Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The First Time Is Always The Hardest

The last few months have been fairly quiet in terms of new material. Kate and I have been putting together the anthology, with the help of First Story; and our students have been finalising their AS Creative Writing portfolios and revising for their exams. Next term, Kate and I get to embark on some new projects, but for now, we are bumbling on.

But yesterday, something amazing happened. Oxford Brookes' Outburst Festival invited Kate to bring a selection of the best young writers in Oxford to share their writing. We gathered at the Pegasus Theatre, a brilliant venue for such an event, and the audience were lucky enough to hear the work of some of our best students at OSA, as well as Oxford Young Writer of the Year, Coral Dalitz.

Most of the students in our creative writing club are well practised in the skill of reading their work aloud. Every week, we read our first drafts out to the rest of the class - part of the reason I write along with the kids is because they feel comfortable to share with me when I share with them. Then, the poor young writers are asked again and again to perform in assemblies, to younger year groups, or at open events. For First Story and the Oxford Spires Library, creative writing is intricately linked into building confidence, and a huge part of that is the confidence to read / talk aloud.

But sometimes, there is someone who hasn't read aloud before. Yesterday, that someone was Asima, a new addition to our class this year who has blossomed and brought happiness to us all. I invited her along to First Story because of her insatiable desire to read - she has ploughed through most of my library stock and is always recommending new purchases. And I was so glad to have invited her when we discovered she is a talented, joyous girl who always comes to class with a smile and enthusiasm.

Yesterday, she made me proud again, by standing up with her peers and reading her poem, Cinderella, which is about her realisation that fairy tales may not come true in the sense we are led to believe as children; instead, we have to take control of our own destinies, and sometimes boys need a helping hand to falling madly in love. (She is also a complete romantic!)

I came away from the festival feeling incredibly proud and inspired, all over again! We are in the last stages of anthologising, and I am once again overwhelmingly excited about the launch. Two months and counting...

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