In 2018 First Story’s annual Young Writers’ Festival was held for the first time in partnership with the University of Cambridge. We welcomed over 330 students to the new venue, from schools across England.
As usual, workshop sessions were led by a selection of First Story’s acclaimed poets, novelists and playwrights, including Ben Faccini, Khadijah Ibrahiim, Roland Chambers, Dean Atta, Francesca Beard, Malika Booker, Rebecca Tantony and Ross Raisin.
The packed event was supported by more than 40 teachers, 26 writers and 25 volunteers.
YWF18 in numbers
- over 330 students attended
- representing 19 schools across the East Midlands, London, and the North
- 42 creative writing workshops took place
- led by 23 acclaimed writers including poets, playwrights and novelists
- over 740 pieces were written by students, teachers, volunteers and writers
- more than 320 books bought and taken home by students
YWF18 Guest Speakers
We opened the day with guest speakers Imaru Lewis and Chloe Holland, both former First Story students, who talked honestly about the impact of taking part in our programme.
Chloe’s talk touched everyone in the hall. Funny, clever and self-aware; she had the audience at once in stitches and moved to tears. Everyone was talking about her appearance for the rest of the day!
Imaru’s speech, which you can listen to here, was equally compelling — especially his message about your stories ’belonging to other people’. He urged our new cohort of students to find the confidence not only to share their work, but to ‘give over your writing to an audience’.
Writing for me, opens up many things… All your stories can be written on paper, but it’s your choice to create your own story. What you get out of [First Story] is not going to determine your future, but it’s going to have a massive impact on that.Chloe Holland, First Story graduate
This year’s keynote panel discussion featured award-winning poets Kei Miller and Shivanee Ramlochan, whose first collection was nominated for the 2018 Forward Prize, alongside best-selling author Stephen Kelman, whose novel Pigeon English is a key text on the GCSE syllabus.
All the writers highlighted how important it is to see the world you come from reflected in the books you read. Their message to students was powerful: that every story is unique and deserves to be told.
‘I’m still buzzing from the day, it was such a brilliant gathering of positive spirits and extremely talented young people. I feel very lucky to have been part of it.’Stephen Kelman, author
We closed the festival, as usual, with students taking to the stage in the plenary hall, to read the new writing they’d just produced in their workshops. As ever, First Story students produced work that moved, entertained and impressed us. If you weren’t there, you really did miss out.
The next festival takes place at Cambridge University on 10th December 2019. Attendance is open to all First Story participating schools. Register now for YWF19.
Would you like to volunteer at the 2019 Festival? Register here.