I believe that spoken word (in any form), poetry and creativity are essential tools for nurturing mental health, garnering self-confidence and boosting self-esteem. Undoubtedly, everyone has a story to tell and it is important to me that I help create safe, encouraging spaces to help others find their voices. My recent post with Paisley Book Festival was firmly rooted in community outreach, seeing me work with local groups to establish creative, social spaces and encourage conversation. I am used to managing large-scale projects with organisations and funders while still being led by the individual requirements of the participants involved.
I am extremely experienced as a workshop leader and have facilitated in a variety of social and community contexts: with young people, adults, novice and established writers, with the elderly, with people with a range of different learning needs and abilities, with children and adult refugees and asylum seekers, in schools, in libraries, with young carers, in universities and colleges, with people from a range of creative disciplines, with mother groups, with children with behavioural needs, aspiring spoken word poets, with the Edinburgh Fringe, with Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, with festivals and as part of a mindfulness retreat. Since the start of the pandemic, I have provided extensive digital educational content. My role with Paisley Book Festival comprised entirely digital-led workshops, so I am very comfortable working online as well as in-person.
Some key examples of workshops and classes led are listed below:
- Writer-in-Residence with Paisley Book Festival 2021:
Community outreach in the form of creative workshops was central to my residency. I led 15 online workshops with a variety of groups, with their work culminating in a poetic manifesto, a live festival event and the creation of a collective group poem written by a group of non-writers. The success of the workshops has seen me offered the role of Art Lead with CREATE youth group, leading a 20-week creative writing programme to help their young people achieve their Arts Award. I have also been commissioned by Wigtown Book Festival to deliver wellbeing-focused creative workshops as part of their young writers’ festival programme.
- Soul Food Poetry/More Than Words:
Covid-19 notwithstanding, I host two monthly poetry events (at Soul Food Kitchen and Flying Duck respectively) which intend to create warm, welcoming, safe spaces for new writers and performers. Soul Food Poetry has run since March 2019, More Than Words began in February 2020.
- Residency with Kear Campus (via Live Literature):
I led a series of creative writing and spoken word workshops at Kear Campus, a school for secondary aged children with social, emotional and behavioural needs. Following the success of the first residency, I have been invited back to curate a digital programme at the end of this year.
- Poetry in Turbulent Times:
Held via Zoom, this six-part weekly workshop series was aimed at novice writers and was intended to introduce poetry and spoken word techniques as a means to help participants deal with the ongoing anxieties of the pandemic during lockdown. Together, we wrote a collective poem entitled ‘This Is Lockdown’ which was published by The Scotsman.
- Future Paisley’s Art Boss project:
I was commissioned to produce a video on ‘How to be a spoken word poet’ for Future Paisley’s Art Boss project.
- ‘How to be a Solo Theatre-Maker’ at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts:
Following the success of #Hypocrisy, I was invited to present to graduating students at Mountview on the realities of working as a solo theatre-maker.
- Digital webinars/masterclasses:
Throughout lockdown, I performed numerous livestreamed gigs, led online spoken word webinars and held one-off workshops. The webinars and workshops involved groups ranging from 2 to 100 participants.
- Mentoring sessions:
I run one-off and block mentoring spoken word and creative writing sessions with writers and performers exploring areas including: performance techniques and confidence building; productivity; poetry techniques; assistance with long-term projects; poetry feedback; publication; re-drafting and editing.