Included here are reports and photos from the WORD2012 festival by the MyVoice young reporters. The Reading Agency worked with a team of talented Word2012 Young Reporters, who recorded, documented, interveiwed and wrote articles about the exciting events taking place. Here’s some of their work:
#29/5/12: Read Bella’s interview with Michael Rosen at the Nonsense Poetry event at Platform:
Hello, and today I’m with Michael Rosen at the nonsense poetry slam at Platform as part of the Islington Festival of Word 2012.
Interviewer: How important do you think it is to engage young people in creative writing and poetry and festivals like Word 2012?
Michael: Oh, I think it’s terribly important because when we write we find out who we are, and it’s sometimes quite hard to just sit thinking “Who am I?, Who am I?” but when you start writing it’s almost as if you put yourself on the page and it’s like looking at yourself in the mirror but instead of just a mirror it’s your thoughts, your feeling, put away, put down in an order. Great way to find out who you are, where you come from and where you are going. Very important.
Interviewer: Can you please explain what your new book “Even my ears are smiling” is about?
Michael: Yes, it’s a set of poems poems. Some of them are funny, some of them are not funny, some of them are sad, and some of them are very serious. Some of them are just mucking around, some of them are very new and recent like one where my children are jumping on me saying “Let’s jump on dad” and some of them are quite old from way back that went out of print like: “I’ve had this shirt that’s covered in dirt, for years and years and years. It used to be red but I wore it in bed, and it went grey ‘cause I wore it all day for years and years and years. The arms fell of in the Monday wash; you can see my vest through the holes in the chest, for years and years and years. As my shirt falls apart I keep the bits in the biscuit tin on the mantelpiece for years and years and years. And it was very sad, that was an old poem that had gone out of print that I was glad to be able to put back in the book as well.
Interviewer: Did you write any of your books for your children?
Michael: Not exactly for them, more with them, really sometimes what happens is I write something I read it to them and just the other day I wrote a story and I read it to my little boy who’s 7 and I could see that he was bored, it wasn’t a good story you see, and I could see just out of the corner of my eye that he was scratching, it was bedtime you see and I said how many marks out of ten. He was then looking at me closely and he said 8 because he was being kind to me. I know that really it was about a 5 and that made me go away and re write it and try to find a way of making it better. So I don’t actually write it for him, I just bounced it off him.
Interviewer: My favorite book of yours is “Don’t put mustard in the custard” but of all of the books that you have written what’s your favorite?
Michael: Probably “Quick let’s get out of here” because it’s got stories about my little boy Eddie when he was 2 and 3 and here’s the sad thing he died when he was 19, nearly 19. What’s quite nice is it’s almost like looking at a photo album of reminding myself what he was like, when I’m reading that so that’s a kind of favorite of mine.
Interviewer: And were you a precocious teenager?
Michael: In some respects yes, in some respects no. I was quite tall so people thought I was older than I was and I suddenly got a bug when I was 14 about wanting to go to the theatre, but I had nobody to go with, so bit strange but I used to go off to the west end theatre on my own, to watch these plays while all my mates were going to the local cinema or going to rock concerts and things like that and I was going to the theatre, so some people thought that was a bit odd and as you say precocious.
Are you precocious?
Interviewer: Yes, I guess I could describe myself as precocious
Michael: Oh well, there you go then. We are partners in precosi- pre-pre-precoc- anyway that thing
Interviewer: I heard you were arrested twice, would you mind explaining why?
Michael: The first time was when I was demonstrating against the American bombing of Vietnam, in the 60’s so we had a great big demonstration and I was seen to be on the front row of the demonstration outside the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square so the next thing I knew, I was in a coach being driven towards the cells in cavil row, which is also a police station, and they held us there but the bloke who picked me up forgot to write my name down so they held us there till 4am ,in the morning, and then said “Clear off” to those of us who were left and then my dad and my brother were waiting for me outside, they had waited all that time so that was nice.
The second time was because there was a hairdresser in the town where I lived at the time when I was at university in oxford, that wouldn’t cut black people’s hair and so a Jamaican friend of ours said “we are going to do the first sit in against the English color bar” he was quite a dramatic bloke and he said it in a strong Jamaican accent.
Interviewer: so I guess your not that naughty after all so how did Edward Lear influence you and why did you agree to take part in word 2012?
Michael: He is a very influential person and he was born in Islington and I find it very important to celebrate him in the place where he was born, if it wasn’t for Edward Lear, I might not be here today. And I agreed to take part in Word 2012 because it’s important for young people to write because it helps us learn about our past and our roots and where we are going in the future.
#30/5/12:Listen to Natalie and Rima’s interview with Rose Fenton, Director of Free Word Centre, one of the festival’s key partners, about the Politics and Olympics exhibition here
#29/5/12: Bella’s review of ‘B-Writing’
The B Writing workshop is a creative writing course providing a new initiative for young women, by young women, for 13-19 year olds in association with “All Change”. They are also providing B photography at Canonbury Project and B dance at the new youth hub in Angel, “Lift”. Luckily, I had arrived just on time to the Free Word Centre in Farringdon and I knew where i was going since it was the building where i had my young reporter training/induction day. I was having a little debate with the receptionist about when the course was supposed to be: Tuesday or Wednesday. I was starting to worry when someone arrived to escort me to the room.
The workshop taught me that it is a lot easier than you think to write short stories and getting inspiration can come naturally.Moreover, an example of this is one of the activites I took part in:
What you have to do is pick a topic or subject you are able to write constantly about for 10 minutes, easy? Well now you also have to also put random words into your piece. So, you have to ramble on for 10 minutes but also, interpret words into your story, a word will be shouted out and you will somehow have to put it into your work.
Here’s an extract of what i wrote:
“I woke up, everything was still blurry but finally I was awake, I was sure a potato is what had hit me on the head, but now i can’t be sure since i was no longer at granny’s house. I was actually in Creme Egg World. I could suddenly see everything really vividly, a long creme egg stream with a sainsbury’s bag floating though it…hang on a second, sainsburys bags? However, I had bigger problems “Uh oh” I mumbled since i realised it was approaching the ducklings and might suffocate them. I applied my red lipstick (this is something i do when i get an idea) and jumped on one of the moustache shaped clouds…
And also if you want to find out more about the B Projects then click here:B Project
#29/5/12: Visit Bella’s Tumblr site for Talking Buildings at LIFT and Platform
#18/05/12 Radicals, Rebels and Revolutionaries by Elisa
This event followed the history of Clerkenwell Green, starting from the Peasants’ Revolt to Lenin. I found this talk quite interesting, having learnt about Lenin in History this year, and I was quite surprised to hear that Lenin actually lived in Islington with his wife. Lenin’s office was on Clerkenwell Green – where he worked on his revolutionary newspaper ‘Iskra’ – and the publisher in which his office was located is now the Marx Memorial Library, which you can visit.
I enjoyed looking at the pictures and hearing about the various stories that were told, especially about Wat Tyler, the leader of the Peasants’ Revolt in 1384. Because the plague of 1348-49 had killed more than a third of the population in England, there was a shortage of workers and so their wages rose. But Parliament passed a law in 1351 that stopped their wages from rising, causing hatred among the peasants. This resentment was worsened by the increased poll tax in 1380. The peasants began to rebel, and it spread, led by Wat Tyler. At a huge rally on Smithfield and whilst in talks with the King he was killed by the Lord Mayor of London.
Overall, the event was thought-provoking and you should definitely visit the Islington Museum, if you have the time, to learn about the borough you live in – which is surprisingly remarkable!
#16/05/12, Teen Reads Vote 2012 by Elisa
Waterstones hosted a panel of teen writers on Wednesday 16th May. Teens from all over Islington have been voting across Islington for their favourite book, or a book that ‘changed their life’, since March (the Teen Reads Vote 2012). Four locally-based authors were invited to join a panel to discuss ‘teen fiction’; these authors were Candy Gourlay, Katie Dale, Sara Grant and Sophie McKenzie.
The authors arrived for the event. All were present except one: Candy Gourlay. She was actually stuck in traffic (on the “slowest bus on Holloway Road”) and the event had already started when she dashed in and plonked herself down onto the seat already waiting for her, dumping her bag beside her chair. This was quite an entrance, and it was greeted by a round of warm laughter. All the authors gave a summary of their novel and read an excerpt from one of their books: Katie from ‘Someone Else’s Life’ (about a girl who goes on a mission to find her real birth mother in America), Sophie from ‘Sister, Missing’ (the title says it all), Sara read from ‘Dark Parties’ (a Dystopian novel where everything is controlled) and Candy from ‘Tall Story’ (following a young giant basketball player visiting England for the first time).
This was then followed by a round of questions from the audience, such as ‘the most inspirational book you’ve read’ (Katie – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Sophie – Room by Emma Donoghue, Sara – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Candy – Midnighters by Scott Westerfeld), and ‘how long it takes to write a book’ (varying from 4 months to 7 years). The winner of the Teen Reads Vote 2012 was also announced: ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ by Jeff Kinney. Second place was taken by ‘The Hunger Games’ and there was a joint third place: ‘Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief’ by Rick Riordan and ‘Twilight’ by Stephanie Meyer. 180 young people voted overall.After the main event was finished, I had the great opportunity to interview the authors. One of my questions was: ‘What tips would you give to young writers?’ These were their answers:
Sara: Never give up.
Candy: Never go where the reader wants to go. Don’t write the parts readers want to skip and allow yourself to write rubbish – you can always edit it later.
Sophie: Know what your main character wants or needs – this makes a strong story. Also include lots of conflict. Make everything that happens unexpected but convincing.
Katie: Read and write as widely as you can and enter writing competitions.
The authors were very amusing and it was a wonderful experience getting to meet them all.
Hear an interview by Edis, Young Reporter with Tony Brown, Stock and Reader Development Manager, Islington Libraries here
#12/05/12, By Elisa
A reading flash mob has taken place today in Highbury Fields, launching the Word2012 festival in style. The festival focuses on celebrating reading, writing and the freedom of expression, holding activities and events all over Islington until 31st May. Tony Brown, the organiser behind Word2012, kindly came in to talk about it. He explained that the festival was the result of the ‘Islington Reads’ project which initially started to get as many people as possible of all ages “to get reading”. This gave them the realisation that there was little opportunity for young people, and so this festival contains “many activities for all ages”.
Mr Brown also told us that the Word2012 festival was “fundamentally for the enjoyment of reading”.
After his talk, he quickly rushed off to start and take part in the reading flash mob.
We wish him all the best for the success of the festival and we will be reporting at the events taking place. We hope to see you there!
#11/05/12 by Rima and Natalie
The launch of the Word 2012 festival in Central Library was well organized and very interesting. We met new people and saw the 100 Word play which was great as it was produced in the matter of 5 week. Also, the young mayor attended the opening and gave an inspirational speech which moved us as we’ve been shown that we have so much support. Personally we think young people should attend the world2012 festival, as it allows one to get involved within their area and participate in upcoming events that will help them reach their goals. Also the world2012 festival programme includes fun activities allowing people from different backgrounds to get involved and socialize. This festival opens new doors and aspirations for young people in our community so we; as the youth in this society; believe that young people should get involved and express themselves as it is a time to do so.
#12/05/12 by Rima and Natalie
Today it was an introduction day and we got to know everyone participating in both Word2012 Festival and Festival of Asian Literature. We interviewed the organisers of both programmes and then posted it online. We had an overview of what we’re going to do in the festival and had training on how to use specialist audio kit when interviewing a person. We also learnt interviewing techniques and had a discussion about what makes a great social reporter. This training day really helped both Natalie and I as it opened our minds on what really social reporting is about.
MyVoice is a creative reading and writing programme for young people run by The Reading Agency. Young people taking part in MyVoice are setting up their own reading and writing spaces in local communities, organising events and workshops for other young people, learning lots of new skills, getting accreditation for volunteering and meeting lots of writers, artists and people working in the creative industries.
To find out more visit: MyVoice