“Working with First Story has been a beautiful life experience”
In 2021 First Story were thrilled to partner with Goldsmiths University once again, offering a student completing an MA in Creative Writing & Education the opportunity to become a First Story ‘Shadow Writer’. This includes working alongside a Writer-in-Residence to support the delivery of one of our Young Writers Programme to students in a low-income community. Acting as a First Story Shadow Writer offers emerging young writers the opportunity to gain training and practical experience in delivering creative writing workshops, with the goal of supporting and launching their wider career in the literary world.
When we received an application from Fathima Zahra, we knew straight away that we had found the perfect match. A Roundhouse Poetry Collective alumna, Barbican Young Poet and winner of the 2019 Bridport Poetry Prize and the Wells’ Festival Young Poets Prize, Fathima had the creative writing talent and passion to perfectly fit the role of shadow writer, with experience coaching primary school students and facilitating workshops. After meeting with Fathima, we arranged with her course tutor, Francis Gilbert to place Fathima in St Gabriel’s College in Lambeth, alongside First Story Writer-in-Residence, Francesca Beard.
We at Goldsmiths in the Department of Educational Studies were delighted to partner with First Story in order to enable one of our students, Fathima Zahra to work with a First Story Writer, Francesca Beard. The goals of the MA in Creative Writing and Education are very similar to First Story’s in that there is a focus upon developing creative writing pedagogies which help disadvantaged students enjoy and flourish in their writing. We are delighted that this project has been so successful and hope to carry on the partnership with First Story in future years.Dr Francis Gilbert, Head of MA in Creative Writing and Education
Despite interruptions from COVID-19 which forced part of the programme delivery online, Fathima provided consistent and creative support over a number of workshops. Here’s what she had to say about her experience:
As a poet who’s interested in facilitating and teaching, getting a chance to shadow the writer-in-residence at Saint Gabriel’s was the perfect opportunity to learn. It allowed me to observe, engage with the students, have conversations with Francesca on workshop planning and techniques as well as plan my own. I had a chance to trial a writing workshop with the group, under Francesca’s guidance, and my experience over the six months has left me with the insights, confidence and skill to continue doing so.Fathima Zahra
Since completing her residency with First Story and Francesca, Fathima has gone on to great success! We are thrilled to say that she secured the role of Sales Trainee in Penguin Random House’s Children’s
As well as being a brilliant young writer in her own right, (Fathima) has proved to be a generous facilitator of other young writers ( . . . ) she has been a delight to work with.Francesca Beard
We are so proud to have played a role in Fathima’s career and privileged to partner with Goldsmiths to provide extended opportunities to their talented students. We look forward to a powerful partnership, and of course, to seeing where Fathima’s exciting career takes her next!