We are now in the sixth year of our partnership with the prestigious Rathbones Folio Prize, through which talented First Story students benefit from working one-to-one with an acclaimed writer from the Folio Academy. This year we are delighted that six aspiring young First Story writers will be participating in our year-long programme.
Rathbones Folio Prize Mentorships are an incredibly valued progression route for alumni of First Story’s intensive Young Writers Programme. The scheme allows a small number of our young writers to pursue their creative writing ambitions, develop their craft, and strengthen their voice with one-to-one support from an established writer.
We are always so excited to see the calibre of the mentors put forward by the Folio Academy. Here is this year’s impressive list of pairings:
London-based poet and editor Emily Berry is the author of three books of poems all published by Faber & Faber: Dear Boy (2013), Stranger, Baby (2017) and Unexhausted Time (2022). A co-writer of The Breakfast Bible–a compendium of breakfasts–she is also editor of The Poetry Review and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Emily will be mentoring Juno from Cranford Community College.
Sam Byers is the author of Idiopathy (2013), Perfidious Albion (2018) and Come Join Our Disease (2021). His work has been shortlisted for many Prizes including the Costa First Novel Prize, the RSL Ondaatje Prize, and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction among others. Sam will be mentoring Frankie from Chelsea Academy.
Diana Evans, a British author of Nigerian and English descent, has written three critically acclaimed novels: the award-winning debut 26a, The Wonder and Ordinary People, which was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and the Rathbones Folio Prize among others. Diana will be mentoring Lily from The Dukeries Academy.
Frances Leviston is a poet, critic and short story writer. Her first collection of poetry, Public Dream (2007), was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize among others; her second collection, Disinformation (2015), was shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize. She is also the author of the short story collection The Voice in My Ear (2020). Frances will be mentoring Sadiqah from George Green’s School.
Chris Power has judged the Goldsmiths prize and written a long-running column for The Guardian about the short story form. A Presenter on Radio 4’s Open Book, his debut story collection, Mothers (2018), was longlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize. He is also the author of a novel A Lonely Man (2021). Chris will be mentoring Qudsia, a drama student at the London Screen Academy (previously at Holland Park School).
Prize-winning poet and essayist Momtaza Mehri was a former Young People’s Laureate for London and columnist-in-residence at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Open Space. Her latest pamphlet, Doing the Most with the Least (2019), was published by Goldsmiths Press; her debut poetry collection will be published in 2023. Momtaza will be mentoring Diana from Leeds Sixth Form College (previously at Co-op Academy Grange).
Each pairing will work together over the course of the academic year to develop a project of the young writer’s choice. Corresponding regularly online and meeting in person, the mentors will provide personalised feedback and support. There will also be an opportunity for the mentees to perform their work publicly, with a celebratory event at the London Library in 2023.
Read more about last year’s Folio Prize Mentorships showcase.
The Folio Academy is a group of more than 300 outstanding writers. Each year the Academy selects six of its members to become mentees to First Story alumni. Previous mentors include Fiona Benson, Caleb Azumah Nelson, Rachel Long, Will Harris, Adam Foulds, AL Kennedy, Alice Jolly, Evie Wyld, Francesca Beard, Joe Dunthorne, Kamila Shamsie, Louise Doughty, Lucy Caldwell, Nikesh Shukla, Ross Raisin and Sharlene Teo. The project is made possible by sponsorship of Rathbone Investment Management and the generous funding from Arts Council England and Cockayne Foundation.
First Story works with Forward Prize-shortlisted poet Ralf Webb from Rathbones Folio Prize, and the mentorship scheme is supported this year by Amazon Literary Partnership.