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PLATFORM

There are few support opportunities available for new and emerging writers to invest time in producing work – to try something out, to experiment and to take a risk. Our PLATFORM development scheme responds to this need.

PLATFORM invites new and emerging writers to be innovative, to push themselves and their work. It provides them with the space, seed funding and peer support to develop their creative ideas through from original conception to showcasing their work in progress.

PLATFORM is for writers from all genres including, but not limited to, short story writing, page and spoken word poetry, fiction, non-fiction, life writing, playwrights and script writers.

The writers are matched with a mentor for three mentoring sessions over three months and receive a micro-bursary of £500 to help develop their idea. They also receive a free place at a Writer Development Lab and the opportunity to present their developed piece of work at the PLATFORM Showcase.

The 2017-2018 PLATFORM emerging writers were Ed Cottrell, Vanessa Stephen, Belinda Zhawi, Anna James, Ollie Charles, Han Smith and Jessica Oghenegweke. The 2017- 2018 PLATFORM mentors were Simon Mole, Ruby Cowling, Sabo Kpade, Nick Field, Jarred McGinnis, Laila Sumpton and Jasmine Ann Cooray.

PLATFORM has been made possible thanks to the generous support of Cockayne – Grants for the Arts and The London Community Foundation.

PLATFORM ALUMNI

PLATFORM Mentee

Ed Cottrell


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‘I wanted to see the machinery that produces grit, the stone specks that go into chicken feed. So I climbed the fence, broke in. Now I’m inside but I’m nowhere really: a kind of industrial barn, built from corrugated steel, a roof that arches like a ribcage. Every corner of this structure is filled with the movement of breath.’

Ed Cottrell’s writing has appeared in Neon MagazineBrittle Star and Mechanics’ Institute Review Online. His story ‘Happy Gate’ was shortlisted for the London Short Story Prize 2017. He is an alumni of Writers’ Centre Norwich’s ‘Inspires’ (Escalator) programme, and in 2015 spent two months writing at Toji Cultural Foundation, South Korea. Ed will be reading from a new sequence of illusive short stories, written to echo each other through imagery and sound. I’ll read two stories from the sequence, alongside an interlinking ‘concrete’ typographic animation.

PLATFORM Mentee

Jessica Ogheneweke


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‘I know, “poo girl” is one of the shittest, least imaginative insults ever but at the time it seemed like Shakespeare, and I felt it. You know it’s bad when you go to Toys R Us with your parents and they actually buy you a friend. Her name was Annie.’

Jessica Oghenegweke is 20 years old and lives in London. Originally coming from Norfolk, having a Nigerian father and a British mother has, for many reasons led to her writing heavily about identity. At 18 she shared her writing for the first time and have since had my writing performed at The National Theatre and Danny Boyle’s Shuffle Festival. The extract she is reading is part of a short story collection based upon the complexities surrounding women of colour and their journey to self-discovery and acceptance.

PLATFORM Mentee

Han Smith


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‘And each time the tide voids and floods back, we remember differently. This is a time of binding and new breakage, of polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyvinyl chloride. Polystyrene, polyurethane, polyethylene terephthalate, and pieces travel in the rarest ways to places they don’t belong.’

 Han Smith is presenting an extract from a series of three texts based on the three North Sea and Baltic Sea islands of Neuwerk, Rügen and Helgoland. The texts are shaped by how parts of the islands’ geography and history relate to the narrator’s experiences of gender categorisation, memory, disappointment, and idealised notions of normality and perfection. Han currently writes prose and poetry to find links between physical objects and systems such as water, architecture, shells and flight, and internal experiences of disappointment, isolation, (mis)communication and gratitude.

PLATFORM Mentee

Belinda Zhawi


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‘You learnt to sing from your mother
who sang for herself.

You’d been a shadow;
a dark corner; curls of smoke rising

out your face. In the songs you only knew
how to shudder in that thin space between dream & lucidity.’

Belinda Zhawi is a Zimbabwean born writer, educator. Belinda was a 2015/16 London Laureate & the 2016/17 Institute of Contemporary Arts Associate Poet.  She’s co-founder & host of the bi-monthly poetry social, BORN::FREE. She’s currently based in London, working on her debut pamphlet, SUGASAVAGE. Belinda will be presenting three pieces connected by the theme of ancestry, looking at how through language we sometimes have to reach for the past to make sense of the present.

PLATFORM Mentee

Ollie Charles


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‘I dance. There are men everywhere, like snakes, eagerly slithering around. We’re all wearing grotesque masks and the music shrieks from speakers in every corner of the room. I’m dancing on the spot as my feet have stuck to filthy floor and I worry that if I make any sudden moves, I’ll disturb all the other animals.’

In Ollie Charles‘s day-to-day life he works as a publicity manager in independent film but storytelling is his true passion. He is inspired by the work of Jack Thorne, Bret Easton Ellis, Tennessee Williams, Alan Bennett, David Hare, Patrick Marber, Alan Hollinghurst and Michael Cunningham. There are a variety of writing interests that he has including stories that explore gender, sexuality, identity and the cult of celebrity. Bluestar is a journey into the night, a tale about reconnecting with yourself and about figuring out what is real. It is an experiment inspired by the surrealist and queer movements.

PLATFORM Mentee

Anna James


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‘I, Nathaniel Spicer
presently of Marshalsea Prison
have told many tall tales:
alehouse news and coffee-house scandal
libellous gossip, controversies
and all manner of hearsay and shams.
But this is the full and true account
of how I came to be here.’

 Anna James is a London-based writer and educator. She recently completed a PhD in Creative Writing at UEA, where she researched and wrote historical fiction. She was long-listed for the Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award 2017, and is now developing this work into a verse novel with the support of the PLATFORM scheme. The Scribbler’s Tales mixes history, fiction and myth to tell the story of London during and after the Great Fire. The narrator, Nat Spicer, recounts his childhood amid the ashes of the old city and his rise and fall as one of the original Grub Street hacks.

PLATFORM Mentee

Vanessa Stephen


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‘……..’”Wah posses Jerry to bruk tru wid dat tight up jean, gold psychedelic frilly shirt and cow boy hat… cum like we have a power cut and jerry come to light up the place…..Can’t believe I run into you so soon Smarty…..Wah gwaan, Jerry?… Man looking kinda electric.”‘

Vanessa Stephen has loved writing creatively from childhood, but only within the last few years sought to pursue it professionally. Her first radio play/book ‘Little Miss Yum Yum and Little Mr Smarty Dum’ focuses on the dynamics of their relationship, who are a Caribbean married couple in their late 30s grappling with sensitive and complex issues pertinent to the times we are living in such as obesity and childlessness, presented through humour and robotics.

PLATFORM Mentor

Ruby Cowling


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Ruby’s awards include: The White Review Short Story Prize, the London Short Story Prize, the Prolitzer Prize and a finalist for the Gertrude Stein Award. Credits include: Lighthouse; The Letters Page; The Lonely Crowd; Unthology 4; the Galley Beggar Press Singles Club; I Am Because You Are; Flamingo Land and Other Stories; and Unreal City: Constructing the Capital. She is Associate Editor for Short Fiction in the UK and at The Writing Disorder in the US.

PLATFORM MEntor

Sabo Kpade


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Sabo’s short story Chibok was shortlisted for the London Short Story Prize 2015. His play first play Have Mercy on Liverpool Street was longlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award and his second The Good General was a finalist for the Beeta Playwriting Competition. He has been a critic for Media Diversified, Royal Africa Society’s whatsonafrica.com and now writes regularly for Okay Africa.

PLATFORM Mentor

Simon Mole


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Simon was the first Poet Laureate for the London borough of Brent, and is one fifth of the acclaimed poetry collective Chill Pill. His one man show Indiana Jones and the Extra Chair toured nationally. Shows at the Southbank Centre and the Brighton Dome sold out, earning rave reviews. His second show No More Worries toured nationally in 2015. He co-leads the Keats’ House Poets Forum for Keats House Museum.

PLATFORM Mentor

Jasmine Ann Cooray


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Jasmine was Writer in Residence at the National University of Singapore 2013 and BBC Performing Arts Fellow with Spread the Word 2014-15. A First Story resident writer, and worked as an assistant tutor with the Barbican Young Poets. She is now working on a poetry and aerial arts show with Upswing and Equlibria about trust in relationships.

PLATFORM Mentor

Laila Sumpton


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Laila’s work has been published in anthologies and poetry magazines, she co-edited In Protest – 150 Poems for Human Rights with the University of London. Recently working with the charity Sense to delivering a poetry and heritage project for adults with disabilities

PLATFORM Mentor

Jarred McGinnis


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Jarred was the creative director for ‘Moby-Dick Unabridged’ at the Southbank Centre. His short fiction has been commissioned for BBC Radio 4 and appeared in respected journals worldwide. More recently he has been shortlisted for the Galley Beggar Story Prize, the Wasafiri New Writing Award, and the Royal Academy Short Story Prize. He is a mentor for the Word Factory’s Apprentice Scheme and a writer-in-residence at First Story.

PLATFORM Mentor

Nick Field


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Nick is a writer, performer and musician. His work has been produced and staged at major events and venues, and his residences and commissions include Keats House, London Metropolitan Archives and Latitude Festival. He has written, performed and toured internationally three solo shows. As an arts educator and workshop facilitator he has worked with organisations including City Lit, The Poetry School, Ideas Tap, and Apples and Snakes. Nick is an Associate Writer with Spread the Word and lead artist for Pow!

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‘For me the biggest difference has been the confidence that PLATFORM has given me to perform my work live and to connect with audiences more directly. It has made me realise the dramatic potential of verse narrative and has given me the encouragement and knowledge of opportunities to explore this further.’

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