Over the 2016/17 academic year, students from Heaton Manor and Benfield Schools have been working with writers Laura Lindow, Lisa Matthews and Adam Lowe, and project coordinator Claire Henly on Proud Words, an LGBT+ reading and creative writing project.
To kick start the project, the groups attended the Durham Book Festival event ‘What is Normal?’ with two of the biggest names in YA, Juno Dawson and Lisa Williamson. At the event, the groups found out all about what inspires them to write (insider info: a magic squirrel feeds Juno Dawson her ideas – who knew?!), and heard the pair discussing the LGBT+ themes of their best sellers.
Back in their schools, and over the course of the year, the Proud Words groups then read four YA novels, lots of poems and scenes from scripts, all with themes about gender, identity and sexuality. Inspired by their reading, the students worked with the professional writers to respond through their own creative writing, including writing letters to ‘Normal’, finding out what makes a poem in their group piece ‘Poetry Is…’ and learning more about how to create their own characters.
Next on the agenda is pulling all of this work into an anthology and rehearsing for a performance later in the year. Watch this space for more info.