Member news: June 2024

My big news is the publication of my second children’s book The Voyage of Sam Singh! I’ve been on the road to promote it, doing workshops with young writers in schools, arts centres, libraries and at festivals. 

The recent National Literacy Trust report showed a decline in young people’s enjoyment of writing but I’m always amazed by the creativity of young poets. I give them an accessible form (acrostics, haiku) – and they’re off! A seven year old recently wrote five excellent poems in ten minutes flat.

I’ve also really enjoyed working with poet Oli Isaac on our collaborative poem for Bloomsbury Festival as part of 26 Connections, our project with Barbican Young Poets alumni.

Might a 26 Writers in Schools project be on the cards one day?

My first children’s book, The Destiny Of Minou Moonshine is available here, and The Voyage of Sam Singh is available here from Bloomsbury Books. Or visit my website, here.

– Gita Ralleigh


Had a brill time at the Young Poet Laureate’s Shortlisted event on Saturday 15th June courtesy of invite from National Literacy Trust co-ordinator Sharena Lee Satti.

Was a little nervous of the poet who opened the event – especially as Tracy Brabin, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Mayor, funding support for the project – was there.

The young people’s poetry was tremendous. Their topics were profound, personal, deeply moving about lived experiences, climate change, the future. Their skill with words blew me away – and their confidence at getting up and performing was amazing. With latest research showing how few children write for pleasure at home, or have interest in it – such initiatives as these really buck the trend.

– Irene Lofthouse


I have 2 pieces of news this month. The first is a joint adventure with Sophie Gordon. We met for a walk recently and I interviewed her about her new role as Chair of 26 and published it on my site, The Writer’s Walk: Interview with Sophie Gordon.

The second is more personal. I ran my first in-person ‘walkshops’ as The Writer’s Walk at Wellness in the Wild festival this month. We walked, we talked and we wrote. And I found a perfect spot for writing by the river.

– Sarah Farley


I had an essay published by The Cincinnati Review! The essay is titled “On Being Envious of Able-Bodied Writers from the Global North” and explores my envy of able-bodied writers from the Global North for:

  • being able-bodied and not having the limitations that my disabled body has
  • having the privilege to be able to write consistently, a privilege I don’t take for granted
  • the access to publishing opportunities, residencies, fellowships, awards, and grants that are based on citizenship 
  • the access to a vibrant artistic ecosystem and a public and private arts infrastructure that supports artists

and concludes with:

  • recommendations for how able-bodied writers from the Global North can take account of their privilege; and elevate the work of marginalized folks from the Global South. 
  • an acknowledgement of my privilege relative to my peers in the Global South, and a declaration to continue leveraging my privileges to elevate marginalized voices and fight against marginalization and oppression. 

Read the essay here and let me know what you think! 

Anyone with thoughts on the essay can email me at: mugabibyenkya@gmail.com 

– Mugabi Byenkya


This month I was in an amateur production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado”. It was a Romanised version so Nanki-poo became Quintilus, Yum-Yum became Ilium and the Mikado became the emperor Augustus. I was playing a delightfully hammed up Augustus and had an absolute blast.

– Harry Ashton-Key


One year ago today:

16 June: Delivering Bradford Brilliant Lasses event at Bradford Literature Festival for 800 primary school students – on a very hot Friday afternoon!

21-25 June: Alnwick Castle Gardens working on a KS2 learning resource for magical Lillidorie – and a few days walking/biking.

– Irene Lofthouse

I was in Nairobi this time last year! Attending the Inclusive Africa Conference 2023 for which I was shortlisted as one of 3 finalists for the Inclusive Africa Icon Award 2023, as well as selected as a panelist. I spent an extra week and a half in Nairobi after the conference spending time with my sister, brother-in-law and some friends!

– Mugabi Byenkya

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