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Commission: Herstory Festival

I worked with a group of college students to create a brand new piece of work for Poet in the City's Herstory Festival at City Library in Newcastle

Just before Christmas, the brilliant organisation Poet in the City asked for proposals for writers and artists to make work for Herstory Festival, an event that explores the unfinished fight for women’s rights in the UK. This was a paid opportunity to contribute to the super valuable discussion of what it means to be a woman and to thrive as a woman in 2022.

The idea

I knew straight away that I wanted to involve young people in my proposal, and came up with the idea to work with a group of students to design and print a Lonely Planet style guidebook to a brand new, fictional city that was a totally inclusive space for women and marginalised groups. In just one day off-timetable (which was very ambitious of me), the group would decide what their city would be like - everything from its name to its governance, public services and arts / cultural opportunities - before writing and designing a magazine all about it. After the day, I would finish typing up and designing, and have it printed for them.

The Poet in the City team really loved the idea and so I set a date in early March to work with 12 students from Excelsior College.

On the day

The students were absolutely brilliant and full of unique ideas to make the towns and cities we live in safer, cleaner and more sustainable. They named their new utopia 'Ferocity' as a reflection of the totally badass group of people they were!

After a morning of intense brainstorming fuelled by lots of snacks, they started to type up elements of the guidebook in the afternoon and a few keen designers started putting together a draft of how they'd like the magazine to look. Over the next week or so following our time together, I typed up anything they didn't have time to, polished their design and ordered 250 copies. About half of these were distributed at the Herstory Festival and half were given out around college. The group also received two copies to take home with them as well as a £20 Waterstone's voucher each for taking part.

Where can I read?

You can read a digital copy of the group's magazine all about Ferocity by clicking here - there are also a number of physical copies still available, so if you are thinking of running a similar project with your own group or you would like a copy for your school library, youth group, etc, please drop me a message and I'd be happy to post you one for free.

I'd really love to run another day like this for a second group of young people so do let me know if you'd like to hear more!

A big thank you to the Poet in the City team as well as Kate Perry, Gareth Smith and the young people from Excelsior College who were so much fun to work with.


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