I Even Dream in Haiku and The Great Margin culminate five years of iterative research and creative investigation led by Professor Bambo Soyinka into ‘writer development’ with an emphasis on writing as a creative activity that supports well-being and cultural connection. Two key resources created by Bambo which inform this research are The Writer’s Cycle and/or Dare to Write?
The Field Notes
These field notes are the first of two that interact with the four themes of The Writer’s Cycle and Dare to Write? (Discovery, Connection, Craft and Transformation). The aim is to introduce discussions around themes arising from the research. The dialogue includes quotes, snippets and reflections on conversations with collaborators. Throughout, the term ‘writer development’ describes the practices that writers, facilitators and organisations use to support the creative growth of writers and/or writing ecologies.
Bambo produced The Writer’s Cycle in 2015 as part of Arts Council England (ACE) Strategic Creative Writing in Schools (CWIS), established to address gaps in provision for children and young people’s writing. In the second phase (2018), Bambo shifted the focus towards improving support and inclusivity for adults. Throughout, Bambo has collaborated with writer-facilitators and organisations to co-develop ways of supporting those seeking to write for pleasure, especially those who do not normally engage with the arts.
Bambo’s philosophy is that facilitators and organisations with whom she collaborates are co-producers of knowledge about writer development. She works ‘alongside’ facilitators to broaden our understanding of the best ways to support writers and to create inclusive writing ecologies. In the first research phase, she ran action research projects with organisations in the south-west, and a national ‘call for evidence’ online and through national conferences and workshops. In the project’s initial stages, over 700 individuals and organisations were consulted. This collaborative approach was central to The Great Margin, which was conceived as a platform through which good practice, information, insight, tools and knowledge could be shared so that creative writing can become part of the fabric of our communities.
In 2020, due to Covid-19, Bambo had to rethink her approach to The Great Margin in order to meet the needs of people facing a loss of access to cultural provision. Her reworked project emphasised creating new knowledge and practices for shifting support to initiatives that could be conducted online, aiming to inform writer-facilitators who were navigating the challenges of supporting people constrained by social distancing.
Against the backdrop of increased need for connection, dialogue and creative action, The Great Margin joined other organisations to run a series of flash initiatives to combat loneliness and provide spaces for writing. Demand for the project grew, with thousands of emerging and established writers taking part – either through participation in online writing groups and events, and/or through partner projects who were embedding our methodologies into their approach.
The writer-facilitators and organisations who partnered on this project brought innovative approaches to developing, supporting, showcasing and connecting writers. They included BBC Upload, the British Library, The Stay-at-Home Literary Festival, StoryTown, Bath and North East Somerset Libraries, Bath Record Archives, and The Daily Haiku. Over 30,000 people engaged with The Great Margin events, with 72% of attendees saying their confidence increased and 76% saying their appreciation of the cultural and emotional value of writing increased.
Meanwhile, to further develop understanding of what ‘support’ for writers entails, Bambo has run a series of online workshops for writer-facilitators on the theme of inclusivity. She has also been mentoring ‘writing producers’ as part of a project seeking to embed the pedagogy of The Writer’s Cycle into the wider ecology.
Another part of the research has involved one-to-one discussions with writer-facilitators about how the pandemic has changed their approaches to writing. One of the people that she has been talking to is Neal Hoskins, owner of Wingedchariot Press, established to bring the best of children’s picture books from Europe to the UK. He organises the annual Digital Cafe programme of talks and events for the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Bambo was due to present her research at Digital Cafe in Bologna in February 2020. Instead, she has been talking to Neal online and has been running ‘digital cafes’ with other producers and facilitators.
For those of you who weren’t able to join in with these conversations in 2020, these field notes are intended as a playful record of our conversations, and an accessible introduction to the context of our research. For ease of reading, we are just presenting snippets here. If you are looking for detailed and sustained notes on our research process then please head here for a fully referenced set of contextualising notes on BathSPAdata.
Before we start: a note from Bambo on dialogical writing
My creative research entails working ‘alongside’ writing facilitators and cultural leaders. Every partnership is different but one method of collaboration that I use is 'dialogical writing'. The aim of this process is to engage in conversation through writing, rather to prepare a piece for publication . It's a way of thinking out loud on the page with collaborators. In a paper on the subject of dialogical writing, Jenny Helin explains the rationale behind this type of approach:
'I am particularly interested in how we can use writing to explore with the research participants, and so inquire into a more emergent, unfinished, and relational writing throughout the research process. This represents a way of working where writing becomes a ‘dialogical engagement’ [and] part of a conversation. '
In order to offer you an insight into my dialogical process, I have decided to publish some of my field notes. Each field note is presented in a different way. For example, in my conversation with Amanda White, we’ve made a clear distinction between her voice and mine. Whereas, in the following conversation with Neal Hoskins, we decided to present our dialogue in the style of a noticeboard. This reflects my process with Neal. At the start of the year, Neal interviewed me on several occasions about my approach to writer development with a view to offering his own thoughts about where I might take the project next. We then set up a GoogleDoc to keep a record of the interview transcript and to reflect on shared points of interests about how we might want to collaborate together in the future. The noticeboard below is an edited version of that Google Doc. It contains summaries of my responses to Neal; alongside his quotes, reflections and interjections
'With these considerations in mind, how can we move on? [...] When writing is approached as inquiry and a way of relating to others, the text is not only important for what it says – its meaning – but also for its capacity to spur new thinking, talking, and other (writing) initiatives. It thereby enables a writing that can come in different shapes, even a writing of the small word: a writing which is addressed to someone, which is of significance in the moment, but without claims to be valid for always. I hope to see further inquiries into such writing practices in the future’ Jenny Helin, 2016
Which way now for Writing?
These are thoughts and conversational snippets between Bambo Soyinka and Neal Hoskins on writing, and writing projects
A smorgasbord of ideas to bounce around, pin, cut out and paste to walls
So let’s begin:
It was an odd and silent Spring.
A languid, pensive Summer.
A turbulent, moody Autumn.
A Bleak Winter.
What’s happening to writing in 2020?
Has the struggle to be creative at this time brought forth new ideas?
Is there a heightened awareness of short-form work?
Can it be true - poetry is back in fashion?
Are pens, notebooks, and typewriters back ?
What does support for writers really entail?
What’s an online writing community?
What are YOUR thoughts?
What do we think?
Dare to Write? is part of a larger research project that looks at the place of writing in today's society, with a focus on emerging writers and/or young people. The research explores how, with support to regularly engage in writing, people can develop confidence in their ability to use language to express their own thoughts and ideas. It also looks at the importance of connection or ‘community’ to the process of writing.
ON Core Values
The aim is to inspire people to start and to commit to writing. The emphasis is not on creating polished books, it's more about enjoying the process of writing itself. It’s about taking a fun, playful and experiential approach to writing.
Reading is something that libraries, schools and teachers understand really well. It's accepted that to engage with literature, children need to enjoy reading. Teachers understand that reading expands your horizons helps you to empathise with other people. Reading enhances literacy, but people are more likely to engage with reading if it is fun. Our research has shown that writing has a parallel set of values to reading. To become a good writer, you also need to be a good reader. Our research involved extensive consultation with published authors, all of whom pointed to the importance of reading as a writer. But reading is not just about books. It's also just looking about the world or words around you. For example, words in shop windows, in songs or on labels of cereal packages. We are surrounded by words that infiltrate our perception of the world. If you engage with writing on a regular basis, it increases your capacity to express your experiences of the world and empathise with other people. Both reading and writing open up your horizons. Our research points to the importance of encouraging people to get a notebook and to take it out in the world, to write down their experiences as they encounter them. You can use a notebook to write down what you are feeling, seeing, and to jot ideas that emerge through interaction with the world.
Get a Notebook; Explore Writing, Explore Worlds and Just Write. These touchstones aim to encourage people to investigate the relationship between what they're sensing, what they're saying and what they're writing on the page. The idea is to make writing as fluid and as fluent as possible.
Dare to Write? consists of eight key touchstones which are divided into four themes. The first theme is discovery. The other themes are connection, craft and transformation. Each theme is important. But my discussion with Neal focused mainly on the theme of discovery. The first two touchstones in the discovery theme are get a notebook, and explore writing. The notebook is essential for a lot of reasons. It’s a tangible object that you can take around with you. But, it also has a metaphorical value. To me a notebook signifies a blank, open space.
These days children have less and less freedom to simply wander on the page, or even explore real spaces. This shift in culture, the loss of free time and space, is a risk to creativity. There’s a lot of pressure on young people from a very early age to be productive. As a child, I went to school in a very small village. And at the edge of the school, there were some woods. In those days we didn’t have a national curriculum. Instead, we had a simple rule: we had to complete three pieces of work a day (of our own choosing), and then we would go outside to play. At school I learnt to enjoy self-directed work and, also, play. Nowadays in schools, there's a constant emphasis on targets. Children have to follow a very strict agenda. I can see why some people think that it is important to have a curriculum. People who believe in ‘national curriculums’ want to raise standards and bring everybody to the same level.
But my concern is that, when the curriculum is too fixed, when there is no room for free play, we reduce that space for discovery. In order to write, in order to think, you need to have the space for playfulness. The notebook is a physical reminder to always keep that space for writing with you.
ON Pen and Paper
The pen and paper are possibly two of the greatest inventions of all time. They are relatively cheap and accessible to purchase. If you're going to pick one tool, probably a traditional notebook, and a pencil or a pen would be the best. But there are some great modern alternatives. So when I say ‘get a notebook’, I mean something that gives you the ability to record your thoughts and to edit them. It could be a computer, it could be an audio recorder, or a mobile phone. In the French new wave of film, Astruc had this idea of the ‘caméra-stylo’ - ‘the camera-pen’. The idea was that we might start to use audio-visual technology as we use pen and paper to record our observations of the world. Going back earlier, Vertov had the idea of the ‘kino-eye’, a mobile camera that could be used to create ‘film-essays’ based on your visual observations. I like these ideas and think that they have come of age.
ON the Internet
I've been thinking quite a lot over the last week about how the internet informs our experience of writing. And again, it's a demonstration of how words and language really do shape our relationship with the world. Personally, I try to avoid talking about ‘online spaces’ and ‘real’ spaces. It's hard to do this because our language forces us to distinguish between interactions in the ‘real’ and interactions ‘online’. But the way I see it, when we are in an online space we’ve not removed ourselves from the world - we are still in it. The real and the online overlap. The online space is just another space within the world. It’s just another opportunity to meet people, to connect, to do things, to gather your thoughts and ideas into some kind of order. So perhaps it’s better to talk about ‘physical’ and ‘online’ spaces and to think about how they overlap or mimic each other. Every space that you enter into, whether it’s a ‘physical’ space or an ‘online space’, has a structure to it. So within a classroom, the space is organised in a particular way. For example, the way in which the tables are laid out will influence your experience of learning. Compare, for example:
A classroom with a table of rows and the teacher at the front. And, a classroom with circular tables and the teacher at the centre. The structure of the class impacts on the structure of the learning experience.
Likewise, with an online environment - every online space has a structure to it, and this structure influences our experience. Online spaces can be conducive to exploratory learning, but they do have limitations. Obviously, what you lose within an online space are opportunities for physical interaction and movement. But, you gain other things as well; and you can play around with the set-up of online spaces.For example, right now where we're just talking, we’re speaking on audio-only call. We don’t have video images. We can’t see each other.
But, the loss of visual information forces us to focus on words. We’re listening carefully to what each other is saying. So, every element that you introduce provides an opportunity to focus your attention on something else. Sometimes, less is more. If you are creating an online environment to support the process of writing, it’s helpful to think about what you lose, and what you gain. You need to think about how the space you're providing supports people to explore words, people and ideas. How does the space enhance or inhibit the flow of writing?
ON Connection and Community
The next theme is about connection and community. This is about the ways in which you use your writing to connect to the world around you and to connect to other people. There are many ways to do that online. Increasingly, writing facilitators are running workshops (through Zoom, Google, etc.) or opportunities for people to attend festivals. I’ve heard that joint coffee breaks are also popular. Some people find that these online forms of interaction are not enough for them, because they lose the richness of the interaction you get when you're physically with people. Embodiment doesn't really translate well into the online environment. We’ve also seen the widening of the ‘digital divide’ throughout lockdown, as some people don’t have access to the bandwidth and equipment that many of us take for granted.
But on the other hand, for some people (for example, those that live in rural areas, or who have disabilities and can't travel) the internet is a lifeline - a way of opening the world for them. Here, the internet can be compared to a library or a bookstore - it is literally the world at your fingertips. Once you’ve done some exploring, the challenge is to come back to writing again. The connection theme is about relationships; human relationships and our relationship to the world. First we explore the world around us (physical and/or online). Then we can filter the world, and our relationships, through writing. So again, I think that the online environment can be a way to assist with that, but again it does have limitations. But, as said, we can always use limitations creatively, to focus our attention on new forms of language and expression.
On the Link Between Diversity and Support
A brief trawl of the literature points to strong links between support and diversity.
COMMON PEOPLE: BREAKING THE CLASS CEILING IN UK PUBLISHING identifies a need to: provide sustained support and engagement for (under-represented) writers, and demonstrates clear gains in doing so. Writers said they lacked networks amongst other writers who could provide moral support - who were ‘people like us’.
Rethinking 'Diversity' in Publishing from Spread The Word, also raises the issue of class in supporting and encouraging marginalised writers whose support networks do not develop in the same ways as more advantaged groups.
A Room of My Own from the RSL reports 65% of writers want peer support, 60% emotional support, 58% financial support. 54% identified lack of confidence in their ability as a problem.
Whilst the case for greater diversity is strong, more work is needed if we are to understand how to build online and in-person spaces that best support writers.
ON Writing Centres “An inspired learning environment sets the imagination on fire and makes a young person feel loved.”
ON a great reference book - “Unnecessarily Beautiful Spaces for Young minds on Fire”
ON Scuola Holden’s Fronte Del Borgo - Torino, Italy - Founded by Alessandro Baricco ‘One idea started off Holden School: the idea of a school where storytellers could be trained. Not writers. Nor playwrights. Nor film directors. Just storytellers.’ Alessandro Baricco
They are also a member of the https://eacwp.org
ON Fighting Words - Dublin, Ireland, founded by Roddy Doyle: Fighting words as revolutionary pedagogy: a Freirean reading of young people’s experiences of a socially-engaged creative writing centres the development of a model of creative space and its potential for transfer from non-formal to formal education. https://www.fightingwords.ie/dcu-report-fighting-words-model
ON learning languages ‘Yes, what you are saying is similar to when they speak different languages, they think a different way of thinking and maybe even personality. So perhaps personality, the way in which the writer is able to express themselves online is perhaps slightly different when you're sort of in your own bubble that is then transposed on an online area. Whereas if you're together with people in a room writing, you might think a little differently, you might be in a different frame of mind that although it's the same spacing or doing the same activity, to think there's some nuanced differences that some people might take more to that freedom of space online than others, and some people might actually enjoy more to have sort of the friendship and the camaraderie that comes with kind of people doing the same activity together or understanding each other.’ (NEAL HOSKINS in conversation with Bambo)
‘If nothing else, the year have taught me this, if there’s a pencil in your pocket, there’s a good chance that one day you’ll start using it.’ PAUL AUSTER
ON Notebooks x3
‘Each time I went to Paris, I would buy a fresh supply from a papeterie in the Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie. The pages were squared and the end-papers held in place with an elastic band. I had numbered them in series. I wrote my name and address on the front page, offering a reward to the finder. To lose a passport was the least of one’s worries: to lose a notebook was a catastrophe.’ BRUCE CHATWIN
‘My love of writing led me to theft at an early age. The diamonds in the museum, what I schemed and broke the rules to obtain, were the blank notebooks in my teacher’s supply cabinet, stacked in neat rows, distributed for us to write out sentences or practice math. The notebooks were slim, stapled together, featureless, either light blue or a brownish-yellow shade. The pages were lined, their dimensions neither too small nor too large. Wanting them for my stories, I worked up the nerve to request one or two from the teacher. Then, on learning that the cabinet was not always locked or monitored, I began helping myself to a furtive supply.’ JHUMPA LAHIRI
ON Writer’s Journey
In her wonderful essay/bio piece in the New Yorker (quoted above) Jhumpa Lahiri notes in great detail how the episode of even stealing a notebook then led her as a young teenager and then woman towards a writing life. I thoroughly recommend this piece for its nuance and finer details on how the ups and downs of living and becoming a person are so linked to understanding some of the paths to taking on writing which in many ways is key, as allowing one’s mind and even body to float out of your own and imagine others is so linked to the journey of writing, as Lahiri puts it:
‘When I began to make friends, writing was the vehicle. So that, in the beginning, writing, like reading, was less a solitary pursuit than an attempt to connect with others. I did not write alone but with another student in my class at school. We would sit together, this friend and I, dreaming up characters and plots, taking turns writing sections of the story, passing the pages back and forth.’
ON Writing Again
‘I’m on maybe my seventh rewrite, but I’m feeling, I don’t know if this will always happen, every book’s hard, but I’m feeling a sort of peace with the process now, which I certainly didn’t feel with Everything Under. I think part of being a writer is finding how you write as opposed to anyone else. And I may be getting there. We’ll see: no one’s read it yet.’ Daisy Johnson
‘What thrills me about typewriters, is that they are meant to do one thing and one thing only and with the tiniest amount of effort, maintenance, it will last a thousand years.' TOM HANKS
ON Pandemic Writing
‘I mean in the way that writing or reading can be so private, isolated, and yet is always social, always intersubjective, optimistic about connecting over time and space. Maybe the play of presence and absence, intimacy and distance, involved in writing and reading is actually a model, in these first months, of how to be together while apart. I don’t know. I’m finding it very hard to write. I am reading with intensity when the girls are asleep. Collective (if unjustly distributed) disaster is always a (horrible) reminder of our entanglement, our mutual dependence. This is true even as it highlights and intensifies the murderous inequalities of our society. Maybe one thing writers and artists do is find signs of social possibility among the wreckage, try to keep insisting on kinds of value and community beyond likes, Dow futures, massaged polls, whatever other bankrupt numerology. They find figures of social possibility stuck in the trees. I do think literature is a laboratory for developing or renewing languages of loving and mourning. There are the lists of essential businesses. But there must also, to borrow from Sei Shonagon, be lists of things that quicken the heart.’ BEN LERNER
The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijnevelside
ON Pandemic Programmes
‘Moving programs online, safely. We’ve created new programs for this challenging time, starting with tutoring sessions for the families in our four after-school programs. Our teen workshops meet weekly over video to build community and grow their writing skills. Our staff is also connecting with teachers and joining online classrooms to support with writing. We’re taking every precaution to keep our students safe while learning online, which means every tutoring session must include a 2:1 adult-to-student ratio to ensure safety. Our goal is to serve 600 students and 25 teacher partners in this new program model while under shelter-in-place. What we learned was that the digital divide is stark, and technology and wifi are often obstacles to accessing classwork. We worked quickly to distribute our own laptops to any families who needed them, spent time coaching students and families one-on-one over the phone to help them access learning tools, created handbooks translated into our students’ home languages, and are working hard to leverage corporate support to help families get access to hotspots.’
ON Pandemic Writing Projects
ON Near and Far Are all the Same These Days
Earlier this year, Fighting Words and Fighting Words NI were invited by Ordskælv, our friends and sister organisation in Denmark, to take part in the Global Writing Lockdown. Three of our writers recorded themselves sharing some of their work. Click HERE to watch Rosy, HERE to watch Nollaig and HERE to see Josh.
These field notes are intended as a playful record of our conversations, and as an accessible introduction to the context of our research. For ease of read, we are just presenting snippets here. If you are a traditional researcher and/or you are looking for detailed and sustained notes on our research process then you will find a fully referenced set of contextualising notes on BathSPAdata.
Neal is just one of many inspiring writing producers and facilitators that I have collaborated with over the past five years. Below are links to some of the other facilitators and organisations that we’ve been working with since the launch of our 2015 programme and who have been key partners in the development of our action-research projects. Towards the end of the list, we’ve included some facilitators who we’ve come across online since the start of lockdown and want to celebrate:
First story is an organisation that aims to advance the education of students in secondary schools in low-income communities by providing facilities for education in creative writing that aren’t required to be provided by the local education authority. It aims to help young people advance in life by providing support, opportunities and activities which foster their creativity, literacy and talent, in order to build self-confidence, skills and aspiration so they may grow to full maturity as individuals and members of society.
‘We’re working towards a society that encourages and supports young people from all backgrounds to write creatively for pleasure and agency. We believe there is dignity and power in being able to tell your own story and that writing can transform lives. Our programmes equip young people with the skills and confidence to tell their stories well and to thrive in life and education.’
First Story was the lead partner on the first phase of our research. We worked with them to create and evaluate the value of creative writing for young people, including the first ever National Writing Day.
Not all ‘Writer Facilitators’ consider themselves as authors and some organisations work across a range of art forms. House of Imagination involves multi-professional teams working in partnership to support children and young people in environments of enquiry, challenging orthodoxies and developing new ways of thinking. Working as artists allows children to have opportunities for exploration, to find and follow their fascinations, stimulating the imagination and encouraging creative thinking. This approach integrates a creative and reflective pedagogy, with research at the heart of the process.
‘We have a clear set of values and principles, which underpins all the work we do together. These include the image of children as creative active citizens; trusting in children’s ideas, curiosity and questions; valuing the processes of co-enquiry and reflection; prioritising space, time and the quality of attention, with adults as companions in learning; and inviting children to express their ideas in a “hundred languages’” (Malaguzzi, 1996). Inspired by real art, our work invites children to be immersed in learning inside and outside the classroom, building bridges between theory and reality, schools and communities, and young people and their futures.’ Penny Hay, Reader in Creative Teaching and Learning and Senior Lecturer in Arts Education, School of Education Bath Spa University and Director of Research, House of Imagination
I’ve been collaborating with Penny and Forest of the Imagination since 2015 on a range of action-research to explore the value and cultural application of creative pedagogies.
Bath Festivals offers year-round programmes of music and literature projects which give children and young people opportunities to work with leading arts professionals, gain real-world experience, grow passions and interests, gain access to cultural events and create and produce their own events.
During the first phase of our research we worked in collaboration with Bath Festivals and Hazel Plowmen, Rebecca Tantony, and Mentoring Plus, to embed the principles of The Writer’s Cycle into a wide range of projects across Bath. These included projects with Bath Community College, with Rebecca Tantony, and with Bristol Children’s Hospital. Hazel Plowmen played a lead role in the development of our ethical code of conduct and contributed to the development of Dare to Write?
Clare Reddaway runs writing workshops and has moved all face-to-face meetings online due to Covid. In more normal times, she runs short story workshops at her home in central Bath. She has recently been asked to run some writing workshops at Clifton Library in Bristol.
‘I write plays, short stories and the occasional article. I live in Bath in south-west England.
I love stories: writing them, reading them, listening to them, eavesdropping on them. I like stories as a form of performance. I’ve read my stories to anyone who will listen at events and festivals around the south of England, for years. I also write plays, a different version of story-telling. I love the way my words and stories sound when taken and transformed by actors and directors.’
StoryTown is a year-round project to unite the Corsham community through the love of story in all its forms. Its purpose is to stimulate creativity and love of story-related arts, to connect disparate parts of the community, give focus to the town’s arts-related activities and businesses, and to establish a brand for Corsham that showcases all it has to offer. Paper Nations has been a key partner with StoryTown since its inception and my research into The Writer's Cycle has informed the approach and structure of the initiative.
StoryTown’s structure of support
StoryTown is intentionally open-architecture in nature. Events can take place at any time of the year, with the focus on three days in the third weekend in October. Any group, business, individual, school, club, venue or combination of them can create their own StoryTown events or even attach an established event to the StoryTown calendar. This year’s festival took place between the 16th and 18th of October and boasted a huge line-up of writing activities, workshops and live performances to entertain, inspire and celebrate storytelling in all its forms. Most events will be offered online, free of charge, and a few events will be held in person in venues across Corsham.
‘The Poetry Place is a monthly radio broadcast bringing you news, views, readings and interviews from the local poetry community and beyond. Presented by Trowbridge Stanza friends, Dawn Gorman and Peter O’Grady, it offers inspiration and food for thought for everyone, from those who enjoy listening to the occasional poem, to people writing and publishing their own work.’
Radio shows throughout the day focusing on poetry.
For details of other local poetry events, see Dawn's website’
The Stay at Home Literature Festival is an entirely virtual literary festival with the aim of combating loneliness, championing inclusivity and accessibility, and celebrating books! Established by CJ Cooke in partnership with Paper Nations in March 2020 as part of our Great Margin initiative, The Stay at Home Festival ran from 27th March throughout 11th April, featured 220 authors across 145 events, and was attended by 15k people all over the world. We will be back in Spring 2021!
I've been collaborating with Caleb since 2015 and recently wrote a short opinion piece on the Writer's Cycle. Caleb Parkin is an eco poet & facilitator, based in Bristol. He won second prize in the National Poetry Competition 2016, first in the Winchester Poetry Prize 2017, and various other competition shortlists. He has poems published in The Rialto, Poetry Review, Under the Radar, Butcher’s Dog, Coast to Coast to Coast, Strix, Magma, Envoi, Lighthouse, Finished Creatures, Tentacular and Molly Bloom. He tutors for Poetry Society, Poetry School and First Story. In 2019, he completed an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes through Metanoia Institute.
NAWE's mission is to advocate for Creative Writing: enhancing knowledge and understanding of the subject, supporting writers and good practice in teaching and facilitation in all settings. ‘NAWE aims to put creativity at the heart of education. We believe that everyone should have contact with practising artists, and especially writers.’
We’ve been collaborating closely with NAWE since 2015 and during lockdown we ran several workshops with them to explore the theme of inclusivity. During the first phase of our research, a committee featuring educators from small and large organisations (including First Story, Arvon, and Ministry of Stories) was formed to review and shape our early drafts of The Writer’s Cycle in early 2018. One such draft was featured in Writers In Education magazine (Issue Vol. 76) and presented to the National Association of Writers in Education Conference in November 2018 for further feedback.
Speaking of the final report released with respect to the first phase of this research NAWE’s Chair, Jonathan Davidson, said: ‘This report highlights the importance of writing for pleasure, of exploration and play, and the role of creative writing in building confidence for children and young people. It outlines the vital role played by networks in supporting good practice and developing vibrant writing communities, as well as making recommendations to help the sector meet the needs of pupils, writers, and teachers. We look forward to working with our partners in the next phase, and to building a creative writing ecology that supports all writers in education.’
We don’t have space to list all of the partners that we’ve worked with here but further case studies and vignettes can be found on BathSpaData. We continue to work with an active advisory board, members of whom include: Gill Pawley (InkPots), Penny Hay (Bath Spa University/House of Imagination), Dionne McCulloch, Patricia Minson (Falmouth Town Council), Mary Morris (Arvon), Alison Powell (Write Club), Sarah Forbes (Cheltenham Festivals), Judith Robinson (Bath Spa University).