Hive poets support Roger Robinson at Off the Shelf Festival

We’re thrilled two emerging young poets from the Hive network  – Lauren Hollingsworth-Smith, 18 and Georgie Woodhead, 17 – will be giving support readings of work from their forthcoming debut pamphlets alongside the mighty Roger Robinson at Off the Shelf Festival of Words on 27th Oct. 

Watch again here.

Chosen by Decibel as one of 50 writers who have influenced the black-British writing canon over the past 50 years, Roger Robinson’s latest collection A Portable Paradise is the winner of the TS Elliot Poetry Prize 2019 and the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2020.  These powerful poems express a fierce anger against injustice, but also convey the irrepressible sense that Robinson cannot help but love people for their humour, oddity and generosity of spirit.

His poems are deep, mature, moving and inventive – Bernadine Evaristo for New Statesman

Both Lauren and Georgie are New Poets Prize 2020 winners, whose debut pamphlets will be published by the Poetry Business in 2021. Among many other accolades, they are also both previous recipients of Foyle Year Poet of the Year and the Young Northern Writers Award.  Georgie won the BBC Young Writer of the Year 2019 and Lauren will be Young Poet in Residence at Sheaf Poetry Festival later this year. Praise for their work:

Hollingsworth–Smith’s poems are immediately and joyfully readable even at their darkest, and Ugly Bird is full of masterful juxtapositions, emotional swerves and perfect details. It’s such a skill to navigate these waters with such attentiveness; defiant, ecstatic powers of observation transfiguring the ordinary with wit and self-awareness.” Luke Kennard on Lauren’s collection, Ugly Bird

Takeaway is a vivid and powerful collection. Expansive but precise lines and stanzas give Woodhead the space to explore the lives and scenes she depicts. So many of the images here are breathtaking and will really stay with me. Uncompromising in its depiction of brutalities without ever sacrificing the humanity and compassion of the poet’s vision.” – Luke Kennard on Georgie’s collection, Takeaway

You do not need to book for this event.  Simply click on the link which will appear on this page.
Facebook event

She Will Soar Anthology

‘A stunning book featuring 130 poems about wanderlust, freedom and escape written by women’.

We’re so excited that New Poets Prize 2020 winner, Lauren Hollingsworth Smith, at just 18 years old, will be published in a new anthology of female poets, alongside talents such as Carol Ann Duffy, Grace Nichols and Mary Jean Chan. She Will Soar (Pan MacMillan) edited and compiled by Ana Sampson is due out on 17th September 2020.

For several years Lauren has been a member of Hive Poetry collective and Rotherham Young Writers. She’s a recipient of the Young Northern Writers Award and was a Foyle Young Poet of the Year 2019. Lauren has recently joined the Writing Squad. Her debut pamphlet Ugly Bird will be published by the Poetry Business in 2021.

More about She Will Soar

With poems from classic, well-loved poets as well as innovative and bold modern voices, She Will Soar is a stunning collection and an essential addition to any bookshelf. From the ancient world right up to the present day, it includes poems on wanderlust, travel, daydreams, flights of fancy, escaping into books, tranquillity, courage, hope and resilience. From frustrated housewives to passionate activists, from servants and suffragettes to some of today’s most gifted writers, here is a bold choir of voices demanding independence and celebrating their hard-won power.

Immerse yourself in poems by Carol Ann Duffy, Christina Rossetti, Stevie Smith, Sarah Crossan, Emily Dickinson, Salena Godden, Mary Jean Chan, Charly Cox, Nikita Gill, Fiona Benson, Hollie McNish and Grace Nichols to name but a few.

Buy She Will Soar

Creative Writing for bi-lingual tongues

Join award-winning British-Somali poet, Warda Yassin, for a writing workshop exploring all things language. Warda will encourage you to use the words you love from the tongues you speak (or maybe know only a little of!) and write in the dialects, and even the slang, that matters to you. Participants also have the opportunity to edit and record a piece for a follow on podcast. All levels of writing experience and interests welcome across two age groups and sessions. Expect and warm, supportive and relaxed atmosphere.

Suitable for young people of dual heritage aged 14-19 years and 20-30years for in South Yorkshire
(if you’re interested and outside the South Yorkshire region, get in touch anyway and we will try and fit you in)

Warda also runs Mixing Roots – writing workshops for young people of colour. More info here.
FREE:  Places are limited & must be booked
Tues 27 Oct 1-3pm (14-19s) & (20-30s) to be rescheduled – do get in touch if you’re interested!
Where: online/camera not essential
To reserve a place:
Facebook event

Organised by Hive South Yorkshire in partnership with Off the Shelf 

Warda Yassin is a British Somali poet and English teacher. She writes about her Somali heritage and community and in 2018 was a winner of the New Poets Prize. Her debut pamphlet Tea with Cardamom came out with The Poetry Business in 2019. 

Hive Young Writers’ Days
Hive Young Writers’ Days are a chance for young writers, whatever your interest and ability, to develop your writing with support from professional writers, while meeting other young writers, and getting involved in the Hive young writers’ network.

Writing poetry about people with Jonathan Edwards

Now full. Contact if still interested as we might get a drop out. 

‘So this is how we love – by these doodles.’ runs the definition of writing poems in Glyn Maxwell’s wonderful book On Poetry. From Shakespeare to Duffy, many of the best and most emotive poems are written for and about those people the writers’ love (and sometimes, those they don’t love so much!)

Join us for a special Sheaf Poetry Festival Hive masterclass 22nd Nov with award-winning Welsh poet, Jonathan Edwards, and be inspired by a wide range of great people-populated poems – exploring what gives them the pulse, the nub, the heart that captures the weird, sad, tender and wonderful aspects of being humans.

Jonathan knows a thing or two about writing people as is evident in his two fabulous award-winning collections. Expect a fun and insightful writing day working with a much-celebrated Welsh poet, and emerge joyous, waving your doodles above your head in triumph!

So this is how we love:
Writing poetry about people with Jonathan Edwards
Hive in collaboration with Sheaf Poetry Festival

Sunday 22nd Nov: 1.30 – 4.15 (with a break)
Where: Zoom (cameras not nec)
Cost: £5 | If you’re outside of South Yorkshire £6 (Priority for young writers who entered Hive young writers’ competition 2020)
Open to writers aged 15 to 26 of any experience (get in touch too if that’s almost you!)

Jonathan Edwards’s first collection, My Family and Other Superheroes (Seren, 2014), received the Costa Poetry Award and the Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice Award, and was shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. His second collection, Gen (Seren, 2018), also received the Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice Award. His poem about Newport Bridge was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2019, and he has received prizes in the Ledbury Festival International Poetry Competition, the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition and the Cardiff International Poetry Competition. He has read his poems on BBC radio and television and at festivals around the world, recorded them for the Poetry Archive and led workshops in schools, universities and prisons. Jonathan is the editor of Poetry Wales.

The lovely draw are courtesy of: David Lanham

Brick by Brick

How Covid Changed My Perspective

As an almost 18-year-old suffering from chronic and mental illnesses, this lockdown was never going to be easy – throw in a mum and sister who are also health-compromised, a dog, two cats, a guinea pig, and a hedgehog, and you have one heck of a household – but what I didn’t see coming was how Covid could change my life for the better.

This year seemed to be going well. I was studying journalism at college, I’d made new friends, my braces were due off, and I was close to taking my driving test. Standard teen/young adulting stuff for most, but for me, it marked a shift in life that was quite a big deal.

Since around 12 years old, I’ve been suffering from what clinicians have called, as an umbrella term, ‘chronic widespread pain’. This also includes fatigue, dizziness, restless legs and memory loss. I’ve ended up doing what a lot of people do, researching what’s wrong myself to find answers.

I’ve ended up doing what a lot of people do, researching what’s wrong myself to find answers.

For a while I’ve been aware, everything points to me having Fibromyalgia, a condition my mum has, that’s characterised by all of the above issues. I’ve ticked every symptom box. I’m currently in limbo between child and adult services but even so, they don’t like to diagnose Fibro in kids. Now the occupational therapist and the psychologist are starting to agree, it’s likely what I have.

What I’ve dealt with for the last 5 or so years has been really tough. It’s hard enough going through your teen years, but with pain and fatigue, your mind is constantly consumed by a heavy weight that never leaves you. You accept a lot of limitations about the life you can lead.

But as I said, things were definitely looking up. Although I still had battles with myself daily, my pain continuing to restrict what I could do, and it was still a struggle to wake up every morning (or afternoon), I had managed to strengthen my stamina and build a routine after years of fighting. This was a real milestone. I felt like the wall I had put all my energy into breaking was slowly coming down, brick by brick.

This was a real milestone. I felt like the wall I had put all my energy into breaking was slowly coming down, brick by brick.

Then, from nowhere, there was suddenly something new and dangerous behind it. Something even scarier than the torment my brain created – Coronavirus. Everything ground to a halt and I was back to being home every day like I used to be, re-living pyjama days, eating biscuits for breakfast watching This Morning, feeling imprisoned in my own home. I had lived that way for years and now I was back in it.

We were shielding from the beginning of lockdown because my sister is immune-compromised. From the off, I struggled with a lot of unpleasant thoughts from the past resurfacing. I saw flashes of me running up the stairs and locking myself in the bathroom so I didn’t have to go to school, I felt the anxiety of bracing myself for my mum coming in in the morning asking if I was up to going in that day – the answer was always no.

My mind was playing games with me, but I knew I had to move away from how I was feeling and vowed to shut the lid on my box of self-hatred. My main focus and worries were always my mum and sister; they’re my rocks and I knew we were more vulnerable to the virus, so I just hoped my fears would never become more than figments of my imagination.

When you have a condition that causes constant pain and fatigue, it’s hard to know if you’re suffering from another illness, or if it’s just a flare-up. I guess we just held on to the hope that our mum had a really bad chest infection and it wasn’t Coronavirus. It couldn’t be, right?

Things changed in a flash; the sudden turn from coping to her struggling to breathe, calling 111 for advice, then following the paramedic’s instructions and taking her to A&E. I remember sitting in the car checking my phone every minute for updates, feeling hopeless and returning home to check on our pets, crying and praying while clutching the cross on my necklace. Eventually, we got the good news that Mum could come home.

Those days were some of the hardest of my life. My sister and I had to try and look after everything ourselves while helping Mum as much as possible. I remember breaking down on the kitchen floor, asking why me? and creeping around outside her bedroom when she finally got some sleep and pressing my ear on the door to make sure she was still breathing.

Thankfully she slowly started to recover and normality began to return. The after-effects of the virus are brutal though, and still cause trouble for us all – my sister and me fortunately got away with having mild cases too.

So how has Covid then changed my life for the better you might ask?

Well, certainly not the disease itself, but how it changed my thinking and really shifted me to face the future I’m determined to have. Through the rainstorm of anxiety, this frightening experience, when everything I have, and everyone I love, was no longer stable, it awoke in me a fierce desire to live, and to see all the reasons why, despite everything, I’m still lucky and grateful in many ways. I come from a household of strong women, there’s no dad or husband, it’s just us and we all have health conditions, but we are here and we have each other.

It was the kind of epiphany that can only come from recognising what we might lose and how precious that is. Depression has pretty much ruled my life for the past five years, making it incredibly difficult to feel like a good person who deserves a beating heart and a happy life.

Depression has pretty much ruled my life for the past five years, making it incredibly difficult to feel like a good person who deserves a beating heart and a happy life.

But the thought of my life and world being pulled from under me made me realise just how much I wanted to be here. It’s made me step back and think about everything I still want to do and how my story really is only just beginning. I thought about how far I’ve already come, and how I want to get back on that road the moment the outside world lets me.

This feels like a breakthrough in my psychology. The last piece falling into place. While I wish Coronavirus had never happened, and my family (and so many around the world) weren’t impacted by this awful disease, it’s given me the time and mind-set to work through past regrets and decide that I do deserve to live. And to hold onto the future that I can see more clearly for the first time, to be excited and hopeful for it. Every day is still tough, and things aren’t just suddenly okay, but I’m now walking through daylight and I’m back taking down the wall again, brick by brick.

By Erin Memmott

Erin Memmott is a 17-year-old student studying Journalism and Social Media Communications. She’s an aspiring journalist passionate about hard-hitting issues such as mental and physical illnesses in young people and politics. In summer 2020 she was a guest editor for the Sheffield Star newspaper. Follow her on Twitter @MemmottErin

Hot Day in a Tesco Queue by Melanie Hopkins

At some point over the past few months, most of us will have found ourselves standing in a supermarket queue (possibly snaking around a car park) probably bored, and definitely itchy in an ill-fitting mask! We shouldn’t feel alone in this! So…cue – our first commissioned audio monologue: Hot day in a Tesco Queue, written and performed by emerging young writer and actress Melanie Hopkins, during lockdown.

We’ve been planning to delve into the world of dramatic audio productions, so when Melanie said she wanted to try her hand at a bit of comedy when discussing her Home Front ideas, the stars aligned for us to try this out. And we’re so pleased because we love this!

You can listen to the brilliant Hot Day in a Tesco Queue below – soon to be uploaded to our new podcast channel where there’ll be loads of great content from Hive’s past few years – interviews, events, stories, and poems we know you’ll love.

“I’ve had a great time writing and recording. It’s definitely opened my writing up to possibilities and with the style of comedy too!” Melanie Hopkins

Melanie is a Sheffield born and based professional actress, writer, theatre-maker and event organiser – a wearer of many creative hats! She graduated with a First Class Honours Degree from the Performance for Stage and Screen course at Sheffield Hallam University in 2019. Described as a ‘one-woman army’, Melanie single-handedly set up her own event, the Sheffield Monologue Showcase (SMS), which premiered last March.

Known for writing for the stage, her most noteworthy piece “The Sylvia Swing” was performed at the York Theatre Royal’s Take Over Festival and The Lantern Theatre’s New Writers Festival in Sheffield. Melanie continues to collaborate with local talent on various writing projects and hopes to get back to the stage as soon as possible.

Our Rotherham Poem

Hive is so immensely proud of the unveiling of: Our Rotherham, a film poem written by Vicky Morris and Rotherham Young Writers to celebrate YORKSHIRE DAY, commissioned by the Rotherham Council Events Team.

The film was made by the brilliant John Slemenek at Studio Bokehgo and a whole host of people were involved from the Rotherham community, including Rotherham Young Writers. 1st August, Yorkshire Day, was meant to be a big celebration in Rotherham, but because of the pandemic, it wasn’t possible. Although it’s not quite the same, the film, we hope, has brought people together virtually to feel proud.


We are incredibly proud to present to you ‘OUR ROTHERHAM, OUR YORKSHIRE’ – a film created with the support of our community to celebrate Yorkshire Day and our town.

Huge thanks going to Studio Bokehgo for their boundless enthusiasm, professionalism and amazing film-making talent. Thanks also to all the fantastic young writers and Vicky from Hive South Yorkshire for their wonderful and inspiring words. Thanks to Gemma from the Button Tin for creating the beautiful banner. And last, but certainly by no means least, thank you to ALL the wonderful people who agreed to take part in the film, you are all truly AWESOME!


Posted by RMBCEvents on Saturday, 1 August 2020

The poem came together through poetry workshopping and notes gathering with Rotherham Young Writers, and such were the reams everyone had to say about it, the full version of the poem (hopefully to be recorded soon!) was twice as long as what was possible for the film. We also must thank: Emma Sharpe (REMA), Jen Booth, Tair Rafiq and Karen Eynon for letting us pick their brains!

Thanks to RMBC Events team: Jane, Sarah and all for working with our vision for this poem and trusting us to do Rotherham proud!

“It’s been so lovely to see the emotional responses to the film and the pride people feel for Rotherham that’s reflected so beautifully in it. In recently years, it’s had a lot of bad press weighing it down, but it’s such an amazing town and people, with, as the poem says, so much heritage and natural beauty. Rotherham Young Writers and I are very proud to have represented it.” Vicky Morris


“It was a honour to be involved in this project. I’m very proud to be from Rotherham. And to have come up with the watter/water, do-or lines and have helped with the final edit!” Jordan Mangnall, Rotherham Young Writers/Jaded Heart


“Insightful, Inspirational and Moving a fantastic piece of work you have truly captured the spirit of this town.” SM comment

Orwell Youth Prize 2020 – congratulations!

We are delighted that Molly Hammerton-Woodhouse from Rotherham Young Writers & Naomi Thomas of Sheffield Young Writers are both senior runners-up in the ORWELL YOUTH PRIZE 2020.

The theme this year was – the future we want. The Orwell Foundation received a record number (over 1200!) of entries this year, with young writers from across the UK creatively responding to the theme through essays, poetry, prose, and reportage on topics from climate change to living in a more equitable world. Every entry was read by at least two assessors, and the final winners were chosen by the 2020 judges Kerry Hudson and Kayo Chingonyi. Congratulations to all who were placed!

On Molly’s work, judge Kayo Chingonyi said: This poem displayed an exceptionally well-managed sense of tone. You can really imagine the person speaking and the world to which they belong. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into the use of poetic form which is evidenced in the artful line breaks as well as the way the poem takes George Szirtes’s brilliant advice on poetic first lines and last lines (‘step on heavily, step off lightly’). 
On Naomi’s work, judge Kerry Hudson said: This piece contained some of the most unique and stand out prose of the entire competition. I feel like there’s a longer piece (perhaps a novel?) in the making.’

Molly said: ‘I’m incredibly honoured to have been awarded runner up in the senior category as it’s helped me prove to myself that I am a good writer and have the potential to follow my desired career path – especially when considering this is the first competition I’ve entered, and it is a national one with a record number of entries! I am very humbled by this achievement.’
Naomi said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted – this is such a wonderful encouragement for me to not be afraid to fight for what I’m passionate about through my writing.’

The Orwell Youth Prize is an annual programme for 12-18-year olds culminating in a writing prize. Rooted in Orwell’s values of integrity and fairness, the prize and the activities around it introduce young people to the power of language and provoke them to think critically and creatively about the world in which they are living.

With a focus on social justice, the themes of the Youth Prize ask young people to respond to big ideas, past themes have included: ‘Truth vs. Lies’, ‘Identity’ and ‘A Fair Society?’. We believe increasing young people’s confidence in writing, critical thinking, and interest in social justice helps to equip them for their next step, whether that be higher education, apprenticeships or work.

Congratulations to Naomi Thomas Northern Writers Award 2020

We are delighted that Naomi Thomas of Sheffield Young Writers has been Highly Commended in the Young Northern Writers Award 2020 for her short fiction. Naomi will receive ongoing support from New Writing North, including future opportunities for developing her writing.

Naomi said: “This award has encouraged me to take myself seriously as a writer. The fact that other people have enjoyed my work has made me feel much more confident in exploring what I’m passionate about in my writing, and using the styles that excite me, rather than doing what I think will ‘look good’. I’m so grateful for such an incredible opportunity to have my stories recognised, and for the time and dedication that Nik and Vicky at Hive have put into supporting me and getting me here.”


Mentor Nik Perring said: “We’re absolutely thrilled for Naomi! This is thoroughly deserved. With her ability to generate amazing and intriguing ideas and turn them into delightful and affecting stories, she has a very bright future ahead of her.”

The Northern Writers Awards Scheme is a talent development programme recognising unpublished, work-in-progress by new and established writers from across the North of England. The scheme worth around £40,00 and now in its 21st year, is run by New Writing North with funding from Arts Council England and support from Northumbria University.

Congratulations to all Northern Writer Award winners 2020!

Naomi Thomas is a 17-year-old writer and committed member of Sheffield Young Writers. She won two Sheffield-based short story competitions in 2014 and 2016. In 2019 she was highly commended in the Forward Arts Foundation/EMC e-magazine Creative Critics Competition and Hive Young Writers competition. Hannah’s story Breakfast was published in Hive anthology Surfing the Twilight and she has work forthcoming in Sheffield Hallam University’s Matter journal.  She is a new recruit of the Writing Squad.

More about the Northern Writers Award
The Northern Writers’ Awards is an innovative and progressive talent development programme, which supports writers to achieve their creative ambitions at all stages of their careers. This year the awards attracted over 1,200 entries. The awards recognise unpublished work-in-progress by new and established writers in the North of England.
The Northern Writers’ Awards are produced by New Writing North with funding from Arts Council England and support from Northumbria University, Channel 4 and North East Chamber of Commerce.

New Writing North is the reading and writing development agency for the north of England, and is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. It works in partnership with regional and national partners to produce a range of literary and performance activities including flagship projects such as the Northern Writers’ Awards, Read Regional, Cuckoo Young Writers, the Gordon Burn Prize, the David Cohen Prize for Literature and Durham Book Festival.

About Northumbria University
Northumbria University, Newcastle is a research-rich, business-focused, professional university with a global reputation for academic excellence. Complementing its work with New Writing North and Channel 4, the University works with a range of high profile cultural partners, including BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Live Theatre, Great North Run Culture and Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums providing students with industry exposure and live project opportunities.  We were awarded the Times Higher Education Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts in 2012, as well as the Journal’s Culture Award for Best Arts and Business Partnership in 2013. Northumbria University’s Art and Design courses were ranked Top 10 in the UK for Research Power following the Research Excellence Framework 2014 and the University was ranked Top 50 in the UK – its highest ever league table position – in the Guardian University League Table 2017.

100 Days of Lockdown: A Disabled Writer’s Experience