Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published April 24th 2014
Inspiring Young Readers to Become Writers
Mitcham Library, London Road
As an active member and volunteer at the South Mitcham Community Centre, the manager was kind enough to send me a newsletter that she though might interest me. It was about a Young Creatives group at Mitcham Library that meet up on Tuesday afternoons.
The library is on London Road, but because it is not the I usually go to (if I do go at all), I wasn't sure which part of the road it was on. I ended up going to far down, and had to back track; consequently I was in a bit of a rush, but I needn't have worried. I had got the time wrong, and was in fact half an hour early. With time to spare, and books everywhere at my disposal, I decided to have a browse.
Mitcham Library was built in 1933, on land donated by Joseph Owen, Esquire, a local builder, who gave £4,025 to fund construction.
The Library is like a maze of short bookcases that snake round from one side of the room to the other. They're just the right height to offer privacy for people working at desks and computers, but low enough to peer over on tip toes. They are the equivalent of garden hedges for nosy neighbours.
The teen section, or 'Youth Space', as it is called, is at the opposite end of the room to the children's section. I think this is a good idea on two levels. Firstly, it allows teenagers to be able to study without disturbance, but at the same time, makes them feel more like an 'adult', being sectioned with the more grown-up audience.
As well as paperbacks and hardbacks, the library offers audiobooks, newspapers, magazines, and rentable DVDs. It also has photocopying, scanning, faxing, and printing facilities.
There are lots of computers with free internet access, which you can use as long as you are a member of a Merton Library (any branch will do), and can remember your Member ID (best to bring your card).
There are lots of activities to take part in at Mitcham Library, from education, health, and entertainment. When you first walk in, you will see a large room to the right that is specifically designated for Kumon. Kumon is a maths and English study programme for children, and the centre is open Mondays & Thursdays between 3.45pm - 6.15pm.
On the left hand side you will see a board full of job opportunities. These are available to apply for if you join the library's Job Club, which is on Thursdays between 10am - 2pm.
There are also other free weekly activities:
Falun Dafa Meditation: 10.30am - 12pm
French Class: 11am - 12pm
IT Support: 9.30am - 12.30pm
IT Support: 9.45am - 2pm
Story Time for under 5s: 10.30am - 11am
Children's Crafts: 11am-11.30am
IT Support: 10am - 12pm & 2pm - 4pm
IT Support: 10am - 12pm
CV Surgery & Careers Advice: 10am-3pm
Conversational English Class: 5pm-6pm
English Class (term time): 10am - 11am & 11.30am - 12.30pm
IT Support: 9.30am - 12.30pm
Spanish Class: 1pm - 2pm
Italian Class: 3pm - 4pm
Young Creatives read out their work.
The Young Creatives is a club that is currently running from April till June, and it is a project for young people between 11 - 24 years old (just made it), in which we will all workshop two short stories that will be published as an anthology in the summer. The book will be available as a paperback in all Merton libraries, as well as the Waterstones bookstore in Wimbledon. There will also be an e-book on Amazon.
I found out about the project just in time, because the Tuesday I went was the last day to submit first drafts. Most of the Young Creatives were at the lower end of the age bracket, so the workshops are a lot about learning writing techniques, editing, and using computer programmes. Natalie, the playwright/author taking the class said that because of my experience, I was probably just as qualified to teach the group as she was. She said I could come to help out, and tell them about my own experiences of publishing a book.
The workshop starts at 4.30pm, and runs till 6pm, and during that time they will either be working on their stories, or networking on the computers.
World Book Night
I gave Natalie my stories to read, and before I left, she told me about World Book Night. The annual event is celebrated at the library with readings, signings, discussion panels, and pizza. Natalie invited me to come along the next evening, and read my poetry.
At first I said I had a yoga class (which I did), so couldn't come, but it was really an excuse because I was nervous. After some thought, however, I thought that it was a good opportunity to get my work shown, and that I would kick myself later if I didn't do it. So I skipped yoga, and went.
Although World Book Night is about all sorts of books, Mitcham Library was focussing on young adult fiction. Several authors had donated their books to the library, many of which were part of a raffle. The evening began with a reading of poetry by Justin Rollins. Rollin was mean to be there, but could not make it, so they were read out on his behalf. In his youth, Rollins was a gang member, and spent a lot of time in young offenders centres, and also spent three years in an adult prison. He spent that time reflecting on his life, and the mistakes he'd made, and ended up writing over five hundred poems in prison. These were published in a book called Street Crhymes. They were stark, bold, truthful, and flowed with such speed and dexterity that it was almost rap.
My books amongst the other authors.
After these were read out, it was my turn to stand up. I was not as nervous as I thought I would be, partly because it was a fairly small group, mostly comprising children, teenagers, and their parents. It was a very relaxed atmosphere too. Everything went really well, and they all liked what I had written. I even got an enormous laugh from one of my lines, which boosted my confidence.
Squash & Biscuits
After a few minutes break of biscuits and squash, we regathered for a panel discussion, in which we talked about our favourite books, characters, and how film adaptations are rarely as good as the novel. This was followed by a reading from The Rock 'n' Roll Diaries by Jamie Scallion. It is a hilarious teen novel about a boy who tries go get the girl by forming a band - only he can't play an instrument.
Some of the Young Creatives then got up and read their short stories, after which the raffle took place, and everyone won a book, including a signed copy of Street Crhymes. The evening came to a close with lots of snacks. There were sandwiches, chicken wings, crisps, doughnuts, and muffins. You probably don't need me to tell you which were the most popular.