Spread the Word is working in partnership with the Association of London’s Chief Librarians on a new London-wide celebration of writers, readers and libraries, City of Stories.
Taking place over two years (2017 and 2018), it aims to make libraries the place to discover stories and create stories by:
- Celebrating and promoting short stories to readers across London libraries;
- Engaging London’s diverse communities with telling their own stories;
- Supporting the development of London’s emerging short story writers.
City of Stories is a new project, funded by Arts Council England Grants for the Arts, that offers adults the opportunity to write stories in a series of free writing workshops in London libraries throughout June.Whether you write stories already, or are just starting, all adults are welcome to City of Stories workshops. The project provides creative writing opportunities for Adult Learners and adults learning English as a Second language (ESOL) and anyone who is interested in putting pen to paper.
Running alongside the writing workshops is a residency programme, the City of Stories competition and a series of reading events in November.
What is City of Stories?
City of Stories Writers-in-Residence will spend time researching and exploring a borough of London and library where they are in residence. They will create a new short story based on their residencies which will be filmed and published on the Spread the Word website at the beginning of June 2017.
Bidisha will be in residence in Brent, at Willesden Green Library. She says:
“I’m delighted and excited to be a part of this. My mission will be to explore a new part of the city I was born and brought up in, make new connections, discover exciting new voices and develop new ways of seeing and writing. It’s time for writers and readers in one of the most diverse and international cities on earth to put pen to paper and let loose a creativity without borders.”
Irenosen Okojie will be in residence in Lewisham, at Forest Hill Community Library. She says:
“City of Stories is an exciting, multipronged, timely project celebrating the short form and the stories of this unique city. Now more than ever, we need to nurture the vibrant, varied voices of our artists. I’m thrilled to produce new work through engaging with diverse communities and helping to foster spaces to develop new talent.”
Alex Wheatle will be in residence in Kingston, at Kingston Central Library. He says:
“I am delighted to be part of this great writing initiative and I can’t wait to work with the diverse talent that London offers.”
Photo of Alex Wheatle by Walter White.
Courttia Newland will be in residence in Tower Hamlets, at Idea Store Whitechapel. He says:
“Libraries are the lifeblood of literature. Without them many of our well loved authors might have struggled to become writers at all, or at least found things a great deal tougher. They’re our beacons in a misty world, particularly in cities where stories are plentiful but distractions equally numerous. I’m really pleased to be working with Spread the Word again, so we can continue to find the meaningful, necessary stories that beg to be told, and work with the many talented writers who are determined to tell them. This will be a very exciting residency for all involved.”
Photo of Courttia Newland by Sharmila Chauhan.
Throughout June, twenty library services across London are offering creative writing workshops for adults.
These are free to attend, and we ask that you book your place in advance. By coming along to the City of Stories workshops, you can enter the City of Stories competition (more information about the competition is below).
Whether you write stories already, or are just starting, all adults are welcome to City of Stories workshops. The project provides creative writing opportunities for Adult Learners and adults learning English as a Second language (ESOL) and anyone who is interested in putting pen to paper.
City of Stories workshops are now available to book are:
St Pancras Library in Camden: Thursday 15 June, 6 – 8pm / Thursday 29 June, 6 – 8pm with Anita Belli Book Now
Willesden Green Library in Brent: Tuesday 20 June 6 – 7.30pm / Saturday 24 June 2 – 4pm with Bidisha Book Now
Islington Central Library in Islington: Wednesday 14 June, 6-8pm / Wednesday 21 June, 6-8pm with Tom Mallender Book Now
Barking Learning Centre in Barking and Dagenham: Thursday 8 June 2017, 6-8pm / Thursday 22 June 2017, 6-8pm with Lewis Buxton Book Now
Stoke Newington Library in Hackney: Tuesday 6 June, 6-8pm / Tuesday 20 June, 6-8pm with Tom Mallender – to book please sign up in Stoke Newington Library
Canning Town Library in Newham: Thursday 8 June, 6-8pm / Thursday 22 June, 6-8pm with Tom Mallender Book Now
Redbridge Central Library in Redbridge: Tuesday 6 June 6.30 – 8.00pm / 13 June 6.30 – 8.00pm with Jasmine Ann Cooray Book Now
Walthamstow Library in Waltham Forest: Saturday 3 June 11am – 1pm / Saturday 17 June 11am – 1pm with Lewis Buxton Book Now
Bexleyheath Library in Bexley: Thursday 22 June 2.30 – 4:30pm / Thursday 29 June 2017 2.30 – 4:30pm with Laila Sumpton Book Now
Kingston Central Library in Kingston: Wednesday 14 June 12.30 – 2.30 with Alex Wheatle Book Now
Woolwich Library in Greenwich: Sunday 4 June 1 – 3pm / Sunday 25 June 1 – 3pm with Anita Belli Book Now
Croydon Central Library in Croydon: Saturday 3 June 2 – 4pm / Saturday 24 June 2 – 4pm with Miriam Nash Book Now
Forest Hill Community Library in Lewisham: Sunday 11 June, 2 – 4pm / Thursday 22 June, 10-12 noon with Irenosen Okojie Book Now
Merton Arts Space @ Wimbledon Library in Merton: Saturday 10 June, 10:30-12:30 / Saturday 17 June, 10:30-12:30 with Nick Field Book Now
Hammersmith Library in Hammersmith & Fulham: Tuesday 13 June 6 – 7.30 / Tuesday 20 June 6 – 7.30 with Nick Field Book Now
Kensington Central Library in Kensington & Chelsea: Monday 12 June 2017, 6.30 – 7.45pm / Tuesday 27 June 2017, 6.30 – 7.45pm with Jasmine Ann Cooray Book Now
3) City of Stories competition
The City of Stories competition is open to people who come along to the City of Stories workshops. There will be one winner per borough, and two highly recommended writers. The competition is judged by the City of Stories writers-in-residence; Bidisha, Alex Wheatle, Irenosen Okojie and Courttia Newland.
There will be twenty winners in the competition. Prize-winners will receive:
- Publication in the City of Stories booklet that will be published in November.
- A place at the StoryLab writing masterclass day at IdeaStore Whitechapel in October.
- An invitation to read at a City of Stories reading event in November in the library where they attended their workshop.
The competition will open on 1 June and close on 14 July 2017.
Visit the competition page for more information.
4) City of Stories reading events
Taking place throughout November, City of Stories reading events will launch the City of Stories booklet, and celebrate local writing in twenty libraries across London. Stay tuned for more info about these, in late summer 2017.
For more information about City of Stories, visit the City of Stories website