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.
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.
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
Winner: 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.”
Highly 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.”
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
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.”
Highly 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.”
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
Winner: (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.”
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.”
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
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.”
Highly 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
Winner: 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.”
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
Winner: 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.”
Highly 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.”
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
Winner: 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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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
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.”
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.”
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
Winner: 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.”
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: Hasten 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!”
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.”
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
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.”
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.”
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
Winner: 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.”
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.”
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
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.”
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.”
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
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.”
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!”
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
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.”
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
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.”
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.”
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
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.”
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
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!”
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.”
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
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.”
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
Winner: 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!”
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.”
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
Winner: 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.”
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
Winner: 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.”
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.”
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
Winner: 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!”
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!”
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
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.”
Highly 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.”
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
Winner: 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!”
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.”
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
Winner: 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.”
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
Winner: 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.”
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
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.”
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.”
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
Winner: 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
Winner: 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.”
Highly 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.”
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
Winner: 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.”
Highly 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.”
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
Winner: 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.”
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