Biscuits & Words Young Writers’

Biscuits & Words was a writers’ group for young adults which we ran from 2014 to 2016.  It was funded by Writing East Midlands with support from Loughborough University and Charnwood Arts.

Sessions were led by our own writer – Alison Mott – supported by poet and cookery blogger Lottie Huckle.  Liz Waddell joined the team when Lottie moved to London and a job in publishing.

Biscuits & Words met fortnightly in LU Arts’ cool, arty meeting area in the Edward Barnsley Building on Epinal Way.  We later moved to a more central location in town, using community rooms belonging to Charnwood Arts in Granby Street.

In our sessions we used short, quirky prompts to kick off quick bursts of writing, inviting the young writers to suggest prompts as the group grew in confidence.  Everyone wrote in the sessions – young and older writers alike – and were encouraged to read out what they had written.  Most found it scary at first but soon got over it as their creative muscles became used to the exercise.

The Young Writers wrote whatever they wanted – poetry, plays, song lyrics, stories – and often brought in pieces they’d continued to work on at home.  It was fantastic to see each young writer grow in confidence – in their ideas and creativity, their writing and critical skills, their communication skills and their friendships, too.  We even became official bloggers for the first ever Loogabarooga Children’s Illustrated Literature Festival in October 2015.

And best of all there wasn’t a red pen or marking scheme in sight.  But there was laughter and creativity and biscuits – lots of biscuits.  Hence the name – Biscuits and Words – chosen to replace ‘Charnwood Young Writers’ by the young people who attended the group.

Biscuits & Words was a lot of fun for everyone involved and we’d love to start up another young writer’s group in the area soon.

Contact us if you’d like us to run a writing group in a community setting you know.

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As often happens, we found that creativity from writing practice spilled over into other artistic areas. This poster for Biscuits & Words was designed for us by Jay, one of our original young writers.

Mouthy Poets Workshops

In November 2016, we invited Nottingham’s wonderful Mouthy Poets to Loughborough to lead writing workshops for children and young people at Loughborough Library.  They were so full of knowledge and creative energy that they staged a workshop for creative practitioners, too.  The sessions were a great success and more than one person commented that they’d helped them find their writing voice.find-yourself-workshops.jpg

 

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Cut!

Last week, the Informals’ writing session kicked off with an exercise sparked by an opening sentence from Mark: ‘Why am I stressed? I’m not actually accomplishing anything!’

As usual, our quick burst of writing  produced entirely different styles of text from each of us.  Goodness knows how the subconscious mind manages to throw up such ideas, but mine ended up being about a superhero stressing about the things he had to do (‘save the planet, bring about world peace’) but who couldn’t leave his flat because he’d lost his tights.

We then went on to an activity created by the poets Kerry Featherstone and Mark Goodwin and featured in ‘Words & Things‘ – a ‘resource box’ of creative writing activities inspired by objects and art.  The activity encourages you to return to a piece of writing and cut it back to only what’s absolutely essential – one or two phrases, perhaps, and removing some of the small words or adjectives.

We decided to be generous and allow ourselves 8 to 10 sentences from our ‘stress’ texts, using poetic licence to tweak them a little to make them ‘flow’.  There was some reluctance about the activity, I must admit, and people were sceptical that it would work. They needn’t have worried.

Here’s what survived of my superhero piece:

The stress feeds into itself,
more anxious and less
if you get my meaning.
The list of things I need,
hurtling towards the earth
in roughly 8 hours,
breaching security.
Unable to leave the apartment,
where hell has put my clean red tights.

Wimbledon Mike wrote a piece based on school days:

An Eye for an Eye

How can it be that everyone is stressed?
The 1950’s ‘never had it so good’.
By the 1960’s, everyone was socialist then.
The Cuffley Gang came by train
Caused stress, the mouth punch ‘for the heck of it.’
‘Boys will be boys’; Hertford could not handle it.
This sadistic boy; essentially stupid – his come-uppance?
Old Testament – an eye for an eye – eyeless and toothless people.

And finally, Jen Min’s piece:

“Oh, I could do that,” I said.
“There’s a lot involved,” she said.
“What if it rains?” said Mrs Peters.
Joe Bates offered to ask his mate for his marquee.
Perhaps we could all pile into the school hall?
“Not on my polished floors!” said Eileen the cleaner.
What if it rains?  What if it rains?
We usually invite the Scout Band.  Oh no,
What if it rains?

eye for an eye

 
 
 

Three Minute Football

And no, I’m not referring to the length of time we had believing England would be World Cup winners for 2014!

Last Thursday at The Informals writing session at the Library, I discovered my trusty egg timer at the bottom of my Writer’s Toolbox (in fact I squealed with delight, which is not really sensible for a woman of my years!)  So, for our third writing activity, we took the word ‘football’ as a creative stimulus and wrote for three minutes flat. As usual, I was astounded by (a) how much you can actually write in three minutes and (b) how each of us produced something entirely different to the others.

The group have kindly allowed me to share their writing with the world.  I should point out that though we’re a small group, several of our writers share the same fore-names, hence the unusual addition to some of them!

The first piece is by Sci-fi David:

Football – the beautiful game.
England won the World Cup,
Can we do it again?

Football – the ball gets kicked.
Are we gonna get back what we did in ’66?

Like David’s poem, the following piece by Artist Jenny looks back in time:

When I was young there was only one football in our cul-de-sac.  Michael across the road had an ancient leather ball with no inner inflatable.  His dad had lost both the bladder and the valve.  In desperation, Michael stuffed the ball with sheets of Radio Times and Picture Post.  Both girls and boys played but boy, was it heavy!

This one is the work of Alison the Viking:

The tall man stood at the front of the room, commanding the attention of everyone in it.  He delivered his patter like a well-practiced performer; the jokes, the eye-contact with everyone, the repeated inclusion of the pale guy in the front row – all techniques of the best act in a comedy club and not at all what you’d expect of the vice chancellor of a university, telling the story of how his design department was responsible for the World Cup football.

The last comment is from Rachael the Younger:

I open up the TV guide.  A plethora
of football-related programmes taint
the pixels of the screen.
It seems that these TV producers
are a lot more creative
than I gave them credit for.
Viva, Dave, half the BBC
and ITV are rammed
with 50 of the best this
and 50 of the worst that
and everything in between.
Looks like it’ll be another
afternoon of netflix for me.

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