'Writing the Pandemic' mentorship workshop inspires young writers

On Saturday 17 October, Professor of Poetry and Director of the Centre for New Writing John McAuliffe led an online mentorship workshop for the winners of the Writing the Pandemic initiative, presented by the Centre for New Writing and Creative Manchester.

The project invited young people (aged 11-18) from Greater Manchester high schools and colleges to send in written responses to life in lockdown. From poems, to reports, to letters, to short stories, the entries enabled a form of self-expression at a time when the world felt like a challenging and difficult place.

Over 200 entries were judged by a panel of professional writers and the 15 well-deserving winners received prizes including book vouchers and a place in the leading international arts journal, The Manchester Review.

“These brilliant young writers will be the ones who explain the world to us,” said John McAuliffe. “It has been a real pleasure to work with them, and I hope we see more of their writing in future."

The mentorship workshop was the final prize and another opportunity for budding, creative writers to come together and develop their skills in writing and propel their interests further. Led by McAuliffe, the workshop began with discussions of favourite books and specific participants’ writing interests. The group’s main activity explored poetry, they looked at what worked in poems, and what did not work quite so well. They explored clichés, language, and the technique of ‘showing’ rather than ‘telling’ in their writing. The workshop culminated in participants writing their own poems, using their newly-acquired skills.

One participant in Year 9 at Urmston Grammar School said: “Thank you for the opportunity, I enjoyed [it] thoroughly and found it really useful.”

The session highlighted the outstanding talent and creativity of secondary school- and college-aged youngsters, while also inspiring their writing ambitions and giving them the confidence to express themselves.

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