featured in the This Is Our Place anthology. She is currently working on her first novel.

Emily says: “I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the City of Stories Home programme. As an aspiring writer, online workshops and events offer me the chance to further develop my craft, and I am very proud to have had my story ‘Lasagne for One’ selected for the anthology.”

a closeup of a woman smiling widely with long dark hair and sunglasses on her headHighly Commended: The Way Home by Tina Sang

Tina Sang is an English student at New College, Oxford. She was born in Michigan and moved to Beijing at the age of eleven. She writes short stories, lyrics, and has attempted two novels. When she’s not writing, she’s pursuing her other artistic hobbies, such as songwriting, piano playing, and dancing.

Tina says: “Initiatives like the City of Stories Home programme are beautiful because they bring together communities of people who are all passionate about storytelling and creativity. Art is all about a chain of inspiration; my hope is that my writing will be able to inspire someone else to write something wonderful, the same way the workshop inspired me.”

City of London 

Book a free place at the City of London celebration event with host writer Tice Cin on Saturday 2 July 10am – 2pm at Barbican Library: cityofstorieshomecityoflondonticecin.eventbrite.co.uk

a closeup of a woman with long dark hair wearing a beaded choker and a white tshirtWinner: Hangzhou by Eleanor Sue Zhao

Eleanor Sue Zhao is a writer and trainee lawyer. She was born in China, and grew up in Edinburgh and Cambridge. Her writing explores, among other things, emotions and relationships through prosaic and poetic dialogue. She recently finished East of Eden (Steinbeck), The Old Man and the Sea (Hemingway) and American Originality (Glück) and welcomes any discussion around those books or recommendations for what to read next!

Eleanor Sue says: “I am very glad to be included in this anthology on “home”. It is called many things, but the sense of home, I think, is also the sense of love, belonging, safety and a cessation to otherwise endless longing. The search for home, on the other hand, can be painful, feel fruitless and fatalistic. Wherever, therefore, our sense of home comes from (whether given to us or constructed by us), it is inextricably tied to our sense of self and our connection to the world. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be able to offer my perspective on this important word.”

a woman wearing a black blazer and smiling at the camera Highly Commended: Mausoleum by Verity Greaves

Verity Greaves writes poetry, articles, and stories. She has lived and worked abroad but now lives in the City of London. She works in adult learning, is a qualified City guide and is currently writing a novel set in the square mile.

Verity says: “I am thrilled to be included in the anthology and thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the City of Stories Home workshop. The workshop gave me an opportunity to participate with a community of City of London writers, a borough which provides me with much inspiration for my writing.”

Kensington and Chelsea

Book a free place at the Kensington and Chelsea celebration event with host writer Jemilea Wisdom-Baako on Thursday 30 June 6-8pm at Kensington Central Library – BSL Interpreted: cityofstorieshomekensington-jemileawisdombaako.eventbrite.co.uk

a photo of a woman wearing a black and white stripey top with shoulder length dark hair smiling widely at the cameraWinner: Clearing by Alison Catchpole

Alison moved to London after studying psychology at Oxford University. She trained as a teacher and has worked in many schools in inner London, also spending five years teaching in Brussels, and a decade freelance writing fashion articles for luxury lifestyle magazines in Hong Kong. She lives just off Portobello Road and is currently retraining as a lawyer.

Alison says: “The City of Stories Home workshop with Jemilea Wisdom-Baako reminded me that, while there is no obligation, giving people the ‘tingle factor’ is a good thing. I wanted to structure something so it didn’t run away with me. My parents have both died in the past few years, leaving a beautiful but rather full home. ‘Clearing’ is something I have come to know about! I’m delighted to be included in the anthology.”

a man wearing glassesHighly Commended: The Unspoken Pact by Stan Moorcroft

Stan Moorcroft has been writing for as long as he can remember. A full career both in the NHS, and voluntary sector, encompassing addiction, offending and mental health, reduced time for writing. Since retiring he has more time to write. One self-published novel, Jack, plus poems and short pieces published. Writing is communication, one reader will do.

Stan says: “I am delighted to be included in an anthology focused on city life. I have lived in London for 40 years, city life is complex and multi-layered, rich in experiences, but also sometimes cold and lonely. It is a goldmine of stories, from the rich and privileged, to those living on the margins.”

Islington

Book a free place at the Islington celebration event with host writer Shagufta K Iqbal on Thursday 23 June 6-7.30pm at Islington Central Library: cityofstorieshomeislingtonshaguftakiqbal.eventbrite.co.uk

a woman with her hair in a bun wearing big hoop earrings and wearing a black tshirt and trousersWinner: Terra incognita by Hazel Beevers

Hazel Beevers is a freelance creative producer, writer, editor and photographer. She co-runs The Literary Platform, and writes fiction in her spare time. She is a mother of one.

Hazel says: “Terra Incognita is about a group of people living in a housing association block, and how those residents – not the place – make it home.  I am incredibly grateful to Shagufta Iqbal and the City of Stories workshop for allowing me to see the potential in the story, to the judges for reading it, and to Spread the Word for running such an inclusive programme.”

a photo of a man wearing a brown tshirt with short dark hair. He is smiling. Highly Commended: The Letter by Ashley Pegg

Ashley Pegg is a writer and an award-winning filmmaker. He was recently selected for the Faber Academy novel-writing course and his films have screened at festivals worldwide, having previously trained at the National Film and Television School. He is also a visiting lecturer at the University of Westminster.

Ashley says: “Coming up with an idea for the City of Stories was really exciting—once I had it, I couldn’t wait to get going. There were lots of seminars with insightful tips from experienced writers to inspire me, and what better validation than to be part of a community of talented London-based authors in the City of Stories Home Anthology.”

Lambeth

Book a free place at the BSL Interpreted Lambeth celebration event with host writer Helen Bowell on Wednesday 8 June 6.30-8.30pm at Streatham Library: lambeth-libraries-city-of-stories-home.eventbrite.co.uk

Winner: Bare Earth by Tracey Hammett

Tracey Hammett is from Cardiff. Most of her family live in Barry, South Wales, so when she isn’t in Brockwell Park she may well be on Barry Island Beach. She has worked as a flavourist’s assistant, a prescription pricer and a waitress (and in quite a few other jobs besides). She now works as an English and creative writing tutor and a children’s writer.

Tracey says: “I am delighted to be included in the City of Stories Home anthology. I have lived in Lambeth for many years, it is a fascinating place, bursting with life and diversity and it’s definitely never boring. I think the City of Stories Home programme is a great way to connect people with their local library and encourage creativity.”

a photo of a woman with long curly hair Highly Commended: Fried Onions and Ringlets by Khadija Badri

Khadija is a community engagement worker with a background in migrant, refugee and child rights. Her first love was writing, and she often scribbles down stories in her spare time as a way of processing various different life experiences.

Khadija says: “Spread the Word’s online workshops during lockdown really reignited my love for writing, so it’s great to be part of the City of Stories Home programme. London is my adopted home, and I feel honoured to have my take on what it means to me included in this anthology.”

Southwark

Book a free place at the Southwark celebration event with host writer Lizzie Damilola Blackburn on Tuesday 21 June 6 – 8pm at Canada Water Library: cityofstorieshome-southwarklizziedamilolablackburn.eventbrite.co.uk

a woman with shoulder length dark hair and a fringe smiling at the camera Winner: The Worry Bush by Emma Robertson

Emma Robertson lives with her husband in Elephant & Castle. She finds time for writing around her full-time role as a dance teacher and has been published in a number of anthologies and literary magazines. She was recently longlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and will appear in their 2022 collection published later this year.

Emma says: “I’m thrilled to represent Southwark in the City of Stories Home anthology as it’s an honour to be published alongside other writers from across London. Taking part in the online workshop was fun and the connection with the local libraries is a great initiative. I’m proud to be chosen for the anthology.”

a picture of a woman with long dark hair smiling at the camera. She is standing in front of trees and city buildings. Highly Commended: Housewarming by Jennifer McGowan

Jennifer McGowan, 29, originally from Watford, now lives and writes in South East London. When she was younger she decided she wanted to be the first female manager of Watford FC, visit every country in the world and earn a living from writing. She’s still working on it. 

Jennifer says: “As the daughter of a librarian, it is a total privilege to be involved in a project celebrating the vital role that libraries play in our communities, as places of sanctuary, discovery and where people can feel at home. I am delighted that my little story resonated with the judges.”

Westminster

Book a free place at the Westminster celebration event with host writer Helen Bowell on Monday 13 June 6 – 8pm at Church Street Library: city-of-stories-home-westminster-helen-bowell.eventbrite.co.uk

a woman with long curly hair smiling at the cameraWinner: Home Safe by Loretta Ramkissoon

Loretta Ramkissoon is a writer and linguist from London. She completed a BA in Modern Languages and an MA in Translation Studies. She is currently working on her first novel, which explores mixed-faith and mixed-heritage upbringings. She was longlisted for Penguin Random House’s WriteNow 2018, is a London Writers Awardee 2019, and her piece ‘Which Floor?’ was published in Common People: An Anthology of Working-Class Writers.

Loretta says: “I’m honoured to be included in this anthology and to have taken part in the wonderful City of Stories Home programme. Westminster libraries have always been a huge part of my life and access to their books and services helped feed my inspiration and desire to write ­— long may they continue to nourish curious minds.”

East London

Barking and Dagenham 

Book a free place at the Barking and Dagenham celebration event with host writer Amita Murray on Monday 27 June 2 – 3.30pm at Barking Learning Centre: cityofstorieshomebarkinganddagenhamamitamurray.eventbrite.co.uk

Winner: a woman with long dark hair looking serious at the cameraHasten to Prayer by Shahema Tafader

Shahema is an illustrator and graphic designer from Barking, London. She holds three legal degrees and was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 2012. She has had her fiction, poetry and art published by Write On! Magazine and Write On! Extra, as well as poetry published by Minnow Literary Magazine.

Shahema says: “I took part in a class run by Amita Murray as part of the City of Stories Home programme. As someone who had not completed an English degree, I found it invaluable to learn from a teacher at degree level. I never dreamed this would result in making it into my first anthology – but here I am!”

a woman with a long dark bob looking at the camera with a slight smile. She is standing in front of a brick wall. Highly Commended: Plum Jam by Donna Thomson

Donna Thomson is a writer of fiction, and ever so drawn to Victorian and gothic influence. She is currently working on a novel and of recent, has collated her short stories for submission in order to bring them to life. She lives in London, with her cat.

Donna says: “The theme for City of Stories was ‘Home’. This is something I hope we can all relate too; an exterior that we show to the world, an interior that we keep hidden and the goings on behind a closed door. It was a pleasure to give this theme a deliciously dark twist… I am thrilled to be included in the anthology and very much enjoyed the programme, such a splendid way to while away an afternoon.”

Bexley

Book a free place at the Bexley celebration event with host writer Carinya Sharples on Tuesday 28 June 2 – 4pm at Central Library, Bexleyheath: cityofstorieshomebexleycarinyasharples.eventbrite.co.uk

a closeup of a woman smiling widely. She is wearing dangly gold earrings and her hair is in twists and is partially tied up.

Winner: Anchor of Hope by Toyah Panton

Toyah Panton (also known as Toyah Demi) is a London-born writer, spoken word poet and poetry performer. Through her writing, Toyah enjoys exploring her inner world and internal conversations of the soul.

Toyah says: “When it comes to writing, poetry is my comfort, but writing stories is something I’ve taken interest in from a young age. The City of Stories competition challenged me to capture a moment that could be shared. To those reading, I truly hope you appreciate the piece of my heart that I have laid on these pages.”

a man standing in front of some trees. He wears glasses and is wearing a dark blue shirt. Highly Commended: The View from Mars by Robert Butler

Robert Butler has worked for some while as a storyboard artist and illustrator, more recently also making music videos and designing album covers. Previous to that he was a computer programmer. Before that he worked in the fields of environmental conservation and archaeology.

Robert says: “The last few years on Earth have been pretty awful. Not so much Terra Firma as Terror Incognita. The City of Stories Home programme gave me a chance to escape imaginatively outward and to the future, where promise still exists and individuals as yet unborn will mark out their lives. I‘m very pleased and encouraged to be included in the anthology.”

Greenwich

Book a free place at the BSL Interpreted Greenwich celebration event with host writer Carinya Sharples on Tuesday 16 June 2 – 4pm at Eltham Centre Library, Greenwich: cityofstorieshomegreenwichcarinyasharples.eventbrite.co.uk

a person wearing long silver earrings and looking at the cameraWinner: Broken Wings by S M Smith

S M Smith is Parent Support for an inner London primary school.  She credits her writing success to the courses attended at The City Literary Institute in London.

S M says: “Broken Wings is a tale where birdsong heralds more than a lifelong partner. Libraries are so much more than a place to borrow books.  There are a plethora of activities taking place under its umbrella, from Baby Rhyme, craft sessions, use of computers, book reading clubs, and this is no more evident that each library user had the opportunity to take part in the City of Stories competition.  To participate in a free workshop was more than enough, to be able to enter a free competition was a bonus, but to win, well that really was mind blowing.”

a woman standing in front of a tree, smiling widely and wearing a purple polo neck. She has cropped blonde hair. Highly Commended: Move or Stay? by Maureen Stapleton

Maureen Stapleton, a journalist, has written for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Radio Times, Heat, and many others. She serves on the management teams for the Greenwich Book Festival and the Comedy Women in Print Prize, and is working on her first novel. As a dual British-American citizen, she is bilingual in hot drinks (coffee and tea).

Maureen says: “Living in a city with 8.9 million people means that we are lucky enough to be surrounded by millions of amazing stories. Thank you to Spread the Word for its wonderful City of Stories Home programme, which allowed many people to share their own stories. I am humbled and honoured to represent Greenwich, my home for the last 23 years.”

Hackney

Book a free place at the Hackney celebration event with host writer Lorraine Brown on Thursday 30 June 6-8pm at Stoke Newington Library: cityofstorieshomehackneylorrainebrown.eventbrite.co.uk

a photo of a woman wearing a frilly white shirt, holding a teacup and saucer. She has long wavy brunette hair. Winner: The Kettle by Erin Niimi Longhurst

Erin Niimi Longhurst is a British/Japanese author living in Hackney. She is the author of Japonisme (HarperCollins, 2018), Omoiyari (HarperCollins, 2020), and A Little Book of Japanese Contentments (Chronicle Books, 2018). Her written work is influenced by her dual heritage, and she also works as a Social Media Manager at a cultural organisation.

Erin says: “I am so delighted to have my submission included as part of the anthology, and to have been the selected writer for my borough! To have my submission read by such an incredible panel of judges was an honour in itself, so to have been featured in this anthology is really such a privilege.”

a photo of a man wearing dark rectangular glasses. He is looking down and smiling and has a slight beard. Highly Commended: Ten Steps from Home by Noah Birksted-Breen

Noah works at the intersection of the arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. He runs Sputnik Theatre Company, bringing translated drama to UK audiences. From 2017 to 2020, he was Associate Researcher (University of Oxford). In 2021, Noah completed an MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck. Publications include Beef (The Real Story) and Snow (Hinterland) – nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Noah says: “I loved The City of Stories Home programme and workshop – giving me the space to write a new story in a new approach.”

Havering

Book a free place at the Havering BSL interpreted celebration event with host writer Amita Murray on Wednesday 22 June 6-8pm at Hornchurch Library: cityofstorieshomehaveringamitamurray.eventbrite.co.uk

a woman wearing a black jumper in front of a raspberry bush. She has shoulder length black hair and is looking thoughtful.Winner: That Heartbreak Thing by Shupaula Mistry

Shupaula Mistry, born in Croydon, was a precocious child of first-generation immigrants. From the age of nine she started writing. Her interests include food, travel, sci fi and fantasy shows and sometimes doing nothing at all. She currently resides in Havering with her husband and two children. Although, her family may argue she actually lives in the library.

Shupaula says: “I have always enjoyed creative writing but hit the notorious writer’s block. When the City of Stories Home programme was advertised, I applied to participate. The workshop was inspirational and with advice from local authors I was encouraged to start writing again. I would recommend it to anyone wishing to write for the first time or trying to start again.”

a woman with curly hair smiling widely. Highly Commended: Home Improvements by Amanda Wynne

Havering libraries were a huge part of Amanda’s life while she studied at Frances Bardsley and Havering VI Form College. Later Amanda went on to study Archaeology at Cambridge University and University of Reading – working on projects in the US, Poland and Belgium. During the pandemic she moved back to Havering, while working remotely for the British Antarctic Survey in digital communications. Amanda has enjoyed fiction and non-fiction writing her whole life, and is always looking for the nearest library.

Amanda says: “My short story combines my love of libraries, Havering and Stephen King and it’s a huge thrill to be selected for publication in City of Stories Home. Libraries change lives, providing a home-from-home for the avid reader, and for many of us it’s the dedicated librarians who hold the keys to the kingdom. Check out my story to see what happens when a mysterious librarian wields their power a little too benevolently!”

Lewisham

Book a free place at the Lewisham celebration event with host writer Charlotte Heather on Thursday 23 June 6-8pm at The Library at Deptford Lounge: cityofstorieshomelewishamcharlotteheather.eventbrite.co.uk

a woman sitting in front of some rocks. She is smiling widely and is wearing a blue jumper.Winner: The Gathering by Ruth Bradshaw

Ruth Bradshaw writes short stories and creative non-fiction and works part-time in environmental policy. Her writing has been published in a number of journals, anthologies and websites including Reflex Fiction, The Clearing and Thorn Literary Magazine. When not writing or working she can often be found in the woods near her home in South London and occasionally on twitter @ruthc_b

Ruth says: “I’m really pleased my story has been chosen for inclusion in this anthology. ‘The Gathering’ is about what really makes a place a home which is something I found myself thinking about a lot after participating in the City of Stories Home workshop.”

Highly Commended: The alternative case note: ‘Aluna moved to a new foster placement’ by Harry Irvine

Harry grew up in London but moved to Lewisham in 2021 and feels lucky to be part of a welcoming community here. Harry loves this city so much and is delighted to be in an anthology celebrating it.

Harry says: “Thank you so much for including my short story in the anthology, I loved taking part in the City of Stories home programme, especially how passionate and creative the workshop facilitator and attendees were. This experience has given me the confidence to write more and means a lot.”

Newham

Book a free place at the Newham celebration event with host writer Amita Murray on Tuesday 28 June 6.30-8.30pm at Canning Town Library: cityofstorieshomenewhamamitamurray.eventbrite.co.uk

Jay is wearing glasses, has long hair and a nosering. They are holding their hands up.Winner: A Prison Gets to Be A Friend by Jay A Gee

Jay A Gee (they/them) is queer and nonbinary from the distant wilds of Yorkshire. Autistic with multiple sclerosis, Jay is a self-taught writer who escaped to Newham. Shortlisted for: Aesthetica Creative Writing Prize; Creative Future; Penguin Random House’s Write Now; The Literary Consultancy’s PEN Factor; A. M. Heath’s Free Reads Anthology. Twitter: @writejustincase

Jay says: “My whole life I’ve been taught I was worthless. But I survived; I’m a writer and have a home in London with my partner. I took part in City of Stories Home and won for Newham. It means the world to me. It’s validation that I deserve to be here. Now seeking opportunities and looking forward to what happens next.”

Marjorie is smiling widely and looking at the camera. Her hair is long and in braids. Highly Commended: The Nice One by Marjorie Browne

Born in London to parents from Jamaica and Nevis, Marjorie has lived in East London for over 34 years. She is currently Chair of Governors for an outstanding primary school. Marjorie is passionate about Diversity and Inclusion. She enjoys cinema, bingo, axe-throwing and beach volleyball. She also co-sponsors a child in Tanzania. Marjorie loves reading a wide variety of books.

Marjorie says: “I found the workshop really challenging and inspiring. I followed the tutor’s tips: Write daily even for 5 minutes and add some suspense. This story came to me a few days after the workshop, when I was thinking about my sister. I was surprised and elated when I discovered I had been selected as Highly Commended for my borough.”


Redbridge

Book a free place at the Redbridge celebration event with host writer Iqbal Hussain on Tuesday 14 June 5-7pm at Redbridge Central Library: cityofstorieshomeredbridgeiqbalhussain.eventbrite.co.uk

A woman with long curly dark hair, wearing a bright multicoloured top. She is looking thoughtfully at the camera.Winner: Waiting for God by Anneliese Amoah

Anneliese Amoah is a 26-year-old British-Ghanaian poet. Her past features and creative engagements include Cece’s Speakeasy in collaboration with Apples and Snakes and Spread The Word’s #WriteThroughThis anthology. Her work centres around the themes of tradition, family, race and religion. She can be found on Instagram @awordbya.

Anneliese says: This was my first time ever writing a short story. I was keen to take on a new challenge since I’m used to writing poetry. I wanted to incorporate poetic language into my short story and taking part in the City of Stories Home workshops inspired me to do this. I will definitely be writing more short stories in the future!”

Highly Commended: Like the Turtle by Jenny Gibson

Jenny Gibson has been writing both poetry and prose for a few years now. She has enjoyed courses in writing and has been included in a few anthologies. She has always loved stories, both hearing and telling them. Her grandmother used to tell her stories when she was a small child and that’s where it all started for her. 

Jenny says: “It is wonderful to be included in the Spread The Word Anthology. I enjoyed the workshop and the positive feedback from Iqbal Hussain and all the writers attending. This encouraged me to enter the competition and inspired me to write what is hopefully a thought-provoking story with a twist on what home means.”

Tower Hamlets

Book a free place at the Tower Hamlets celebration event with host writer Arun Das on Thursday 16 June 6-8pm at Cubitt Town Library: cityofstorieshometowerhamletsarundas.eventbrite.co.uk

Rosaleen is in front of a bright graffitied wall. She has long grey and curly hair, and is wearing a pair of glasses on top of her head. She is smiling.. Winner: Gummy Bears by Rosaleen Lynch

Rosaleen Lynch is an Irish youth and community worker and writer in the East End of London with words in Craft, Smokelong Quarterly, Jellyfish Review, EllipsisZine, Mslexia, Litro and Fish, shortlisted by Bath and the Bridport Prize, a winner of the HISSAC Flash Fiction Competition and the Oxford Flash Fiction Prize and can be found on Twitter @quotes_52 and 52Quotes.blogspot.com.

Rosaleen says: “Thanks City of Stories! I’ve learned so much in your wonderful and accessible online and library workshops over the years. Being published in the 2018 anthology encouraged me to keep writing and learning by attending Woolwich Writers, started by 2017 winner, Aris Tsontzos. Having ‘Gummy Bears’ chosen this year, as winner in my home borough, Tower Hamlets, is the cherry on top!”

Tom is tilting his head to the side and is looking thoughtfully at the camera.Highly Commended: Maginy by Tom O’Brien

Tom’s Novella-in-Flash are Straw Gods (Reflex Press), Homemade Weather (Retreat West) and One For The River (Ad Hoc). His work is Pushcart and Best Microfictions nominated. He’s the winner of the 2021 NFFD NZ Best Microfiction and the 2021 Biffy50 Microfiction. He’s on twitter @tomwrote and his website is www.tomobrien.co.uk.

Tom says: “I’m delighted and honoured to be part of City of Stories. It’s such an inclusive and exciting part of London’s writing and reading life. The work libraries and Spread the Word do is invaluable.”

Waltham Forest 

Book a free place at the Waltham Forest celebration event with host writer Ruth Goldsmith on Saturday 2 July 3-5pm at Leytonstone Library: cityofstorieshomewalthamforestruthgoldsmith.eventbrite.co.uk

Sam is wearing black thick rimmed glasses and is smiling. There is a fun reflective background in the photo. Winner: Accommodating by Sam Burt

Sam Burt is a former teacher, freelance editor and tutor based in sunny Leyton, where he chairs the East London Indie Book Club. His fiction has appeared in Popshot Quarterly, Bandit Fiction and Ink, Sweat and Tears. In 2022 he plans to launch a new online fiction magazine: pointbloc.wordpress.com

Sam says: “Writing can be a lonely business, but City of Stories felt different. These anthologies are a reminder that we are surrounded by storytellers on all sides. It means so much to me to see my words here. My story is about the hunger for, and difficulty of having, connection; its inclusion means that some kind of connection was made.”

Highly Commended: After by Christina Carè

Christina Carè is an Italian-Australian writer living in London. After studying Architecture, Art History and Philosophy, she’s gone from working on construction sites to interviewing creatives for Spotlight, turning data into compelling stories at Google, and writing for the F-Word, Entrepreneur.com, TEDx, among others. Previously a London Writers Awardee (2019) and Faber Academy scholarship winner (2020), she’s working on her debut novel represented by Kate Evans at Peters Fraser + Dunlop.

Christina says: “It’s a pleasure to be selected for the City of Stories Home anthology. I’m relatively new to Waltham Forest, and Ruth Goldsmith’s workshop enabled me to consider what I’m bringing with me as I settle in. About the beliefs we inherit in a family, carry with us, and which stick around no matter where our home ends up being. I’m grateful the project facilitated this exploration, and affirmed my love of writing.”

South London

Bromley

Book a free place at the Bromley celebration event with host writer Charlotte Heather on Friday 24 June 5 – 7pm at Bromley Central Library: cityofstorieshomebromleycharlotteheather.eventbrite.co.uk

Woman smiling wearing a striped topWinner: The Only Man at Zumba by Alice Tarleton

Alice Tarleton has worked as a journalist for nearly two decades, including 15 years in TV newsrooms. She is currently focused on raising her young children and spends a lot of time reading picture books over and over again and trying to remember where teddy was last seen. This is her first attempt at writing fiction.

Alice says: “I love reading and libraries, and I liked the idea of writing stories – but had never done anything about it on paper before. The programme’s wealth of stories and tips online acted as a springboard. Signing up for the creative writing workshop seemed daunting, but taking part turned out to be inspiring, accessible – and fun. Thank you!”

a woman with shoulder length blonde hair smiling widely, wearing a white top. Highly Commended: From Battersea with Love by Elaine Wedlock

Elaine Wedlock is a Mum of two, a Social Researcher in the Ministry of Justice and a mad cat lady. She is an avid reader so she naively thought she could try her hand at creative writing. It turned out to be much harder than she thought but she is going to give it a good go anyway.

Elaine says: “The City of Stories workshop gave me the confidence to have a go at creative writing. This is my first short story, and I am absolutely thrilled for it to be included in the anthology. The whole experience has fired me up to write more fiction.”

Croydon

Book a free place at the Croydon celebration event with host writer Jemilea Wisdom-Baako on Saturday 25 June 10am – 12pm at Croydon Central Library: cityofstorieshomecroydonjemileawisdombaako.eventbrite.co.uk

a black and white photo of a woman with long dark hair smiling at the cameraWinner: This is Us by Elizabeth Uter

Elizabeth Uter is an award-winning short story writer and poet, winning Brent City Of Stories Competition – 2017, 2018 Poem for Slough Competition. She’s facilitated Farrago Poetry workshops; Performed at Queen’s Park Literary Festival, London. Published: 2019 – Reach/Sarasvati Magazines, Bollocks To Brexit Anthology, 2020 Writing from Inlandia; 2021, This Is Our Place Anthology. https://momentsalongtheway.wordpress.com

Elizabeth says: “I’m absolutely chuffed to bits to have This Is Us in the City of Stories Home Anthology, it’s an absolute honour. I enjoyed taking part via Zoom in the workshops organised by various boroughs. I probably attended them all, they were so good! I was inspired to write my piece by some amazing writers facilitating and offering advice throughout. A truly magical experience.”


a woman smiling with blonde curly hair Highly Commended: No Place Like Home by Sayyara Nurmahomed

Sayyara works and advocates for young people. Sayyara graduated with an honorary LLB and is a mother of one. Sayyara discovered a passion for poetry, as a means of self expression allowing vulnerability to be heard and seen as a strength. Sayyara started writing later in life through her love for Spoken Word and the Performing Arts.

Sayyara says: “I am delighted to have my work included in the City of Stories Home anthology. I feel humbled and honoured to be representing Croydon and thank the programme for recognising my work, in providing the opportunity to participate.  I found the home programme helpful and informative. I enjoyed exploring a variety of writing prompts and topics to diversify my writing journey.”

Kingston upon Thames

Book a free place at the Kingston celebration event with host writer Maame Blue on Friday 24 June 2-4pm at Kingston Library: city-of-stories-home-kingston-maame-blue.eventbrite.co.uk

a photo of a woman with cropped grey hair wearing glasses, small dangly earrings and a patterned black and white scarfWinner: Moving On by Chris Williams

Chris’s short stories have appeared in local anthologies and a national woman’s magazine, and ‘Pulling Strings’ currently features in the online CornerHOUSE ‘Radio Shorts’.  If she’s not reading, she’s writing, or she’s travelling by train and writing about it. A BA in English Literature later on in life formalised earlier locally-run writing classes, and legitimised eavesdropping at any opportunity.

Chris says: “Taking part in the City of Stories Home programme offered exposure to a wealth of knowledge and experience of writers and fellow participants alike and a chance to try different approaches in my own writing.  Free sessions with inspirational authors! A fantastic opportunity – and I’m thrilled to be included in this anthology as a result.”

a woman with short dark bobbed hair smiling at the camera. She is on a beach, which you can see in the background.Highly Commended: Home by Heather Mathew

Heather grew up in West London and her love of reading and creative writing was nurtured from a young age by her parents, her school and a wonderful local library. Heather has worked in the charity sector for over 25 years, and enjoys living and working in an area rich with green spaces, wonderful arts venues, and the beauty of the River Thames.

Heather says: “I really enjoyed the City of Stories workshop I attended, and was inspired by the writing prompts, and the pieces shared by fellow attendees. ” Home” is inspired by my experience of visiting my parents. My inclusion in the anthology is dedicated to them, with grateful thanks for the belief they always had in my ability to write.”

Merton

Book a free place at the Merton celebration event with host writer  Jemilea Wisdom-Baako  on Saturday 11 June 2.30-4.30pm at Colliers Wood Library: cityofstorieshomemertonjemileawisdombaako.eventbrite.co.uk

a woman with a short sleek dark blob wearing an orange jumper. She is sat at a table and looks over to her sideWinner: Australian Made by Lui Sit

Lui Sit writes short fiction, memoir, non-fiction and children’s middle grade. She is a recipient of the, A Brief Pause, London Writers Award, WriteNow & Megaphone writers’ development schemes. Her short stories are published online and in print journals and anthologies. She is also a trained dance anthropologist and cat devotee. She can be found at @Lui_Loowee_Sit

Lui says: “I’m excited and proud to be part of an anthology representing Merton borough which has been my home since leaving Australia 17 years ago. The City of Stories Home programme reflects how London lives are rich with stories. I would have taken part in all of the workshops if I could have!”

a photo of a man wearing a cream open jacket, looking to the side and smiling.Highly Commended: My Voice by Steven Moe

Steven Moe writes short stories and is working on his first novel. After a 25-year hiatus from creative writing, Steve joined a local writing group composed of parents from his children’s school. Steve is an IT professional by day writer by early morning and night. Born in America, Steve has lived in Merton for the last 20 years and loves running, good food, and margaritas.

Steven says: “Thanks, City of Stories Home, for allowing me to meet fellow local writers and get my work published!”

Sutton

Book a free place at the BSL interpreted Sutton celebration event with host writer Maame Blue on Wednesday 15 June 11am-1pm at Sutton Central Library: cityofstorieshomesuttonmaameblue.eventbrite.co.uk

a picture of a woman with long reddish hair and smiling at the camera. She is wearing a grey and black checked shirt and is standing in front of trees. Winner: The Last Place by Miranda Lewis

Miranda Lewis is a retired teacher. She grew up in the countryside, but has lived and worked in London for most of her adult life. Miranda is a passionate gardener and enjoys exploring the city’s green spaces and hidden corners. Her story is set out in the fields of Sutton Community Farm where she volunteers regularly.

Miranda says: “I really enjoyed taking part in the City of Stories workshop with Charlotte Heather. Charlotte created a supportive space in which to write and share our work. The theme of Home allowed me to engage both experience and imagination and I am delighted my story is included in this anthology.”

a woman wearing a bright yellow jacket with long blonde hair and gold hoop earringsHighly Commended: South of the river above the clouds in the night sky by Becky Bone

Becky began writing in the form of stand-up and sketch comedy and is an accomplished improviser and interactive theatre performer. She is a recent Birkbeck graduate with a BA in Creative Writing and English, and her poems have been published online and in print with Streetcake, Culture Matters, and Spread the Word.

Becky says: “Home can mean many things, and the online workshops I attended as part of the City of Stories Home programme explored this. They inspired me to go back to a very rough draft and play around with it, and I’m proud that this story is now being included in the anthology as the Highly Commended entry for Sutton.”

Wandsworth

Book a free place at the Wandsworth celebration event with host writer Annie Hayter on Thursday 16 June 6-8pm at Balham Library: city-of-stories-home-wandsworth-annie-hayter.eventbrite.co.uk

a photo of a man with short cropped hair standing in front of a brick wallWinner: Sticks and Stones by Rizwan Piracha

Rizwan Piracha was born in Streatham but spent much of his youth in Karachi. Despite these early setbacks he went on to become a successful supermarket shelf filler and hospital filing clerk. His short story ‘Lateef’s Room’ appeared in the 2016 Bridport Prize Anthology, sales of which doubled when the contributing authors discovered they’d only get one free copy.

Rizwan says: “London’s public libraries have helped to create writers and readers and encouraged countless curious minds to stay curious. I’ve enjoyed participating in the City of Stories Home programme and look forward to reading the anthology. And of course I’m pleased about the inclusion of one of my own stories!”

a photo of a woman with long brunette hair wearing a purple tshirt and smiling widely. Highly Commended: Arteries of the Home by Helena Michalacopoulos

Helena is a special needs teacher working with age 18 plus. She has not written stories in a long time but began again during the pandemic. Her cat often strolls into any story she writes as he did in this one. She enjoys living near her family. The workshop she attended was excellent and thank you for running this scheme.

Helena says: “As a dyslexic child I always wanted to write stories but they were often returned to me covered in red ink and with negative comments. It means a lot to me to have my writing as part of this anthology and I am looking forward to reading everyone’s stories.”

West London

Brent

Book a free place at the Brent celebration event with host writer Lorraine Brown on Tuesday 21 June 6.30-8.30pm at The Library at Willesden Green: city-of-stories-home-brent-lorraine-brown.eventbrite.co.uk

a photo of a woman with short curly hair smiling widelyWinner: Home Comfort by Kate Elliott

Kate Elliott grew up with a love of reading and the theatre. She lives in London and has worked for Brent Libraries for over 20 years. Kate enjoys attending arts and cultural events. Writing has recently become an interest and ‘Home Comfort’ is her first published short story.

Kate says: “I am absolutely delighted that Home Comfort been chosen as the winning entry for my home borough of Brent and will be published in the anthology. Huge thanks to the City of Stories Home team for offering this programme and to writer-facilitator, Lorraine Brown who led some of the workshops. You gave me the motivation to submit my story.”

Ealing

Book a free place at the Ealing celebration event with host writer Shagufta K Iqbal on Tuesday 28 June 2-4pm at Ealing Central Library: cityofstorieshomeealingshaguftakiqbal.eventbrite.co.uk

a woman with a black bob smiling slightlyWinner: Turning the Page by Rebecca Dyer

Rebecca Dyer was born in Chelmsford, Essex, and has lived in various boroughs of London since 2001. After studying at Goldsmiths University, she began a career as a sub-editor, working for magazines, websites and newspapers. She currently works as a freelance editor and lives in Acton with her partner.

Rebecca says: “I’m delighted to have my entry included in the City of Stories Home anthology and take part in the programme. I’ve always loved working with words and have written sporadically throughout my life, so I look forward to seeing my name in print.”

a woman wearing a bright blue hijab. She is wearing glasses and looks thoughtfully at the camera.Highly Commended: Where the hand is by Sofia A Koutlaki

Sofia A Koutlaki’s trajectory traced a line through English literature, the Classics, and the interface of language and culture. A life-long observer of Iranians, she wrote about them in her PhD and the book Among the Iranians (2010). After fourteen years lecturing in Tehran, she now writes life stories and facilitates online groups (Memoir Writing; Stoic practice) www.sofiakoutlaki.com

Sofia says: “The workshops helped me capture the magic of London from childhood until now: the smells and sights of a brand-new place in early youth, the pain of missing loved ones, the excitement of tracing the steps of famous writers, and the demolition of certainties. In online spaces with other writers, I pulled the strands that make up one writing life.”

Hammersmith and Fulham 

Book a free place at the Hammersmith and Fulham celebration event with host writer Chris Simpson on Wednesday 22 June 2-4pm at Fulham Library: cityofstorieshomehammersmithandfulhamchrissimpson.eventbrite.co.uk

a woman with long grey hair and black glasses. She looks thoughtfully at the camera. Winner: London Underground August 1962 by Sandra Anlin

Sandra Anlin is almost a septuagenarian and lives in White City. Since retirement, she has taken creative writing classes and written short stories. Her ambition, however, is to write a novel about the lives and loves of Suffragettes, not just the women but the men, too, who supported the cause and endured forcible feeding.

Sandra says: “The workshops were inspiring. My first 100 words at the session morphed into my submission. I’m thrilled to be a winner. Never expected that in a heartbeat. It was always about taking part, the discipline of the very short story form, and meeting a deadline.”

a woman with tortoiseshell glasses wearing pink lipstick and a flowery shirt, smiling at the camera. Highly Commended: The Expat Brat by Suze Lord

Suze Lord lives in London now but grew up in Borneo before attending boarding school in the Midlands. She floated around rootless until she had a family and planted them in Sussex. Later, after years of working in Marketing and writing adverts and cosmetic bottle labels, she decided to start putting down on paper hers’ and others’ experiences, real and imagined.

Suze says: “I’m beyond excited to be included in the City of Stories Home anthology. This represents my first published work and first experience of winning a writing prize. I took part in two of this year’s workshops and found them to be useful and inspiring. I would encourage every Londoner with a writing itch, to join in and scratch it.”

Harrow

Book a free place at the Harrow celebration event with host writer Maame Blue on Friday 17 June 2-4pm at Greenhill Library: cityofstorieshomeharrowmaameblue.eventbrite.co.uk

a woman with short curly grey hair sat at a table drinking from a white mugWinner: My Home by Joan Pollack

Joan Pollack was born in Toronto, Canada and has been British now for quite a few years. Joan is a second-generation Jew born to two holocaust survivors of concentration camps of Nazi Europe in World War 2. She loves creative writing in groups and recommends it to anyone.

Richmond upon Thames

Book a free place at the Richmond celebration event with host writer Chris Simpson on Thursday 23 June 2-4pm at Twickenham Library: cityofstorieshomerichmondchrissimpson.eventbrite.co.uk

a black and white photo of a man leaning on his hand looking up to his rightWinner: Dust by Roly Grant

After studying modern history at Oxford University, Roly Grant worked as a graphic designer, founding a studio in 2006. In 2019 he took a short story writing course at City University of London. Dust is his second piece of short fiction. He lives in East Sheen.

Roly says: “It’s taken me half a lifetime to knuckle down and start writing the stories I felt I should. Opportunities like this offer structure and encouragement; that little push. Thank you to everyone involved and I’m delighted to be part of it.”

a woman with long brown hair looking to the leftHighly Commended: Figures by Ana Santi

Ana Santi is a journalist, writer and editor. She has written for the Guardian and The Times, and is the author of Three Things to Help Heal the Planet, her non-fiction debut. Ana is the co-editor of Comfort Zones, an anthology of women writers, which includes her fictionalised account of growing up in Brazil. ‘Figures’ is Ana’s first short story.

Ana says: “I love London because of the people who live here: generous, tolerant, diverse. So it’s brilliant to see these qualities expressed and celebrated through original writing. It’s a privilege to be among the voices in the City of Stories Home programme.”

Hillingdon

Book a free place at the Hillingdon celebration event with host writer Shagufta K Iqbal on Friday 1 July 7-9pm at Uxbridge Library: cityofstorieshomehillingdonshaguftakiqbal.eventbrite.co.uk

a woman with grey hair tied back looking at the camera wearing a pink jumperWinner: Home is Where the Heart Is by Rekha Wadhwani

Rekha Wadhwani has lived in Hillingdon since 1992 and enjoys arts and craft, including writing. Rekha believes that learning never stops and a member of different groups in the borough and learning from others. Rekha is a coordinator for Project Linus UK making and collecting patchwork quilts and blankets for children, who would benefit from a hug.

Rekha says: “When I heard about this Anthology, I thought it was an opportunity to let some of my pent-up emotions out on paper. Thinking it may just strike a chord in someone’s heart, in the same situation, and that they weren’t alone made put my words down.”

a man wearing glasses looking at the cameraHighly Commended: A Tale of One City by David O’Sullivan

Dave is a motor mechanic and budding author. Fixing cars pays his bills, but writing stories makes him happy. And happiness is the cure to everything. He lives in Ruislip, West London with his wife, five children and Buddy the border terrier, who is quite mad.

David says: “As someone who has lived in London all their life – albeit on the suburban fringe, I was thrilled to have my work commended. I wanted to convey the extremes that city living has to offer. The world can be at your feet or its weight borne upon your shoulders. A five foot difference. Not much of a shift really.”

Hounslow

Book a free place at the Hounslow celebration event with host writer Arun Das on Thursday 9 June 6-8pm at Feltham Library: cityofstorieshomehounslowarundas.eventbrite.co.uk

a woman wearing a stripey black and white tshirt with shoulder length blonde hairWinner: The House of Paper by Megan McIntyre

After completing a BA in English Literature (Melbourne University) and Graduate Diploma in Journalism (La Trobe University), Megan left her native Australia to backpack around North America before arriving in the UK. Brief stints in publishing and freelance travel writing led to her current role in marketing for a range of travel, hospitality and tech companies. She lives in West London with a great view of Heathrow’s air traffic, which she tries to not let distract her from working on her writing.

Megan says: “City of Stories has rekindled my joy of writing. The workshop with Arun Das was both practical and inspirational; I left with an urge to write! The broadness of ‘home’ as a theme was thought-provoking, leaving ample room for creative interpretation. To me, home isn’t a place: it’s a feeling of safety and calmness shared with people you love. I’m excited to share my work as part of the City of Stories anthology, and look forward to reading the stories from across London.”

a woman wearing thick glasses and shoulder length hair. She is smiling slightly at the camera. Highly Commended: Home – 1975 by Joanna Samuels

Joanna Samuels was born and schooled in the borough of Hounslow, and went on to enjoy a career in the theatre and television industries. She achieved her goal of becoming a casting director, working with many inspirational writers and creatives, mostly in comedy. She now works part time alongside being a Mum.

Joanna says: “I came across the online workshop and quickly signed up before I could talk myself out of it. I thoroughly enjoyed it and wished it could have lasted longer. I got some great tips and ideas and my entry is the result of what began in that workshop. I am delighted to be included in the anthology.”

 

You can find out more about City of Stories Home here: www.spreadtheword.org.uk/projects/cityofstorieshome/

Published 4 May 2022

class="post-53087 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-opportunities"City of Stories Home celebration events
open for bookingan illustrated Cityscape and inside of a library

City of Stories Home celebrates London’s libraries as places to make and share stories, and is run as a partnership between London Libraries and Spread the Word. 

Throughout June, the City of Stories Home offers 33 free workshops in libraries across London, with special readings marking the publication of the City of Stories Home Anthology.
The Anthology features over 70 short stories written by London writers on the theme of home. 63 of the anthology stories features winning and highly commended writers from the City of Stories Home writing competition which was open to London writers who attended a free City of Stories Home workshop in February.

At the events you’ll be able to:

All are welcome! They’re a great opportunity for you to connect with other local writers. You can choose to come to the whole event, or just the workshop or just the reading.

City of Stories Celebration Events – Book Now

Please book your place using the links below which take you through to Eventbrite. We know that Eventbrite is not accessible to people with visual impairments – if you would rather book by email please email hello@spreadtheword.org.uk stating the workshop date and time.

Five of the events are BSL interpreted (Lambeth, Sutton, Greenwich, Havering and Kensington and Chelsea).

Lambeth

Streatham Library

Wednesday 8 June, 6.30 – 8.30pm

*BSL Interpreted*

Hosted by: Helen Bowell 

Book now: lambeth-libraries-city-of-stories-home.eventbrite.co.uk

Hounslow 

Feltham Library

Thursday 9 June, 6 – 8pm

Hosted by: Arun Das

Book now: cityofstorieshomehounslowarundas.eventbrite.co.uk

Merton

Colliers Wood Library

Saturday 11 June, 2.30 – 4.30pm

Hosted by: Jemilea Wisdom-Baako 

Book now: cityofstorieshomemertonjemileawisdombaako.eventbrite.co.uk

Westminster

Church Street Library

Monday 13 June, 6 – 8pm

Hosted by: Helen Bowell 

Book now: city-of-stories-home-westminster-helen-bowell.eventbrite.co.uk

Redbridge 

Redbridge Central Library

Tuesday 14 June, 5 – 7pm

Hosted by: Iqbal Hussain

Book now: cityofstorieshomeredbridgeiqbalhussain.eventbrite.co.uk

Sutton

Sutton Central Library

Wednesday 15 June, 11am – 1pm 

*BSL Interpreted*

Hosted by: Maame Blue

Book now: cityofstorieshomesuttonmaameblue.eventbrite.co.uk

Camden

Pancras Square Library

Wednesday 15 June, 6 – 8pm

Hosted by: S. Niroshini

Book now: cityofstorieshomecamdensniroshini.eventbrite.co.uk

Greenwich

Eltham Centre Library

Thursday 16 June, 2 – 4pm

*BSL Interpreted*

Hosted by: Carinya Sharples

Book now: cityofstorieshomegreenwichcarinyasharples.eventbrite.co.uk

Tower Hamlets

Cubitt Town Library

Thursday 16 June, 6 – 8pm

Hosted by: Arun Das

Book now: cityofstorieshometowerhamletsarundas.eventbrite.co.uk

Wandsworth

Balham Library

Thursday 16 June, 6 – 8pm

Hosted by: Annie Hayter

Book now: city-of-stories-home-wandsworth-annie-hayter.eventbrite.co.uk

Harrow

Greenhill Library

Friday 17 June, 2 – 4pm

Hosted by: Maame Blue

Book now: cityofstorieshomeharrowmaameblue.eventbrite.co.uk

Haringey

Wood Green Library

Tuesday 21 June, 2-4pm 

Hosted by: Lorraine Brown

Book now: cityofstorieshomeharingeylorrainebrown.eventbrite.co.uk

Southwark

Canada Water Library

Tuesday 21 June, 6 – 8pm 

Hosted by: Lizzie Damilola Blackburn 

Book now: cityofstorieshome-southwarklizziedamilolablackburn.eventbrite.co.uk

Brent

The Library at Willesden Green

Tuesday 21 June, 6.30 – 8.30pm 

Hosted by: Lorraine Brown

Book now: city-of-stories-home-brent-lorraine-brown.eventbrite.co.uk

Hammersmith & Fulham

Fulham Library

Wednesday 22 June, 2 – 4pm 

Hosted by: Chris Simpson 

Book now: cityofstorieshomehammersmithandfulhamchrissimpson.eventbrite.co.uk

Havering 

Hornchurch Library

Wednesday 22 June, 6 – 8pm 

*BSL Interpreted*

Hosted by: Amita Murray 

Book now: cityofstorieshomehaveringamitamurray.eventbrite.co.uk

Richmond

Twickenham Library

Thursday 23 June, 2 – 4pm

Hosted by: Chris Simpson

Book now: cityofstorieshomerichmondchrissimpson.eventbrite.co.uk

Lewisham

Library at Deptford Lounge

Thursday 23 June, 6 – 8pm

Hosted by: Charlotte Heather

Book now: cityofstorieshomelewishamcharlotteheather.eventbrite.co.uk

Islington

Islington Central Library

Thursday 23 June, 6 – 7.30pm

Hosted by: Shagufta K Iqbal 

Book now: cityofstorieshomeislingtonshaguftakiqbal.eventbrite.co.uk

Kingston

Kingston Library

Friday 24 June, 2 – 4pm 

Hosted by: Maame Blue 

Book now: city-of-stories-home-kingston-maame-blue.eventbrite.co.uk

Bromley 

Bromley Central Library

Friday 24 June, 5 – 7pm

Hosted by: Charlotte Heather 

Book now: cityofstorieshomebromleycharlotteheather.eventbrite.co.uk

Croydon

Croydon Central Library

Saturday 25 June, 10am – 12pm

Hosted by: Jemilea Wisdom-Baako

Book now: cityofstorieshomecroydonjemileawisdombaako.eventbrite.co.uk

Enfield

Enfield Town Library

Saturday 25 June, 2 – 4pm 

Hosted by: Carinya Sharples

Book now: cityofstorieshomeenfieldcarinyasharples.eventbrite.co.uk

Barking & Dagenham 

Barking Learning Centre

Monday 27 June, 2 – 3.30pm

Hosted by: Amita Murray

Book now: cityofstorieshomebarkinganddagenhamamitamurray.eventbrite.co.uk

Bexley

Central Library, Bexleyheath

Tuesday 28 June, 2 – 4pm

Hosted by: Carinya Sharples

Book now: cityofstorieshomebexleycarinyasharples.eventbrite.co.uk

Ealing

Ealing Central Library

Tuesday 28 June, 2 – 4pm

Hosted by: Shagufta K Iqbal

Book now: cityofstorieshomeealingshaguftakiqbal.eventbrite.co.uk

Newham

East Ham Library

Tuesday 28 June, 6.30 – 8pm

Hosted by: Amita Murray

Book now: cityofstorieshomenewhamamitamurray.eventbrite.co.uk

Barnet

Chipping Barney Library

Thursday 30 June, 6 – 8pm

Hosted by: Annie Hayter

Book now: cityofstorieshomebarnetanniehayter.eventbrite.co.uk

Kensington & Chelsea

Kensington Central Library

*BSL Interpreted*

Thursday 30 June, 6 – 8pm

Hosted by: Jemilea Wisdom-Baako

Book now: cityofstorieshomekensington-jemileawisdombaako.eventbrite.co.uk

Hackney

Stoke Newington Library

Thursday 30 June, 6 – 8pm

Hosted by: Lorraine Brown

Book now: cityofstorieshomehackneylorrainebrown.eventbrite.co.uk

Hillingdon

Uxbridge Library

Friday 1 July, 7 – 9pm

Hosted by: Shagufta K Iqbal

Book now: cityofstorieshomehillingdonshaguftakiqbal.eventbrite.co.uk

City of London

Barbican Library

Saturday 2 July, 10am – 12pm

Hosted by: Tice Cin

Book now: cityofstorieshomecityoflondonticecin.eventbrite.co.uk

Waltham Forest

Leytonstone Library

Saturday 2 July, 3 – 5pm

Hosted by: Ruth Goldsmith

Book now: cityofstorieshomewalthamforestruthgoldsmith.eventbrite.co.uk

About the City of Stories Home Hosts

a picture of a woman looking at the camera looking thoughtfulAmita Murray
I’m a writer, based in London. The first of my Arya Winters series of quirky mystery novels – Arya Winters and the Tiramisu of Death – came out with Polis Books in October 2021 and is under a TV option shopping agreement with Renegade Pictures, a Warner Brothers company based in London. A starred review by Publishers Weekly says that the novel is ‘full of original metaphors and pithily funny descriptions’, and it ‘turns the cosy genre on its head.’ My previous novel The Trouble with Rose came out with HarperCollins in 2019. My collection Marmite and Mango Chutney won the SI Leeds Literary Prize in 2016 and it was part-written under a Leverhulme grant based at University College London. I’ve been a Literature Works writer-in-residence at Plymouth University, and taught creative writing at the University of East Anglia and the New College of the Humanities. My stories have been published in Wasafiri, Sand Berlin, Brand, Aesthetica and others.

The image shows a white person, Annie Hayter, smiling. They have bobbed blondish hair, black winged eyeliner and red lipstick. They are wearing a navy-blue suit jacket with a white shirt and paisley patterned tie, and are standing up against a crunchy-looking cement wall, face on to the camera.

Annie Hayter was shortlisted for Young People’s Laureate for London and is an alumnus of Barbican Young Poets and London Writers Awards. They are invested in writing about queerness and myth-making, and have been shortlisted in the London Short Story Prize, commended for the Bristol Short Story Prize and longlisted for the Alpine Fellowship and Mslexia Flash Fiction. They came third in the Cúirt New Writing Prize for Poetry, with a squelching series entitled ‘The Great Lives of Pope Joan’, a faux-hagiography about this legendary figure in genderflux.  They won BBC Proms Young Poet 2011 and were runner-up for Times Young Poet 2012. They’ve performed at the Southbank Centre, Barbican, Queer Fringe, Verve Poetry Festival, and Radio 3. Published in MAGMA, Tentacular, Bedtime Stories for the End of the World and TimeOut.  They have run workshops with Crisis, Headway East London, the Anna Freud Centre, National Youth Orchestra, The Albany, The Floating Classroom, and Writerz & Scribez. 

a picture of a man standing inbetween a row of buildings looking thoughtfully at the cameraArun Das is a former Television Producer and Journalist. After a rare illness forced him to hit the pause button, he turned to writing fiction. His story ‘Words for Sounds’ was published after being shortlisted for The Guardian 4th Estate BAME short story prize. An early draft of his first novel won him a London Writers Award from Spread The Word. He is currently working on his second novel. Arun is represented by Oli Munson from A.M Heath. 

A smiling woman in a green top pictured against a white background.

Carinya Sharples is a writer, facilitator and occasional library assistant from Lewisham. Her creative writing has been published by The London Reader, The Guyana Annual, Commonwealth Writers’ adda and was selected by Kendal Mountain Literature Festival as part of its Open Mountain showcase in 2021. She was also shortlisted for Rebel Women Lit’s Caribbean Reader’s Awards 2020 (Non-Fiction Individual Pieces) and Flipside Festival’s GAWP! Green Alphabet Writing Prize 2017, and longlisted for Mslexia’s Short Story Competition 2021. In 2020, she completed an MA in Creative Writing & Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, and co-edited the book ‘Inspire: Exciting Ways of Teaching Creative Writing’. She previously worked as a freelance journalist for BBC World Service, The Pavement, Gal-Dem and many others. 

Charlotte, a white person with short hair wearing a beanie, round glasses, black trousers and a blue shirt, sits in the corner of a room with the bright white light of a projector on one wall. Charlotte rests their elbows on their knees and has their fingers laced with palms out, as if stretching. They are looking down with their mouth open as if they are speaking.Charlotte Heather is a writer and workshop facilitator. 

 

 

Writer Chris Simpson reading at a live event - he is standing in front of a microphone stand and reading from a book

Chris Simpson grew up in Bracknell and Slough. He has worked as a waiter, a cinema projectionist, a shoe salesman, an attendant in an amusement arcade, hiring out construction and demolition tools, a pasty seller, a caretaker for a primary school, a teaching assistant, a tutor and a facilities manager. He was a collaborator on a sketch show and has performed as a stand-up comedian. In 2021 he was published alongside Kit de Waal, Kerry Hudson, Philip Ridley and twenty five other writers in MAINSTREAM from Inkandescent Publishers. In 2020 he had a special mention for the Spread the Word Life Writing Prize. In 2019 he was nominated for the inaugural Agora and PFD Lost The Plot Prize. In 2018 he was an awardee of the inaugural Spread The Word’s London Writers Award. He received a First in Creative Writing at BA level from Birkbeck University. In 2016 he was nominated for the Royal Academy and Pin Drop Short Story Award 2016. He lives in London and is at work on a novel. 

Helen Bowell, a Chinese and British young woman, wearing a purple jumper smiles in front of a bookcase.

Helen Bowell is a London-based poet and co-director of Dead [Women] Poets Society. She is a Ledbury Poetry Critic, and an alumna of The Writing Squad, the London Library Emerging Writers Programme, London Writers Awards and the Roundhouse Poetry Collective. Helen won the 2020 Bronze Creative Future Writers Award, and was commended in the 2021 Verve Poetry Competition, 2021 Winchester Poetry Prize, and the 2020 Mslexia Poetry Competition. Her poems have appeared in Magma, bath magg, Poetry Birmingham, Ambit and elsewhere. Her debut pamphlet The Barman is forthcoming from Bad Betty Press in 2022. She works at The Poetry Society.

a man holding a camera and smiling

Iqbal Hussain’s short story “The Boy with the Green Eyes” was published in the Leicester Writes Short Story anthology in September 2021. He is one of fifteen emerging writers to feature in the Mainstream anthology by Inkandescent, published July 2021. His short story “A Home from Home” won Gold prize in the Creative Future Writers’ Awards 2019. He is a recipient of the inaugural London Writers’ Awards 2018 and was shortlisted for the Penguin Random House WriteNow scheme 2017. Iqbal’s first novel, Northern Boy, is currently out on submission.  You can read his City of Stories Home commissioned story ‘All Her Tomorrows’ here.

The image is a close up of a Black woman with shoulder length black hair wearing brown and gold glasses. She is wearing a sleeveless grey top, looking directly at the camera and smiling. Behind her is a blurred image of flowers and foliage.

Jemilea Wisdom-Baako is a British-Jamaican poet. A London Writers Award recipient she was shortlisted for the Rebecca Swift Women’s Poetry Prize and The Bridport Poetry Prize. A graduate of the Advanced Faber Poetry Course her work appears in Magma, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Good Journal, and elsewhere. She runs the arts company Writerz and Scribez CIC and is currently working on her first pamphlet. Writerz and Scribez is an innovative non-profit creative arts company built on the foundation that art changes lives. Based in London, we are committed to providing high-quality unique creative experiences that push art into places where it’s not usually found. We make arts accessible to all, and provide workshops that centre wellbeing for all. 

Headshot of author Lizzie Damilola Blackburn

Lizzie Damilola Blackburn is a British-Nigerian writer, born in Peckham, who wants to tell the stories that she and her friends have longed for but never seen – romcoms ‘where Cinderella is Black and no-one bats an eyelid’. In 2019 she won the Literary Consultancy Pen Factor Writing Competition with the early draft of ‘Yinka, Where is your Huzband?’, which she had been writing alongside juggling her job at Carers UK. She has been at the receiving end of the question in the title of her novel many times, and now lives with her husband in Milton Keynes.

a closeup of a woman's face looking and smiling slightly at the camera

North London-based Lorraine Brown’s varied background spans fashion journalism and acting, giving her a unique take on storytelling. She also worked as a school receptionist whilst writing and taking a postgraduate diploma in psychodynamic counselling. She currently delivers counselling sessions alongside writing novels. The manuscript of what became Lorraine’s debut novel THE PARIS CONNECTION, which includes themes of financial hardship and challenging family dynamics, was longlisted for the Bath Novel award in 2016, after which she was chosen to be part of Penguin Random House’s WriteNow scheme, which aims to launch the careers of writers from backgrounds currently under-represented in the publishing industry. The novel was published in paperback by Orion Fiction in January 2022, as well as by Penguin Random House in the US last summer, and has also sold to twelve foreign territories worldwide including Germany, Italy and Portugal. Lorraine’s second novel, SORRY I MISSED YOU, will be out in June 2022.

Maame Blue smiling and looking over her left shoulder with a book case behind her

Maame Blue is a Ghanaian-Londoner and author of the novel Bad Love, which won the 2021 Betty Trask award, and was shortlisted for the Betty Trask Prize. Her short story ‘Howl’ was featured in the KYD New Australian Fiction 2020 anthology, and her story ‘Prodigal’ appears in the Speaking Volumes anthology Not Quite Right For Us. In 2020 she joined a scriptwriting team to remix a Venezuelan telenovela for African audiences, and her writing has since appeared in various places including Writers Mosaic, The Independent, Black Ballad, and as part of the British Council UK/ Australia Season 2021 – 2022. She also has works and writing workshops forthcoming in 2022.

Image of Poet, in foreground holding a megaphone in her right hand, with a wooden background.

Founder of Kiota Bristol and the Yoniverse, Shagufta K Iqbal is an award-winning writer, workshop facilitator and Tedx Speaker. She has been described by gal-dem as a poet whose work ‘leaves you validated but aching – her narratives are important, heart-wrenching and relatable.’ Her poetry collection ‘Jam Is For Girls, Girls Get Jam’, has been recommended by Nikesh Shukla as ‘a social political masterclass.’ Her poetry film ‘Borders’ has won several awards, and has been screened across international film festivals. She is also published in ‘Slam: You’re Gonna Wanna Hear This’, with Macmillan books. She is currently writing her second poetry collection and debut novel.

Head and shoulders photo of Ruth Goldsmith, wearing green jumper, against backdrop of Walthamstow's William Morris wallpaper.

Born to a librarian and a museum curator, stories were always going to be important to Ruth Goldsmith. In 2019, she received a London Writers Award for Literary Fiction with Spread the Word to develop her novel. Her short fiction has popped up in various places – as a lead on Visual Verse, in the first City of Stories collection and most recently placed first in the streetcake magazine Experimental Writing Prize 2021. As a commissioned writer on the Science Museum’s #ScienceFictions project, she’s having fun mixing history, science, art and words, with an anthology forthcoming in 2022. Ruth’s a card-carrying member of Waltham Forest Library Service. 

A woman with long brown hair and wearing a pink top, looking away from the camera.

S. Niroshini received a London Writer’s Award in the literary fiction category in 2019 and won Third Prize in the Poetry London Prize 2020. Her pamphlet ‘Darling Girl’ was released in 2021.

Tice smiles, against a white wall, with shadows of bougainvillaea behind her. She is brunette, olive skinned.Tice Cin is an interdisciplinary artist from north London. A London Writers Award-winner, her work has been published by Extra Teeth and Skin Deep and commissioned by places like Battersea Arts Centre and St Paul’s Cathedral. An alumnus of Barbican Young Poets, she now creates digital art as part of Design Yourself – a collective based at the Barbican Centre – exploring what it means to be human when technology is changing everything. A producer and DJ, she is releasing an EP, Keeping the House, to accompany her debut novel of the same name.

Published 4 May 2022

class="post-52915 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-opportunities"CRIPtic x Spread the Word Salons for d/Deaf and disabled writers – new season open for bookingCRIPTIC and Spread the Word black and white logos

CRIPtic x Spread the Word are pleased to announce the new season of CRIPtic x Spread the Word Writers’ Salons – bi-monthly online workshops and readings for d/Deaf and disabled writers. 

 

The Salon aims to support, develop, promote, and feature underrepresented d/Deaf and disabled writers and be an inclusive space where these writers can be part of a community, learn, have fun and share their work. 

The new season starts in June 2022 and runs through to December 2022. Each Salon will have a workshop with an invited facilitator followed by a reading and Q&A from a guest writer and an opportunity for participants to take part in an open mic (five x five mins slots will be available at each Salon).   

The Salon is open to d/Deaf and disabled writers writing in any genre, new or more experienced and is hosted by Jamie Hale. 

The Salon is free to attend and will take place on Zoom. The BSL interpreters are Michelle Wood and Jemima Hoadley.  

CRIPtic x Spread the Word Salon dates and writers 

If you prefer you can email hello@spreadtheword.org.uk to book onto any of these events

On the left is a Brown South Asian man in a flowery shirt standing against a tree with his arms folded, next to a A landscape photograph of a heavy-set woman stood in front of a primarily black backdrop in three-quarters profile. Behind her on the right is a projector screen and part of a circular logo is visible with the letters forming “the” and “po” cut off by the crop of the photo. She wears a very pale grey shirt, a black cropped bolero with full sleeves. Her hair which is multitonal reds and hot pink is swept to the left side, exposing her ear nearest to the camera. She looks serious but with a half smile, mouth open caught mid speech into the stage microphone in front of her. In her right hand she holds an a5 white notebook open with her thumb. There is a white watermark in the bottom right of the image of the same logo from the projection, but fully visible. It is a circle with a drawing of a stick figure holding up a barbell surrounded by the words “Raise the Bar”. In a circle around this it says “Spoken word” and “poetry”. Monday 13 June 2022 

5.30pm – 6.30pm: Introduction to Playwriting workshop with Shahid Iqbal Khan 

7pm – 8pm: reading by Kathryn O’Driscoll + open mic slots 

More info and book here: https://cripticsalonjune2022.eventbrite.co.uk

 

a black and white photo of a woman wearing glasses and smiling at the camera alongside an image of a woman wearing a black turban, wearing glasses and smiling at the camera Monday 8 August 2022

5.30pm – 6.30pm: workshop with Hannah Hodgson

7pm – 8pm: reading by Sahera Khan + open mic slots 

More info and book here: https://cripticsalonaugust2022.eventbrite.co.uk

 

a person wearing a black jumper and smiling at the cameraMonday 10 October 2022 

5.30pm – 6.30pm: workshop with Emily Howlett 

7pm – 8pm: reading with Sonny Nwachukwu + open mic slots 

More info and book here: https://cripticsalonoctober2022.eventbrite.co.uk

 

Black and white photo of an Indonesian woman with short hair, earrings, and a patterned dress, lying down on her front, pen in hand, ready to write. Picture credit: Derrick Kakembo.Monday 12 December 2022 

5.30pm – 6.30pm: workshop ‘Writing the Body’ with Khairani Barokka

7pm – 8pm: reading by Khairani Barokka + open mic slots

More info and book here: https://cripticsalondecember2022.eventbrite.co.uk

 

Accessibility Information: 

FAQs 

What do you mean by d/Deaf and disabled? 

When we say d/Deaf and/or disabled, we include within that neurodivergence, chronic and long-term health conditions and mental health conditions. 

Do I need to sign up for the workshop and the reading to take part in the Salon? 

No. You can sign up just for the workshop or the reading or for both.  

How do I sign up to take part in the Open Mic? 

 

Published 11 April 2022

class="post-52670 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-interview category-network-knowledge"An Interview with Justin David

Laura Kenwright quizzes author, Justin David on his writing process and his role as publisher at Inkandescent. His new book, Kissing the Lizard, is out now.

  1. Tell us about Kissing the Lizard and how you came to write it.

I think the territory of fiction that I have inhabited up to now has been what we’ve come to understand as autofiction. Most of what I write about has some seed in it from a real moment or a real person that has had some significant or formative influence over me. That could be the time when I was very little and my auntie left me outside the newspaper shop and thinking she had abandoned me forever, I screamed until someone came to find me, or that time I was bullied at school, or the time my mother found out I was gay from a letter I’d written to a friend in America which got ‘returned to sender’ only for my mother to open it and read chapter and verse of my sex life.

We’re all constantly telling stories to ourselves and to other people. Get those moments down as quickly as possible and with as much real detail as you can muster and it’s documentary. Put some time between yourself and the event and you’re dealing with romance or nostalgia. Look at those moments again with a degree of paranoia and you have a yourself a horror story. Embellish the truth and you’re into the realms of mythology. That’s what I do. I’m a mythologist.

In the case of this book the seed was what was supposed to be a fun holiday—an adventure in the States. My first long-haul flight. I was in my early twenties and I’d travelled all the way to the sagebrush desert outside Taos, New Mexico to spend time with someone I thought to be a friend. However, in fact he turned out to be someone I didn’t really know, couldn’t trust and who didn’t have my best interests in mind. Instead of it being fun, I was lonely, vulnerable and isolated. I turned up the colour on all that and there you have it—an intense psychological desert-gothic.

2. Tell us about your writing journey.

If we’re talking ‘journeys’, this one has not been without a few perils and pitfalls. There have been times when I ran out of money, ran out of fuel, ran off the rails… My response is different depending on where and how I am at the time. I mentioned autofiction; I used to think my writing was about exploring, portraying or excavating some sort of truth. However, memoir can be as much about telling the truth as it is about telling lies. Sometimes, I’ve written characters, based on real people, the way I’d prefer them to be. Or, written events the way I think they could have turned out with the variables tweaked. I suppose my writing journey has, up until now, been very much about finding out who I am and how I fit into the world; I suppose having grown up in a world in which I didn’t see myself or stories like my own in literature, my passion has been to do that as authentically as possible. The events which I don’t understand are the ones that fascinate me and which I keep returning to.

When I was a child I enjoyed writing stories. I loved doing it at school and I would make books out of note paper at home. Writing and publishing was obviously in me from a very early age.  But it was when I met Philip Ridley in 1996 that I really began to take writing seriously. I interviewed him at the National Film Theatre (what is now the BFI Southbank) as part of the research for my university dissertation. Later we became friends and during a short time as his assistant I learned his methods of rewriting and editing. After that, I gradually became part of a community of writers and eventually decided to study creative writing at Goldsmiths.

3. What are your top three writing tips?

4. Who are your writing inspirations?

This is almost an impossible question to answer. There are so many and it depends on what I’m thinking about and what I’m working on. In 1996, because I was a student of film, they were Jane Campion, Philip Ridley, Peter Greenaway and David Lynch. When I was writing Kissing the Lizard, I would almost have certainly have told you JT Leroy, Chuck Palahniuk, Carson McCullers, Annie Proulx, Poppy Z Brite—all American, all outsiders, mostly transgressive. Two years ago, they were Kit de Waal, who taught me how to structure my work, Elif Shafak who brings magic to her writing and Garth Greenwell who can write a beautiful sentence. One came only aim for this greatness. Right now, I’m all about filmic visionary Lucile Hadžihalilović, Patrick White and Neil Bartlett. Having recently published Neil’s mosaic novel, ADDRESS BOOK, I’ve not only had the privilege of his influence as a writer—such control over voice, such immersive narration—but I have also been nourished by him as a wise queer elder. Neil seems to have the right thing to say at any given time. Only the other day, I sent him a text to let him know that I’d had Covid and had been holed up in my flat since my birthday. I haven’t been able to concentrate on writing or anything else. Two minutes later he called me. He said, “Gurrrrl, I’ve been right in the middle of shooting Shakespeare and I’m just walking back to the flat but I took one look at that text and I thought ‘That’s a distress flare if ever I saw one. I’d better give her a quick call’” and then he issued me with some advice in the way that only Neil can and suddenly everything in the world was momentarily right again.

5. How does your role as a publisher influence your role as a writer, and vice versa?

I feel a great responsibility as a publisher, boldly to go where mainstream publishing is too fearful to tread. Nathan and I have spent a lot of time and a great deal of effort building a platform to champion brave and imaginative writing from underrepresented authors. We’re just at the beginning of that journey. There is no getting away from that fact that we’ve published a number of white men, ourselves included. Though with our short story collection, MAINSTREAM: An Anthology of Stories from the Edges, we were able to support writers who identify as LGBTQ+, black and brown writers, and writers who are working class or financially disadvantaged. Our future publishing decisions will be curated carefully to ensure a balance of books.

The problem with a mainstream publishing ethos that produces so many books—a seemingly endless library of homogeneity—is that readers no longer discover anything new. Consumers enter bookshops looking for the next version of what they think is their thing. It’s all very safe and cosy. Mainstream publishing is totally market driven and has become purely about sales and very little else. Frankly, to me this feels like having to choose what to eat from one of those huge diner menus offering a proliferation of burgers, sauces and fries. This only results in consumer fatigue. Publishing no longer feels the same duty of care towards society. At Inkandescent, we want things to be different. Out of necessity (there are only two of us) we publish less. There isn’t a huge menu. We publish just two or three books we love every year—and how will you know if you love it until you’ve tried it? Similarly, as writers we guard against those market forces. It would be easy to slip into the trap of producing something we believe will be popular. We must be bold, dive deep and offer something that we love, something not all of our readers may be expecting and which, I am sure, some will love.

JUSTIN DAVID is a child of Wolverhampton who has lived and worked in East London for most of his adult life. He graduated from the MA Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London and is a founder member of Leather Lane Writers. His writing has appeared in many print and online anthologies and his debut novella, The Pharmacist, was published by Salt as part of their Modern Dreams series. It was described in the Times Literary Supplement as ‘the perfect introduction to a singular voice in gay literature.’ Kissing the Lizard is a prequel to The Pharmacist.

He is also a well-known photographer. His images of artists, writers, performers and musicians have appeared on the pages of newspapers and magazines including: The Times, The Guardian, Attitude, Beige, Classical Music Magazine, Gay Times, Out There, Pink Paper, QX and Time Out.

Justin is one half of Inkandescent with Nathan Evans. Their first offering, Threads, featuring Nathan’s poetry and Justin’s photography, was long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize. It was supported using public funding by Arts Council England. In 2021, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, they published their first collection, MAINSTREAM: An Anthology of Stories from the Edges, championing underrepresented voices.

Justin’s new book, Kissing the Lizard, is published by www.inkandescent.co.uk, out now.  You can watch the trailer here.

class="post-52630 post type-post status-publish format-standard has-post-thumbnail hentry category-creative-writing category-network-knowledge"Writing Happiness Anthology – disabled and neurodivergent writers on joy and happinessa closeup of a sunflower in a field with the sun setting behind

We are very proud to launch the 2022 Writing Happiness Anthology, an anthology of new writing from D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent writers exploring happiness in all its forms. 

Read The Writing Happiness Anthology, available to download here as a PDF and here as an accessible Microsoft Word document

This anthology showcases new writing from thirteen D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent writers who took part in a Writing Happiness workshop series led by Rachel Lewis and Elspeth Wilson. 

Rachel and Elspeth say:  “We started the Writing Happiness project out of a recognition that writing about happiness is not something D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent writers are often encouraged to do. Emerging writers are often encouraged to dig deep into their trauma, suffering or loss for creative inspiration. However, as writers living with disability and chronic illness ourselves, we have found talking, reading and writing about happiness and joy to be a restorative addition to our practice as well as a real creative challenge. 

Through this project we wanted to create space for D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent writers to explore happiness, from tranquility to joy, in all its nuance and complexity. We also wanted to showcase work from underrepresented writers, and help make sure that their stories reach new audiences. 

It has been an enormous professional privilege to work with this group of thirteen D/deaf disabled and neurodivergent writers over six weeks to produce both a wonderful showcase event, and this writing happiness anthology. Their voices are all distinct, powerful and vital. We hope you enjoy their work and that you follow their subsequent careers closely – we certainly will be.”

This anthology was made possible by a generous grant from Arts Council England and support from Spread the Word as a project partner. Thanks are also due to guest facilitators Jamie Hale and Christy Ku, and the disabled writing community for the support and passion they have shown to this project and the idea behind it. 

This anthology features: 

Meet the course leaders

Elspeth Wilson is a writer and poet who is interested in exploring the limitations and possibilities of the body through writing, as well as writing about joy and happiness from a marginalised perspective which has led her to co-found the Writing Happiness project with Rachel Lewis. Her poems have been commended in Young Poets’ Network challenges and her prose has been shortlisted for Canongate’s Nan Shepherd prize and Penguin’s Write Now Editorial programme. Elspeth is currently working on her debut collection and also regularly facilitates accessible creative workshops. When she isn’t writing or reading, she can usually be found near the sea or spending time with her elderly dog. You can find her on Instagram @elspethwrites and on Twitter @elllijwilson.

Rachel Lewis is a poet and facilitator. She co-founded Writing Happiness with Elspeth Wilson. Her poetry interrogates and celebrates family, friendship, community and recovery. Her first pamphlet on eating disorder recovery, ‘Three degrees of separation’, was published in 2019 by Wordsmith HQ. She is currently writing a second collection exploring grief and belonging through her family’s links to the Belfast Jewish community, and running a newsletter exploring the work of poetry. She can be found at @rachel_lewis_poet on instagram and twitter

More writing happiness 

If you enjoyed the anthology, share it with a friend, and let us know what you thought over at @disabledjoy on twitter and instagram! You can find ways to support our work at https://ko-fi.com/writinghappinessproject. If you have a project, event or idea you’d like to talk to us about, get in touch at writinghappinessproject@gmail.com. If you have any access issues with this PDF or Word doc, please let us know by contacting us at writinghappinessproject@gmail.com and we will fix them if we can and take on board your feedback into future iterations of our project. We have made every effort to build access into the anthology but we are still learning and welcome your feedback.

Coming soon on the Spread the Word website is a fantastic Writing Happiness course to download.

 

Published 4 April 2022