Monthly Archives: April 2013

Writing for Children Conference

Saturday 23 February 2013 saw an inspiring celebration of Welsh children’s authors and illustrators . In partnership with the University of Glamorgan, Literature Wales organised the Writing for Children Conference as part of the South Wales Literature Development Initiative.

One hundred people experienced a full day of talks, workshops and conversation including: exploring author and illustrator collaboration; rugby zombies, speed dating for authors and illustrators, how to compose an interesting story and digitizing children’s publishing to name but a few. There were plenty of chances to get involved with writing and drawing too.

The conference was held in collaboration with the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Tŷ Crawshay, the University of Glamorgan, Treforest Campus. Philip Gross and Phil Carradice introduced an exciting day featuring a wealth of talented authors, illustrators and publishers including: Young People’s Laureate – Catherine FisherRuth Morgan, Chris Glynn, Ifor Thomas, Thomas Docherty,  Dan Anthony, Huw Aaron and Mike Church. There was a presentation on digitizing Children’s Publishing by Kate Wilson, Director of Nosy Crow and the unique opportunity of eight one to one sessions with Viv Sayer, editor of Gomer.

The Conference attracted and celebrated the creative writing talents of people of all ages and abilities including young squad members, creative writing and illustration students and adults with an interest in writing for children.  It was an ideal event to showcase a particular genre of literature which is gaining more popularity and interest and helped to promote its enjoyment and relevance today.

Participants comments:

‘Good range of speakers and friendly staff’

‘Very useful and enjoyable event’

‘A good mix of speakers and I felt I learned alot

‘Brilliant, very informative, well organised, fascinating day’

‘Excellent programme and speakers very inspiring’

‘Thoroughly enjoyable and well organised. Loved every minute’

‘Good setting, excellent speakers. Shame it had to end’

Llangatwg Secondary School

Throughout January and early February 2013 Mike Church led for creative writing workshops with specially selected pupils at Llangatwg Secondary School.

The workshops explored a range of issues and writing techniques including identity, dreams for the future, school in a variety of free verse poems.

The work created had been used to create a book, which will serve as a lasting celebration of the workshops. Each pupil has received a copy and it is stoked in local libraries in Neath Port Talbot.

Examples of poems:


The school is quiet

the shouting, the screaming,

all that sound


No teachers telling off,

yelling from the classroom door


No odd notes

from the music room

sounds from French

you don’t understand

numbers from maths you just don’t know

No bell ringing

All is peaceful

All is quiet

from everything

Hannah Bradshaw

A packet of crisps

sat waiting in the cupboard

waiting for what?

The beginning?

The end?

A packet of crisps

sat waiting on the chair

waiting for what?

To be eaten?

Or sat on?

A chewed blanket

laying there

just for the dog


to be chewed some more

Fa Khemthong

Make Some Noise


As part of the Young People’s Laureate initiative, Literature Wales launched another Wales-wide performance project , this time dedicated specifically to young carers. Eight local authorities and over 100 young people have been given the opportunity to take part in Make Some Noise, which has enabled and encouraged young people to make themselves heard in unique and creative ways.

A series of workshops led by a team of authors and performers explored the theme of Identity through a range of mediums, from emceeing to autobiography and spoken word to storytelling. The project focused on the issues and interests of young people who take on a caring role. The groups have had the opportunity to make a recording of their piece with professional musicians, and each group’s contribution to the project has been showcased over several events across Wales, and online, in the Spring of 2013.

Young Carers groups in Flintshire, Powys, Pembrokeshire, Monmouthshire, Newport, Torfaen, Caerphilly and Bridgend are each working with a writer to create a performance piece upon the theme of ‘Identity’. The writers team, dedicated to encouraging confidence and creativity throughout their time with the young carers will be Sophie McKeand, Tyler Keevil, Matthew Plumb, Patrick Jones, Mike Church, Rufus Mufasa(Ruth Evans), Mark Blayney and Anita Flowers.

Make Some Noise is supported by a grant from the Millennium Stadium Charitable Trust.

Four projects have taken place within the area of the South Wales Development Initiative and been supported by the development officer including: Bridgend with Mike Church, Cwmfelinfach, Caerphilly with Rufus Mufasa, Thornhill, Torfaen with Patrick Jones and Newport with Mark Blayney.

Patrick Jones worked with young carers in Torfaen over February half term. They produced a moving and powerful poem, a protest, a manifesto for Wales and the world.

Patrick Jones comments about the project included:
‘What a great group of young writers. From the outset we were discussing some pretty hefty issues and the group all participated with thoughtful, mature remarks and ideas upon such issues as bullying, environmental care, politics, being yourself and education.
‘I read some poems to get them thinking about what a poem is, and then some initial exercises to unleash their inner poets. These included ‘I need you’ by John Hegley – which had the group grappling with rhyme , rhythm and poetic images of care and friendship – then a poem by a Palestinian prisoner called ‘I Shall’. We discussed what the group would do if they ruled the world: what things they would change and what they would build. We called this declaration ‘We Shall’ and worked on it as a group, with everyone adding lines and editing sections. It started to form in a very democratic manner, ending with a sharing of the work in progress; I think the group were quite worn out from all the mental exertion!’

‘The second session began with going over the ‘We Shall’ poem, which everyone decided was the one to develop into a musical track. We then worked on some performance exercises to encourage the group to read aloud in different ways and this meant that they started to own the poem, feel the poem and really speak it so it conveyed their inner voice. The group then began to belt it out with gusto and inspiration; quite a magical moment. At one point readers were up on cupboards(Health and safety alert!!!!) shouting the words out- brilliant! We worked on a few writing exercises to juggle with the group’s inner poet voices then ended with a final rendering of ‘We Shall’- it blew me away. For the final session, the musician came along to turn this word beast into a musical beast so we ran through a reading of the poem with each member taking 4 lines and truly owning the words and sentiment of the poem. The musician worked on sounds and musical ideas as the group took it in turns to read their chosen section- it really worked and makes a great performance piece.’
‘All in all a great three day project where the members all wrote fantastic meaningful words based on their own reality their own thoughts and in their own voice- rock on you poets of the next generation!

We shall prevent war terrorism and harm
Use justice to keep calm
We shall take care of the poor and the ill using medicines and lots of skills
We shall put a stop to the bad things on the earth poaching poverty pollution create a curse
We shall stop the rattling rampage of riots
the demanding desperation of diets
We shall shape the next generation
By not dividing a nation
by not submitting to temptation
as are travelling to our shining destination
We shall
paint pride
stop the abuse of children
we all need to survive
do what we can to stay alive
do what we can to thrive
by The Torfaen Young Carers Group, February 2013

The young carers in Newport worked with performance poet Mark Blayney, who said:

“The group developed several ideas that can be drawn together as a final piece and the main take-outs are, that people choose their identities by the music they like. People can act in a certain way based on their music likes and dislikes, and they can object to other people just based on those different tastes.
“Some expressions the group wanted to say include ’stereotyping;’ how people judge you’; ‘how chavs tend to bully people because they’re stupid’; ‘they have a war’; ‘moshers can be bullies too’ and ‘how people criticise just by looking at you.’ ”
Social stereotyping is a key issue for young people as they explore who they are in relation to what, and who, surrounds them.
The group intend to create a short dialogue, or drama which expresses the conflicts between different social groups.

The Young Carers in Caerphilly:

Rufus Mufasa worked with a larger group of around twenty young carers. New members joined the session and they soon picked up the task at hand.
Rufus said:
“The group were excited and remembered what we learnt at the last session so the flow into the second session was effortless.
This flow ran through the session, setting up tasks to follow into other tasks, which made the process a journey for the members.
“Assigning group members separate rap sections to experiment with really got them working together and I was buzzing watching their confidence grow. They started using cups to bang beats out of desks, clapping, and stamping to enhance their performances. One member played the piano… It started to resemble Jools Holland’s show, or like the Sister Act film where she teaches teenagers in a music class. Beautiful. The group and I were hyped/pumped up, and although they worked on sections, they were still working as a team for an overall piece/performance. ”

In the final session, I was amazed at how advanced their input was, they really understood what we were doing and were thinking so creatively.

The session was fast paced and I was so involved and directed and conducted the group to complete it in time to get it recorded. It sounded amazing and the energy levels and confidence of the individuals blossomed. I didn’t realise that so many photos had been taken of us “in action”, and it was beautiful to see and admire what we were all creating. The photos were filled with smiles and laughter, and that was beautiful to see, and the best outcome to any workshop is that everyone has had fun.
One member of the group, who was painfully shy when we first started the project, asked if we could use a piece of a song she’d written. We both had a microphone, but I slowly walked away from mine when I thought she was safe and brave enough to do it alone. In three sessions the member had transformed. It was beautiful.
Genuinely one of the most amazing and inspiring projects I have had the pleasure of being involved in. I gave so much every week but the group gave more. I learnt so much about myself and capabilities as a facilitator that I wish I was doing this work every day. Thank you for this amazing opportunity.

Bridgend Young Carers

Mike Church commented:
It was pleasing to note that the group leader reported that the children had been speaking really positively about their time with the project and she also told us that some members of the group had contributed more in the three weeks than she’d ever seen from them before…..

The final showcase was really well attended by the Bridgend group and again the group leader said they were excited about the event….I spoke with all of them on the evening and they really enjoyed hearing their final piece when it was played and felt proud of what they’d achieved…they all wanted a copy of their performance

I think the project was very worthwhile for the Young Carers and was, for me, a humbling experience to hear of the demands made on their time and the commitment they give to their families.