About Us

About Us

Spread the Word is London’s writer development agency, which means we are here to help London’s writers make their mark – on the page, the screen and in the world.

We do this by kick starting the careers of London’s best new writers, and energetically campaigning to ensure that publishing truly reflects the diversity of the city. We support the creative and professional development of writing talent, by engaging those already interested in literature and those who will be, and by advocating on behalf of both.

OUR VALUES

Spread the Word is committed, collaborative and adventurous.

Operating in one of the most diverse and creative cities in the world, our work is focused on:

• Writers having the time, space and money to produce quality work and live as a writer;
• Readers and audiences experiencing a greater range of writing produced by London’s writers;
• More diverse writers being published by publishing houses and other media.

We have a national and internationally recognised expertise and track record in the development and management of schemes for diverse writers: from the creation and management of The Complete Works (2008-10) a mentoring scheme for advanced Black and Asian poets, which provoked a cultural shift in the dynamics and diversity of the British poetry scene; to Encompass a professional development for writers from marginalised backgrounds; Flight (2008 and 2012) mentoring and professional development schemes for writers under 25 and our current Flight 1000 Associate scheme, funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, providing training and support for writers from diverse backgrounds to enter the publishing industry.

We have led the literature and publishing sectors in commissioning research into diversity that is both ground breaking and change making. Our Free Verse Report (2005) looked at why so few Black and Asian poets had been published in the UK in the previous ten years and led to the creation of The Complete Works. Our Writing the Future Report (2015) looked at Black and Asian authors and publishers in the UK market place and has provided the evidence base for a range of initiatives (for e.g.: Penguin Random House’s WriteNow programme) taking place across the publishing industry.

“It’s so heartwarming and encouraging to see the large number of people who have benefited from Spread the Word’s activities and who have since gone on to enjoy successful careers as writers. This stellar organisation is as important now as it was when Ruth Borthwick and I co-founded it in 1995, with the aim to make British literature more inclusive of all voices.”

– Bernadine Evaristo MBE FRSL FRSA, Author, Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University and Spread the Word co-founder.

The Team

Ruth Harrison

Director

Ruth Harrison joined Spread the Word in 2015. Her working life has been in the field of the arts and particularly in literature. She has been Director of Apples and Snakes, a literature development officer and programme manager at The Reading Agency. She is passionate about not only widening people’s engagement with writers and writing but also in developing writing talent. Widening participation and engagement alongside developing and building awareness of new voices has been core to her work.

Ruth has previously been a trustee of Little Green Pig – a charity working to inspire children and young people to get creative with writing, sits on the steering committee for The Literary Platform’s Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize and is part of the team developing EmpathyLab – a start-up using words and stories to build young people’s empathy skills.

At Spread the Word, Ruth is responsible for leading the company artistically and strategically and working with our highly skilled and dedicated team to make a difference to and for writers and their audiences in London.

Contact Ruth at ruth@spreadtheword.org.uk

Patrice Lawrence

Programme Manager

Patrice Lawrence is a Sussex-born migrant to London who has worked in the voluntary sector for more than twenty years, from advice services to young people’s sexual health to children’s and family work and the criminal justice system. Her proudest moment is coordinating creative writing workshops and a writing competition across prisons in England and Wales. Patrice is also a writer and Orangeboy, her debut novel for young adults has been shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards 2016.

Contact Patrice at patrice@spreadtheword.org.uk

Laura Kenwright

COMMUNICATIONS AND PROJECTS MANAGER

At Spread the Word, Laura manages the organisation’s communications and oversees a variety of projects, including the London Short Story Prize, Life Writing Prize and Flight 1000.

Laura has worked with a diverse range of audiences within the arts. After studying English Literature at Cardiff University, she gained an MA in Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She has produced live art, comedy and theatre shows in London and at the Edinburgh Festival. She has also worked for Arts Award and Artsmark, The National Literacy Trust, as a local authority arts officer, a social care worker working with young asylum seekers and as a youth worker. She is passionate about enabling access to high quality writing opportunities and nurturing writing and creative talent. Laura joined Spread the Word in 2013.

She has judged writing prizes including the UCL Publishers’ Prize and Warwick University young people’s Shakespeare writing competition, written forewords and edited poetry and short story anthologies. In her spare time she pursues her own fiction, script and poetry writing and loves comedy.

Contact Laura at laura@spreadtheword.org.uk

Eva Lewin

WRITER DEVELOPMENT MANAGER

Eva Lewin is Writer Development Manager at Spread the Word where she leads on the one-to-one support for writers, through feedback surgeries and professional development coaching. In 2015-16 she managed Jasmine Cooray’s BBC Performing Arts Fellowship and continues to work with Jasmine as an Associate Writer at Spread the Word.   Eva commissioned the Writing the Future research (published in 2015) into Black and Asian writers and publishers in the UK marketplace. She continues to work on the strategy to take forward the diversity agenda, including Spread the Word’s consultancy on WriteNow with Penguin Random House. Her twenty years’ experience in the literature sector includes curating creative writing programmes, co-directing the Hackney literature festival, running writers’ residencies and a shop-floor library at Ford’s car factory in Dagenham. Eva is an RD1st accredited coach (ILM Level 7 equivalent). Contact Eva at eva@spreadtheword.org.uk

Aliya Gulamani

COMMUNICATIONS AND PROJECTS ASSISTANT

Aliya has previously worked in audience engagement and marketing roles in both the theatre and literature sector. Currently Project and Communications Assistant at Spread the Word, Aliya is responsible for providing administrative support for their communications and projects, including the very exciting London Writers Network. Contact Aliya at aliya@spreadtheword.org.uk

JJ BOLA

FLIGHT 1000 ASSOCIATE 2017

JJ Bola, is a writer and poet, debut novelist, No Place to Call Home (OWN IT, 2017), MA Creative Writing student (Kit de Waal Scholar), Birkbeck, University of London (2017).

A Kinshasa born, London raised writer, poet, educator and workshop facilitator.  JJ Bola independently published three books of poetry Elevate (2012) and Daughter of the Sun (2014). His third, WORD (2015) is his most comprehensive poetry collection. JJ Bola’s work is centred on a narrative of empowerment, humanisation, healing of trauma as well as discovery of self through art, literature and poetry. Creating the increasingingly popular addage, ‘hype your writers like you do you rappers’, he believes that the true purpose of poetry (art) is to expose the reality of this world and how to, most importantly, survive it.

JJ Bola reads regularly at shows and festivals across London/UK such as  Tongue Fu, Vocals & Verses, Chill Pill, The Round House, Ventnor Fringe, Glastonbury etc as well as Universities; SOAS, UCL, Oxford, Lincoln, University of Birmingham, and a mini tour of the US West Coast in 2015/16, LA, Da Poetry Lounge, UCLA, Standford University and Merrit College in the Bay Area, San Francisco and Oakland, where he won the Oakland Poetry Slam. 

REMI-LYN BROWNE

FLIGHT 1000 ASSOCIATE 2017

Remi-Lyn is a London based poet, novelist and philosopher. Spending most of her of her physical time in London. Intellectually she spends a lot of time with the writers and philosophers of the past past which gives her writing an air of reflection; an honesty that can only come from hindsight.

Her first novel, Child is a Dirty Word is due for completion at the end of 2017.

Remi-Lyn is part of the London based creative collective SXWKS and her first poetic work these are the most terrifying thoughts is published under SXWKS publishing. In 2015 she confounded AZ-MAG, an online publication centring around the experiences of British LGBT BMEs. 

HENRY BREFO

FLIGHT 1000 ASSOCIATE 2017

Henry Brefo is a freelance editor, with a deep passion to bring more rich and diverse voices to the literary scene. He is currently undertaking a PhD research at University of Birmingham on Chieftaincy in Ghana. He is an avid reader and always on a look out for new voices. A lover of cultures, jazz and whisky, Henry is as groovy as they come.

Our Board

Greg Klerkx

TRUSTEE

Greg is active as a writer, producer and facilitator. His non-fiction book, Lost in Space, was named as one of the best books of 2004 by the Independent and the San Francisco Chronicle and he continues to write for magazines and blog sites. Greg co-founded award winning cultural producing company Nimble Fish and is also an advisor, facilitator and trainer in the area of arts-led learning, in the UK, US and elsewhere. Born and raised in the US, Greg has been a Londoner for a decade and counting.

Rishi Dastidar

CHAIR

Rishi Dastidar is a copywriter, brand strategist and poet. Currently head of verbal identity at strategic branding agency BrandPie, he has worked for a wide variety of brands during his career, including O2, EY and EDF Energy. His poetry has been published by the Financial Times, BBC Local Radio, Tate Modern, the Southbank Centre, And Other Poems and Poems in Which, amongst many others. A fellow of The Complete Works II, the Arts Council England-funded development programme for Black and Asian poets in the UK, his debut collection Ticker-tape will be published by Nine Arches Press in March 2017.

Sandeep Mahal

TRUSTEE

Sandeep is the Director of Nottingham City of Literature. She is also Literary Consultant at Slam Films. She works with Slam’s creative team on all literary acquisitions and serves as the company’s primary liaison with the publishing industry, and in that capacity identifies book-to-film/TV opportunities. Sandeep was until recently Director of The Space – a commissioning agency supporting greater digital access to the arts co-founded by Arts Council England and the BBC – and launched their major partnership initiatives, international prizes and Open commissioning schemes, developing artists from a range of backgrounds to engage with digital media and technology. A librarian by training, she worked in public libraries for ten years and was formerly Head of Partnerships at The Reading Agency. Here she led a powerful partnership consortium transforming the way UK publishers and the public library network collaborated, taking a leading role in re-imagining the library experience for a digital age. She was a judge for the Fiction Uncovered Prize in 2013, named The Bookseller’s Rising Star in 2012, awarded a Fellowship from the Clore Cultural Leadership Programme in 2013.

Mike Clarke

TRUSTEE

Mike Clarke is director of libraries and archives for tri-borough – three central London boroughs that have innovatively got together to share services: the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and City of Westminster. Together they have 1 million books, 21 libraries and three archive services, serving over half a million residents and almost 5 million visitors to their libraries each year. Mike is a chartered librarian, executive committee member of the Association of London Chief Librarians and its past president. Previously he has worked in local government in Camden, Merton, Leicester and Manchester and also at the BBC and Arts Council England and was director of the London Libraries Development Agency. He is incredibly excited about the transformational power of literature and reading and the way public libraries and writers can interact to develop new audiences and engage with a wide range of communities and readers.

Katie Roden

TRUSTEE

Katie Roden is a publishing, marketing and content strategy consultant. She has a 24-year trade publishing background, including 11 years as Director of Consumer Education at Hachette UK and, as Publisher at Guardian Books, creating the Guardian Shorts ebook list and helping form the Guardian Faber imprint. In recent years she has worked on publishing ideas, marketing campaigns and communication strategies for some of the UK’s biggest publishers and author brands, from military fiction to secondary education. Katie is the co-founder of book design blog Fixabook and is a freelance consultant for the Seven League digital agency.

Martin Wheeler

TRUSTEE

Martin Wheeler has over 25 years’ experience working in finance, nearly 20 of which have been within the arts sector working for orchestras, subsidised theatres, commercial theatres and West End producers. He has professional qualifications in investment management and research and is a qualified member of the Association of Accounting Technicians. He joined the Board of Spread the Word in 2012.

Sally Spurring

TRUSTEE

Sally Spurring is a radio producer who worked at the BBC for almost twenty years producing a range of documentaries and arts programmes on Radio 3 and Radio 4 including Open Book, The Film Programme, Night Waves and Front Row. She also works as a dramaturg, playwright and consultant for the children’s mentoring charity Scene & Heard. Sally is currently studying for an MSc in Philanthropy, Grantmaking and Social Investment at CASS Business School in London.

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