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From Monday 29 October to Saturday 3 November, sixteen volunteers from libraries all over the country, embarked on a trip to the Arvon Lumb Bank Centre, Yorkshire, for a week that would change their writer lives. Abigail, one of the volunteers, tells us more.
Our two mentors for the week were Yemisi Blake, Creative Mentor for young people's projects at the Southbank Centre; and Caroline Bird, an award winning poet who has had three collections of poetry published. Whilst most of the group were avid readers, the emphasis on actually reading pieces aloud was a whole new experience. On the first evening, Yemisi and Caroline gave us a taste of their writing by performing several of their own pieces - having never attended a reading before, it was fantastic to hear the poetry brought to life by the authors themselves.
Reading isn't just all about words though as we learnt on Wednesday night, just in time for Halloween, when Hannah Berry, a graphic novelist who has recently published a modern horror, Adamtine, paid us a fascinating visit.
Throughout the week, Yemisi and Caroline led a morning workshop every morning that helped us explore our techniques and ideas as writers. Possibly the most liberating exercise was 'free writing', where we wrote continuously for a few minutes - gaining such an insight into different methods of creating and developing ideas gave me an invigorated approach to writing which I have used since. As we sat around the huge oak dining table, composing and creating, there was such a comfortable atmosphere that included and supported us all. This non-judgemental environment continued even as we were encouraged to read our own pieces aloud. Though at first, most of us were reluctant out of self-depreciation and some even shied away from the task altogether, by the final performance on Friday we were all able to recite and perform our poems, instilled with a new-found confidence.
However, our Arvon week wouldn't have been complete without the element of reading and appreciating works of other authors. The Lumb Bank Centre itself was home to Ted Hughes, British Poet Laureate from 1984-1998 and we could even sit at his writing desk! We were also encouraged to peruse the expansive library especially for 'Covers' evening on Thursday where we performed pieces by other authors that we had enjoyed reading.
It's quite easy to say, on behalf of all the other volunteers who came, that this week was one we wouldn't forget. As a vast majority of us were students, the opportunity to spend a week away from the pressures of school was invaluable. What's more, we got to spend that time at the beautiful Lumb Bank Centre in the Yorkshire woodland, surrounded by passionate, inspiring people, now friends, doing what we love doing best - writing.
Read pieces of creative writing from other volunteers who attended the course on our social reporters page.
If you're aged 11-19 years and you'd like to write a piece for our website get in touch with Robert Sommerlad on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in building your CV through volunteering or like the idea of meeting new friends whilst helping out at your local library? Find out more about our young people's programmes and what you can do for yourself and for your local community.