Published 23.02.2023
by Kids’ Own

Young Writers Prepare for an Exciting New Book Launch!

Sarah O’Keeffe (Kids’ Own Intern) Talks About Her Zoom Meeting with our Young Writers group

I recently had the honour of joining the dynamic group of Kids’ Own Young Writers on Zoom for a chat regarding their upcoming new book launch.  There was a great buzz online as the Young Writers looked forward to their second published collaborative project.

The Young Writers collection, consisting of a group of writers aged between 12-14 years old,  began in 2018.  The purpose was to create a cross-border initiative program between Derry and Donegal, whereby writers could meet, share ideas, workshop, and write to create a collaborative collection of fiction, prose and poetry.  The program began with Mary Branley (Associate Writer) as mentor and facilitator.  Under Mary’s guidance, the writers were given prompts to inspire their writing.  This resulted in On the Brink, a brilliant collection of short stories and poems.

As a BA Hons Writing and Literature student in my final year of study at the Atlantic Technological University, I have had the opportunity to work with some extremely talented writers and lecturers.  That said, I was in awe after reading the Young Writers work.  Their styles, voices, use of language, and imagination was admirable.  Once discovering that there will be a second publication (yet to be titled) that will be launched at the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry on March 25th, I was captivated.  I shared my initial reaction of On the Brink with Mary, to which she stated, “Just wait until you see this next book.”

The Zoom meeting began with discussion about dates for an in-person meeting to coordinate the launch.  Potentially, a writing workshop session facilitated by the Young Writers is under consideration.  This would then be followed by a book launch, and then an open mic session.  After the discussion, Suzanna Galbraith (poet and editor of Abridged Magazine) facilitated a prompted writing workshop.  The prompts involved AI image generated photos and the line: “At the end…”.  The Young Writers then had an opportunity to write for 30 minutes.  When we returned to the meeting, Mary read out a poem that she curated from the Young Writers work.  A beautiful, experimental, poem involving carefully chosen lines from their writing in union.  A collage of text applauded by all in attendance.

The writers then had an opportunity to share their work and offer feedback to one another. Within half an hour, the writers each composed evocative works of visceral prose.  The prompts inspired some of the writers to pursue a balance of dystopia and nature, whilst others expanded on previous work providing a sense of magic.  The feedback shared was full of support.  Despite the different styles and genres, a common thought was how refined the writing was, and how each writer found their voice.  We signed off the Zoom call with warm applause.

I have the upmost respect for the Young Writers.  If this is any indication of the next generation of Irish writers, the literary and creative world has much to look forward to.  The new publication will be available for purchase from the Kids’ Own website after the launch in March 2023.

You can read more about Sarah and her love of writing and literature below. 

Sarah is a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) Writing and Literature student in her final year of study at the ATU (Atlantic Technological University) in Sligo.  Sarah has a passion for both fiction and non-fiction writing, children’s literature, screenwriting, digital arts, photography, video editing and content creation.  She loves working with children and has offered voluntary poetry and creative writing workshops in schools and online. She has also assisted children with creating their own digital books.  Sarah is originally from Canada and has travelled abroad before settling in Sligo with her husband and son Charlie.  Sarah is an advocate for families with Cystic Fibrosis and has published essays about some of the challenges parents face.  Sarah is delighted to have the opportunity to engage with the team at Kids’ Own and be a part of this wonderful group of collaborators.

Photo : Sarah as a child.