UEA lays down creative gauntlet for youngsters in virtual literature festival

Young creative writers at last years FLY festival. This year's even is taking place virtually Pictur

Young creative writers at last years FLY festival. This year's even is taking place virtually Picture: UEA - Credit: UEA

Children are being challenged to keep their creative juices flowing through coronavirus lockdown by chronicling their experiences of this unprecedented time.

The University of East Anglia is hosting its annual Festival of Literature of Young People (FLY) virtually this year, amid cancellations of events as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

And as part of the digital, organisers are challenging young writers aged between 11 and 16 to take part in weekly creative activities reflecting on the experiences of the country in lockdown.

These challenges, which will be set through the FLY website, will each have unique formats to test the aspiring authors’ creative skills - from condensing novel into a tweet to three line poems.

Alexander Gordon Smith, children’s fiction writer and FLY patron said: “These are strange and scary times for us all, but in strange and scary times we tend to turn to stories. I’m taking this time to write some stories of my own, because I know that these stories will teach me that we have what it takes to get through this.

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“The lockdown challenges will extend that opportunity for young people to get involved. Writing can be a solitary job, but stories are what bring us together, and I am enjoying finding new ways to share stories with people during lockdown.

“We need stories more than ever, so no matter what stage you’re at in your writing journey, keep writing, and keep sharing,”

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Once the virtual festival, which launches on Monday, is complete, a selection of the finest works submitted will be distributed in an anthology.

The festival will also provide opportunities for children to win book tokens, feature on the FLY website and interact with big names of children’s literature.

Sophie Scott-Brown, academic director of FLY, said: “While we are very sad not to be host our regular festival event, we want to keep its spirit alive. Never have active imaginations been more important,

“We hope that FLY: The Lockdown Diaries, and all the other FLY projects to come later in the year, will not only inspire young people to enjoy writing for themselves, but also connect them, and their families, with our wonderful community of writers here at UEA.”

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