Length of time at Fighting Words NI:
I became a volunteer in 2015, then in 2016 created a special writing project for the Connswater Community Greenway and east Belfast schools, inspired by classroom readings of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, focussed on each of the characters that are represented in sculptures at CS Lewis Square. I took on the Project Coordinator role at Fighting Words at the end of 2017.
Describe a typical day in your role.
No such thing. I often begin by turning on the multicoloured lights in our workspace bookshelves –then I look forward with a sigh to the time when we can fill the room again with a school group and our fantastic volunteer mentors. Until then we’re having a lot of fun delivering our creative writing workshops online.
I also spend time connecting with teachers – either introducing them to our work or reading their feedback after their class has written a story with us. Those might be my favourite moments, hearing from a teacher’s perspective about the impact of the creative time we spend with their pupils.
Sometimes I write 25 emails in a day. Is that a lot?
I also design new ways of inspiring writing, through special projects we deliver with partner organisations, often collaborating with visual artists and writers. I love making plans with my brilliant colleagues!
What’s been your proudest achievement or favourite moment while working with Fighting Words?
I have a reason to feel proud of our young writers every single day – there’s always a new piece of writing that makes me smile, takes my breath away with its originality, or surprises me.
My proudest achievement? Introducing Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to 70+ teenagers in our Friends & Monsters project. The anthology of poetry and stories that it inspired is the first thing I show off to visitors to FWNI.
Not many people know this about me, but...
One of my favourite jobs ever was working on a tumble dryer assembly line in Sydney. It gave me time to think about the novel I’d be reading on my train journey home. My workmates came from ALL over the world and I valued our camaraderie.
In my spare time I coordinate a Shared Reading project based in the Duncairn arts centre. We read aloud and discuss short stories and poetry in small groups, every week, in all kinds of settings. Reading for pleasure – it’s wonderful to share that with others, both friends and strangers.