Festival writers & who’s who

“These events gather together a multitude of people significant to young writers and give a time frame in which they can interact meaningfully with each other, be that through teaching, socialising, or the opportunity to simply listen to other young writers. These things are sadly limited to these events, but I suppose that’s what makes it so great!”

Young writers feedback (2014 festival)

There’ll be a huge range of writers and writing and creative bodies at the festival. Some will be leading workshops, others giving talks, or providing one to one advice. We’re updating this list all the time so please pop back!

Hive Young Writers Festival sat 14th April
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Writers at the Festival
Professional & creative bodies
Young writer collectives


Testament is a Hip-Hop MC, poet, theatre maker and world record breaking human beatboxer. As a lyricist his critically acclaimed work has strands of rap, song and spoken word and includes the album Homecut: No Freedom without Sacrifice, as well as several spoken word performances for BBC Radio (1xtra, Radio 4 and 6Music).

Testament is currently touring his new one man show about rap music, feminism and fatherhood entitled WOKE. He also penned Black Men Walking, a new play touring nationally in 2018, produced by the award-winning Eclipse Theatre and Royal Exchange Manchester. Testament has worked with everyone from Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Grammy winner Corinne Bailey Rae, to the originator of Hip-Hop himself DJ Kool Herc. He also won the BBC Urban Music Talent Award in 2007. www.testamenthomecut.com

Suzannah Evans – Poet
Suzannah Evans lives in Sheffield and her pamphlet Confusion Species was a winner in the 2012 Poetry Business book & pamphlet competition, judged by Carol Ann Duffy. She’s had poems published in The Rialto, The North, Magma and Poetry Review and her poem Helpline has been Poem of the Week on the Guardian website. She has been a Hawthornden Fellow and was one of the 2015 Aldeburgh Eight. A first full collection of poetry is due to be published in late 2018.

Suzannah works as a teacher of creative writing and a poetry editor. She freelances for The Poetry Business and won a Northern Writers’ Award in 2013. As a teenager Suzannah had an obsessive fear of the apocalypse which has informed and inspired many of her poems, and she still doesn’t know whether it’s best to plan responsibly for the future or party like it’s 1999. www.suzannahevans.wordpress.com

Helen Johnson – Journalist
Helen has many years of experience is a freelance journalist writing mainly features and arts reviews. She started her career as a reporter on a weekly paper in Lincolnshire, moving on to daily papers, including the Sheffield Star. She has also freelanced for national papers and magazines, and has worked in Public Relations.

Helen has also been a journalism lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University for the past 6 years, teaching both undergraduate and postgraduate students. She used to teach on the NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) course at Sheffield College.

Reece Williams – writer, facilitator & creative project manager
Reece’s main areas of artistic interest are literature (live and print) and theatre. He has extensive experience as a writer, performer, project manager and administrator. Reece facilitates for Manchester based young poets collective, Young Identity, having joined as a younger writer himself in 2007. He’s worked with, and opening for, the likes of Saul Williams, Kate Tempest, The Last Poets and the late Amiri Baraka. Since graduating, Reece has continued to work as a creative professional and utilizes these skills in his management roles.

Dan Powell – short story/short fiction writer
Dan Powell’s prize-winning short fiction has appeared in the pages of Being Dad, The Lonely Voice, Unthology, The London Magazine and Best British Short Stories. He has won various awards and prizes including the Carve Esoteric Award (2013), and the Yeovil Literary Prize for short fiction, with his story ‘Half-mown Lawn’ published in The Best British Short Stories 2012. He won 2nd prize in the Bath Short Story Award 2015 and 3rd Prize in The London Magazine short story prize 2017. His debut collection, Looking Out of Broken Windows (Salt 2014), was shortlisted for the 2013 Scott Prize and long listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and the Edge Hill Prize.

He is currently working on a second story collection and a debut novel, is a First Story writer-in-residence, and a M3C Doctoral Researcher in Creative Writing at University of Leicester. He procrastinates at danpowellfiction.com and on Twitter as @danpowfiction.

Dan Loops (Formerly Pro-VERB) – writer, rap artist, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and film maker
Dan Loops is a Sheffield-born writer, acoustic rap artist, poet, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and videographer. He released his debut album ‘An Album’ (available to download on iTunes all good online retail stores) to a sell out audience in 2016, combining witty rap lyrics with beautiful guitar arrangements, beatboxing and vocal loops.

Between 2011 -2014 Dan played anywhere and everywhere, honing his craft. He supported Kate Tempest at the Lyric Festival Sheffield in 2012 and the played the 02 Arena in 2011. Dan is a regular at festivals far and wide including YNOT Festival and Sheffield’s Tramlines. He has recently turned his talents to narrative film making, penning a feature length film in 2016 and since 2017 he’s been writing plays, making music videos and short films, and working on a follow up album soundcloud.com/danloopsmusic

Andy Craven-Griffiths – poet, singer & rapper
As a poet Andy has performed most extensively live on stage (Glastonbury, Latitude, BAC) but has also had work broadcast (Radio 1, Radio 4, BBC 2), and printed in journals such as Magma, Ambit. He works in schools and with clients include Arts Council England, British Council, Rethink Mental Health, First Story, & The Letterbox Club. He has a chapter in “Making Poetry Happen” (Bloomsbury, 2015). www.andypoetry.com

Currently, Andy is one of Radio 3’s Verb New Voices. He’s Lead Writer on various children’s writing projects, & for Curve Theatre’s WritersLab, & is part of the Midnight Run team (themnr.com), and he’s working part time on a PhD in Creative Writing. Andy is also lead singer/rapper with his band ‘Middleman’. The band have toured everywhere from Reading Festival to SXSW, Texas, and played sessions for Radio 1, 6 Music and XFM.

Kate Garrett – poet, editor & publisher
Kate Garrett is the managing editor of Three Drops from a Cauldron, Picaroon Poetry, and Lonesome October Lit, and her own writing is widely published online and in print. She is the author of several pamphlets, most recently ‘You’ve never seen a doomsday like it’ (Indigo Dreams, 2017), and ‘Losing interest in the sound of petrichor’ (The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2018). Kate has performed her poetry at home in Sheffield and around the UK, including London, Oxford, York, Middlesbrough, and North Wales. She grew up in rural southern Ohio, but moved across the Atlantic in 1999, where she is happily settled with her husband, five children, and a sleepy cat.​ www.kategarrettwrites.co.uk

Clare Fisher – Novelist & short story writer
Clare is a novelist, short story writer and creative writing teacher and editorial consultant.  Her debut novel All the Good Things ALL THE GOOD THINGS was published by Viking, Penguin UK in 2017, and her collection of very short fiction How the Light Gets in will be published by Influx Press in June 2018.

Clare’s short fiction has been published widely in print and online. She won second place in the 2015 Ilkley Literature Festival short story competition, and won the 2013 London Short Story Prize and Cinnamon Press writing award. Born in 1987 in south London, Clare now lives in Leeds, where she works as a freelance editorial consultant and teacher of creative writing. www.clarefisherwriter.com

Desiree Reynolds – Novelist, editor, broadcast, journalist & DJ
Desiree Reynolds is a writer, broadcaster, facilitator, DJ, journalist and mentor. Her short stories have been published in various publications, including A Generation Defining Itself, Hair: A Journey into the Afro and Asian Experience,  Moss Side StoriesThe Suitcase Book of Love Poems  and Tangled Roots, Closure, the first anthology of Black British fiction for 15 years, and Write Like A Grrrl.

A passionate advocate for equality, Désirée’s work covers race, gender and todays political climate. She believes that writing is not only a form of resistance but also it can be a tool for real change. Desiree is inspired by internal landscapes and collective memory. Seduce is her first novel (Peepal Tree Press). She is currently working on a collection of short stories, and a novel about the collapse of the plantation system in the Caribbean.

Desiree was brought up in Clapham, London to Jamaican parents. She started her writing career as a freelance journalist for the Jamaica Gleaner and the Village Voice. She has gone on to write film scripts, poetry and short stories. She continues to work as a journalist, writing book and film reviews. www.desireereynolds.co.uk

Nik Perring – short fiction writer, editor & teacher
Nik Perring is a short story writer and the author of five books (including Not So Perfect, and Freaks!). His work has appeared in many fine places all over the world including Smokelong, Word Riot, 3 :AM Magazine, and The Fiction Desk. It’s also been read on the radio, performed on the stage, printed on fliers and appeared, with Dave Eggars’, on a High School Distance Learning course in the US. Most recently his re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood, Carmine’s Fruit, won the Artificum Short Story Prize.

Nik is also an editor and a teacher of writing, working with both and adults and children, in primary schools, high schools, colleges, universities and the BBC. He’s a key facilitator for Hive South Yorkshire and currently writer in residence for First Story. www.nikperring.com

Vicky Morris – Poet, writer, editor and facilitator & mentor of young writers
Vicky writes poetry & short stories. For 20 years she has worked as a freelance creative practitioner and educator on numerous short and long-term projects with people of all ages, backgrounds & abilities. A passion, and much of the focus of her work, is supporting the artistic, personal and professional development of young people. Vicky facilitates across creative writing, filmmaking, journalism, & visual art. She has devised, managed and delivered numerous creative projects and undertaken commissions as an artist and designer, a filmmaker and in more recent years, a writer. Vicky won a Northern Writers Award in 2014 for fiction and was shortlisted for the Jerwood/Arvon Scheme for poetry in 2016/17.

For the past 12 years, Vicky’s focus has been the development of young writers’ provision in South Yorkshire. In 2016 she set up Hive South Yorkshire, a consortium writing project for young writers in the region. www.vickymorris.co.uk

Tim Leach – historical fiction novelist
Tim Leach is a writer of historical fiction. His first novel The Last King of Lydia was published by Atlantic Books in 2013 and shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, and a sequel, The King and the Slave, was published in 2014. He says he fell into historical fiction by accident, and would be happy to tell you how.

Tim is a graduate of the Warwick University Writing Programme, where he now teaches fiction on the undergraduate course. His latest book, Smile of the Wolf, will be published by Head of Zeus in summer 2018. www.tim-leach.co.uk

Dominic Heslop (aka the Devoted One) spoken word artist & rapper

Dominic Heslop (aka the Devoted One), is a young spoken word artist and rapper from Sheffield. In 2017, he founded Slam Barz, a supportive citywide event for young emerging urban lyricists and rappers (aged 14 to 21), offering a platform to come and show their skills through an open mic or by competing in a SLAM BARz challenge. Dom is passionate about changing the lives of boys and young men in our communities and finding ways to empower them through creativity. Find him @The1Devoted 

Kirsten Luckins – Poet performer, theatre-maker and produced for Apples & Snakes in the North
Kirsten is a poet living in the north-east. She performs her work and has also been published on paper, in magazines and books. She has made two spoken-word-poetry-theatre-shows so far. Her first show came second in the Saboteur Awards 2014 (Best Solo Show Category). Kirsten is also producer in the north for leading performance poetry and the spoken word organisation, Apples & Snakes. www.kirstenluckins.wordpress.com

Kiran Malhi-Bearn – Poet & member of the Verse Matters Collective
Kiran Malhi-Bearn is a Sheffield-based poet based and is part of Verse Matters, the feminist spoken word collective who put on bi-monthly nights in Theatre Deli. Kiran is a community organiser and activist and writes about race, feminism, mental health, and anything really because for her ‘the personal is political.’

Bobby Anderson – Improv artist & teacher
Bobby Anderson has been performing improv for nearly 10 years and teaching for 5. Starting off with Sheffield University’s “The Shrimps” he now runs Stürike Improv and the Sheffield Improv Jam with his comedic partner Alex Keen. He specialises in emotional, character driven improv with a focus on telling stories. sheffieldimprovjam | Sturike Improv

Michéle Beck – Poet & community arts organiser
Michéle Beck grew up and lives in Doncaster. She runs a community creative writing group at a wellness centre, is working toward her debut poetry pamphlet, and had non-fiction published by Open Democracy and Doncopolitan. She also has an active role at the Ted Hughes Poetry Festival in Mexborough.

Billie Meredith – actor, poet & musician
Billie Meredith, has been writing and performing for 7 years as an actor, poet and musician. A member of the poetry collective Young Identity, she has performed both music and poetry for Manchester Literature Festival, FIND: Schaubühne in Berlin, BBC, Not Another Festival and published whilst representing Manchester in the national Shake The Dust slam, Southbank, London.

Having just finished sold out show ‘Imprint’ at Push Festival: HOME alongside fellow established Young Identity poets, Billie is now in the process of lending her poetry to playwriting, with fellow writers of colour alongside the Royal Exchange Theatre, continuing to use her work to document personal growth, people watching, mental health and the human condition.

Stacey Sampson – actor, writer and facilitator
Stacey Sampson is an actor, writer and facilitator born and bred in Rotherham. She has worked in theatre, film and television for twenty years, and is known for her role as Jennifer in Channel 4’s This Is England series (’88 and ’90). Stacey is an Associate Artist with Third Angel and several other companies and her plays have toured nationally to theatres and non-traditional spaces. She also specialises in collaborative writing and regularly works with schools, libraries, young offender programmes, mental health and homelessness organisations to create bespoke scripts and performances. Her children’s fiction has won the Mslexia Novel Competition, a Northern Writers’ Award and the Arvon Award.

Dan Ryder – poet & editor
Dan Ryder is a poet and editor from Doncaster. His poems are found in various Australian and British literary journals. In 2015, he lived in Melbourne for a year and was on the Voiceworks (is a national quarterly literary magazine) editorial committee as a poetry editor. Voiceworks publishes new writing and art by Australians under the age of 25.

Now living back in Doncaster, he is social media manager for local arts & culture magazine Doncopolitan. In 2017 he curated his first exhibition These poets, our kin / These poems, our stories at the Frenchgate Centre. He also freelances for the Ted Hughes Poetry Festival. www.danryderpoet.com

Adam Lowe – poet, writer, publisher and creative producer
Adam Lowe is a writer, performer and publisher from Leeds. He runs Dog Horn Publishing and Vada Magazine. He also founded Young Enigma, a not-for-profit organisation that supports young writers and performers in the North West and nationally.

Other writers added shortly
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The Writing Squad
Is a north of England professional development programme for young writers (16-21) providing workshops, one to one support and professional investment. The Squad opens it applications every 2 years. Following a two year programme working with around 30 young writers, we continue to offer our grads support and projects to take part in.

While we started off as a writer development programme, we now see ourselves as much more of a community of artists. We are still in contact one way or another with most of the 140 writers we have worked with over the years. www.writingsquad.com

Grimm & Co – Children’s literary charity based in Rotherham
Grimm & co aims to change lives one story at a time. We support under-resourced children and young people aged 7 to 18 with their confidence and skills around creativity and writing. We introduce children and young people to discover creativity and imagination through artists, one-to-one mentoring and exciting projects which spark motivation to write. Grimm & Co’s ‘Apothecary to the Magical’ is a story destination for all ages in Rotherham town centre. From the moment you enter, you are transported into a world of wonder and enchantment.

Little do you know there’s a secret door, hidden within the shelves, that takes you on a further journey of awe and wonder, starting with the imagination gym for dusting off old apathy and unleashing hidden creativity. Once the imagination is sparked one can climb the giant’s bookcase through the corridor of glory, past Graham and Grizelda’s office, glimpsing at the Writers’ Closet, through to the glorious Writers’ Pad. www.grimmandco.co.uk

Verse Matters Collective
Verse Matters is a feminist arts collective in Sheffield open to all. We run bi-monthly events at the Theatre Deli. Verse Matters provides a platform for poetry, spoken word, storytelling, puppetry, music and comedy in a friendly and supportive environment. Events are open to all and we prioritise seldom heard stories and give space to those who might not see themselves represented elsewhere. For more info about the monthly line-up, or to get a slot yourself, see the Verse Matters website: https://versematters.wordpress.com/events/

Apples & Snakes
Apples & Snakes is the leading performance poetry and the spoken word in England. We work to amplify unheard voices. We positively encourage artists and producers to push the boundaries of what poetry and spoken word can be. Apples and Snakes was started by a group of poets in 1982 in a room above a pub. Over our 35 year history we’ve worked with Billy Bragg, Jackie Kay, Lemn Sissay, Malika Booker, Charlie Dark, Polarbear, Kate Tempest, Benjamin Zephaniah, Michael Rosen and Caleb Femi, to name just a few.

Our Artist Development programmes include women’s poetry collectives in the North East, Writing Room for young writers in London and Book a Poet which sends poets to schools, galleries and festivals all over the country. www. applesandsnakes.org.

First Story
First Story nurture the development of young people’s creative writing through schools, particularly in areas of deprivation and disadvantage, by giving young people the chance to work with some of the UK’s most prestigious writers, from award-winning novelists to celebrated short story authors and performance poets.

They also provide training and skills development opportunities for writers, teachers, librarians and literacy professionals. And they act as a bridging point between young people and the wider literary community through literary festivals, university events and other collaborations

Charly Calpin & Free Hand
Charly is an artist and project coordinator for Rainbow Heron Café. Also is also the creator of Free Hand – a space to be creative, for people living with depression and anxiety, and the owner of a long and varied list of art related qualifications, including a OCN– In Additional Visual Studies Level 1 & 2, whatever that is! Charly started Free Hand after doing her masters and the creative process helping her to feel positive, build her confidence, express herself and improve her mental health. She then realised that it was that what she wanted to provide for other people.

Jamie McGarry from Valley Press
Jamie McGarry founded Valley Press as an English Literature student in 2008, and has spent the last decade growing it into one of Yorkshire’s leading publishing houses. With a broad list including poetry, fiction and non-fiction, and over a hundred titles in print, VP was awarded ‘Arts/Culture Business of the Year’ in 2017, with Jamie himself ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ (in the Yorkshire coast region, Whitby to Hull). Besides his work with VP, Jamie is known for his ‘how to’ publishing articles (found on medium.com/@jamiemcgarry) and as co-host of ‘The Friday Morning Meeting’, a podcast for business-minded small publishers (with Emma Wright).

Write Radio
Write Radio is Sheffield Live Radio’s two hour radio covering all things writing. It showcases new and local writing from the people of South Yorkshire. Airing every Friday from 1-3PM on Sheffield Live 93.2FM, we welcome submissions from all writers, beginners to experts, first timers to professionals, comedy, short stories, poems, novels, plays and more. If you have a story in you and you want to share it – get in touch! https://web.sheffieldlive.org/shows/write-radio/
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The Poetry Business
The Poetry Business, founded in 1986, is a poetry publisher and writer development agency. We publish books, pamphlets, audio and eBooks under the smith|doorstop imprint; edit a literary magazine, The North; and run Writing Days, masterclasses, residential courses, and a Writing School for published poets. We also run the annual Book & Pamphlet Competition.

Our poets have won or been shortlisted for almost every major poetry prize, including the Forward Prize on 11 occasions and 10 Poetry Book Society awards, and smith|doorstop Books was awarded the 2012 Michael Marks Award. Andrew Motion described The Poetry Business as “one of the most vital and vitalising literary organisations in the country”. www.poetrybusiness.co.uk

Valley Press
Established in 2008, Valley Press is a thriving independent publishing house based in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. With authors from all corners of the UK, as well as North America, India, Bermuda, South Africa and China, we are bringing the world to Yorkshire and Yorkshire to the world.

We have more than 100 titles currently in print, including poetry (collections, pamphlets and anthologies), fiction (novels and short stories) and non-fiction (travel writing and memoirs). 2018 finds us expanding our scope further, with volumes of musical history and graphic novels among the frontlist titles. Our most important belief is that great literature, and great publishing, is for everyone and anyone – if you agree, we’d love to hear from you at valleypressuk.com, or @valleypress.

Longbarrow Press
Longbarrow Press publishes poetry from writers such as Matthew Clegg, Kelvin Corcoran, Angelina D’Roza, Mark Goodwin, Lee Harwood, Rob Hindle, Andrew Hirst, & Chris Jones. Titles range across various formats, including pamphlets, boxes and CDs; many are designed and produced by hand, some in limited editions.

The press was founded by Andrew Hirst and Brian Lewis in 2005, and was launched in Sheffield in April 2006. The ethos governing the output of the press is that the poem should dictate the format of publication. The resulting objects – matchboxes, acetates, maps – allow poet and publisher to explore alternatives to the book without resorting to gimmickry. longbarrowpress.com
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Hive South Yorkshire young writers groups
Hive runs regular fortnightly young writers groups in Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham. Find out more here: http://www.hivesouthyorkshire.com/young-writers-groups

Young Identity
Young Identity is a writing collective formed in Manchester in 2006 by Shirley May and Ali Gadema after they put together a team for Apples and Snakes’ WORDCUP youth poetry slam. Since then, YI have performed all over the UK, from the Southbank in London to the West Yorkshire Playhouse, and even in America’s Nuyorican Poetry Café. They have recently begun a development project for promising young writers called ‘HATCH’; their latest show in January enjoyed a sold out, five-star run at HOME Theatre in Manchester.

Young Identity run drop-in workshops for young writers (25 and under) three times a week across Greater Manchester at: Longsight Library, HOMEmcr in Deansgate, and Powerhouse library in Moss Side. youngidentity.org

Ilkley & Bradford Young Writers
Ilkley Literature Festival runs weekly groups in Ilkley, and Bradford for young writers (13 to 17). The groups are run by led by Michelle Scalley Clarke, author, playwright, performer, creative writing and performance facilitator and Becky Cherriman writer, performer and creative writing facilitator.

As well as meeting weekly, the Ilkley Young Writers also host their own Open Mic nights to perform and share their work and regularly appear at Ilkley Literature Festival. They’ve taken part in the Leeds poetry slam at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, been on a residential with the Brontë Parsonage, had their work published, appeared on BBC Radio 4 and East Leeds FM;  reviewed events and interviewed authors, including the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, and members of the group have been picked for the Writing Squad, been commended in the Foyle Young Poets competition and won the Young Historical Novelists Award. http://www.ilkleyliteraturefestival.org.uk/whats-on/young-writers

We hope to also have members of Leeds Young Authors, Cuckoo Young Writers (New Writing North) and Dove Cottage Young Poets. If you’re a group in the north that we don’t know about, please get in touch. We’d love you to join us! We are keeping ticket costs very cheap £7 (inc. lunch!), but if train travel is costly, get in touch!
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