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

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. 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

MARIANNE TATEPO

FLIGHT 1000 ASSOCIATE 2016

Marianne started life sniffing books in Brussels’ flagship (only) Waterstones; she has yet to stop, but now also buys and/or reads them. In addition to her BA in Comparative Literature with Film Studies from King’s College London, she holds an MA in Publishing from University College London. A coordinator by trade, she doubles up as a blunt literary Swiss army knife: constant reader; regular writer; sporadic editor; budding talent scout.
Marianne has written for The Guardian, The Bookseller, The YA Book Prize, Konbini and, most eminently, Google Docs. In 2015 she co-edited the UCL Publishers’ Prize for Student Writing 2015 Anthology and did a brief stint in Holland Park, learning the do’s and don’ts of magazine and book publishing with Granta. She is currently plotting the Great Belgo-Cameroonian novel.

SARA JAFARI

FLIGHT 1000 ASSOCIATE 2016

Sara wrote her first full-length novel, Zara Freej & The Monopoly of Magic, a YA fantasy novel featuring a British Asian protagonist, when she was sixteen years old. Since then, she has written a novella and multiple short stories. She graduated with a BA in English & Comparative Literature from Goldsmiths, University of London in 2014.

Whilst being a keen reader of most genres/forms, Sara particularly favours YA fiction and comic books/graphic novels. Sara has completed work experience at major fiction publishers, and last year worked as a Marketing Executive at a law publisher.

Sara is currently editing her first novel, six years after writing it, and is writing short stories that are featured on her blog (www.sarajafari.wordpress.com).

SHREETA SHAH

FLIGHT 1000 ASSOCIATE 2016

Shreeta is a fiction writer and freelance editor with a passion for working with other writers. Previously, she had many adventures working in television, until she left to pursue an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. She reads widely and is an avid seeker of new voices. Shreeta is energised by tea and 90s’ soul and hip hop. She loves yoga and finds walking awakens her writerly mind.

Our Board

Greg Klerkx

Chair

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

TRUSTEE

Rishi Dastidar is a copywriter, brand strategist and poet. He has worked for a wide variety of brands in different sectors during his career, including O2, EDF Energy, Jewish Museum London, Barclays, Spotify and Hailo. His poetry has been published by the Financial Times, 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, some of his work featured in the 2014 Bloodaxe anthology Ten: The New Wave.

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

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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