This year’s festival laureate was the award-winning poet Andrew McMillan. Andrew led one of three creative writing and reading workshops, whilst Durham University academics worked with the students across the others. The main focus of these workshops was the Durham Book Festival Big Read book, David Almond’s Half a Creature from the Sea. Inspired by the author’s Tyneside childhood, each of the stories in this collection is set in familiar locations around the region, aiming to draw out the extra ordinary in what may appear simply ordinary.
Key ideas from the collection, such as place, home and identity, were explored by the students and channelled into their own writing. In each session the group produced a range of poetry and descriptive prose. They were challenged with various writing exercises and received feedback on their writing from Andrew and the other group leaders. In every session the students were also given the opportunity to share their work with their peers and interact with students across all of the different schools.