The Cuckoo Year 2015

It’s been a busy year in Cuckoo HQ, so we thought we’d take a little look back and remember some of the highlights. We’ve really enjoyed meeting loads of new young writers and can’t wait to get started on 2016.

January: New Year, new writing groups! Our groups in Sunderland, Newcastle and Cramlington started 2015 writing poems with John Challis, exploring a film and music with Amy Mackelden and entering The Museum of Lost Objects with Susannah Pickering. Much fun was had.

In February, 10 lucky young writers became Reviewers in Residence at Northern Stage. They got access to all the shows, took part in a brilliant masterclass with Maddy Costa and wrote some awesome reviews.

You can read one by Lucy right here: http://review.cuckoowriters.com/theatre-review-the-red-chair-northern-stage/

In March, we got all *jazz hands* at the Gateshead International Jazz Festival at Sage Gateshead and our reviewers’ brilliant reviews were featured in The Journal: http://www.thejournal.co.uk/culture/music-nightlife-news/review-gateshead-international-jazz-festival-9034217

The thirteenth (and final!) issue of Cuckoo Quarterly was published- it got a new name and a makeover later in the year!

April saw the launch of our Amble Cuckoo Young Writers group, following a really fun Easter School involving poetry, scriptwriting and prose. Our Amble group quickly became our BIGGEST GROUP (squeezed into the smallest room!).

And Young Writers’ City began- a new project which aims to turn Newcastle into the best place in the UK to be a young writer.

In May we got a bit ranty in Sunderland, with ex-Futurehead Barry Hyde leading some super-song writing sessions from Pop Recs Ltd.

We were also excited to be invited along to Wonderlands, the first graphic novel expo in the city and spent a happy day surrounded by comics and young people.

In June, we went to the Northern Writers’ Awards to present three awards to three special young writers. The Cuckoo Young Writers Award went to an amazing young poet from Sheffield, Zainab Abbass, the Matthew Hale Award was awarded to Jowita Krasik and the Connor Robinson Award to Wyatt Sugden. It was a FANTASTIC evening.

August was all about summer schools! We had no less than 8 (!!) going on all over the North East, from Amble to Sunderland, doing everything from dark fiction to spoken word to song-writing. We met loads of new amazing young writers. One of them described the summer school as “the best thing ever”, which is high praise indeed.

September saw the launch of our lovely new website, www.cuckoowriters.com, which is THE place to go for all Cuckoo news, interviews with top authors and celebs, and opportunities and advice for young writers.

We also finished our songwriters project in Bishop Auckland, with Martin Longstaff and Natasha Haws taking the group for a visit to the Field Music studios to record the tunes for posterity. Listen to tunes by Tom, Sophie and Catherine here: https://soundcloud.com/cuckooyoungwriters/sets/bishop-auckland-cuckoo-young

In October, a really brilliant bunch of young journalists became Reviewers in Residence at Durham Book Festival and spent a fabulous 10 days reviewing ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. They even got a sneaky mini-masterclass with Lauren Laverne! You can read their work on the DBF blog: http://durhambookfestival.com/blog/. And our young poets event at the festival, Dead [Women] Poets Society, completely sold out!

The month ended with our Juice Festival performance of Manifestos at Northern Stage, where a bunch of young people presented their manifestos for a better world. It was moving and provocative and clever and funny.

In November we went all Young Writers’ City, starting a project at West End Women and Girls Centre, doing Arts Award in Walker Technology College and creating a “spoken word symphony” of rap and poetry in Excelsior Academy. We paired up poet Paul Summers with a group of skateboarders. They’re going to write skate-culture sonnets.

And December has been a blur! We’ve send out 2,000 copies of the beautiful new edition of Cuckoo Press (which we think might be the best yet!), had our first, packed meeting of our brand new Cuckoo Young [Song] Writers group and attended a moving presentation of work by young writers at Newcastle Sixth Form College, who’ve been working with poet Stevie Ronnie.

Read about it here: http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/young-writers-newcastle-sixth-form-10611712 – ICID=sharebar_twitter

What a year! Hope you all have a lovely Christmas and see you in 2016!