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This afternoon (Tuesday 10th March, 3pm) will see the launch of Fighting Words Belfast, the city's exciting new creative writing project for children and young people. Writers Glenn Patterson and Roddy Doyle , two of the project's patrons, will be joined by guests at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen's University Belfast to celebrate the launch.
Speaking ahead of the event, local author Glenn Patterson said, "Fighting Words (even the name galvanises), a dedicated centre for writing in Belfast, would be a tremendous boost for the children and young people of the city, and beyond, giving them the confidence to be the tellers of their own stories, authors of their own lives."
The project is working in partnership with three of Belfast's leading cultural institutions; Young at Art, Skainos and 174 Trust, as well as sister organisation Fighting Words Dublin. Irish author Roddy Doyle, who co-founded the Fighting Words Dublin in 2009, said, "The possibility of a Fighting Words in Belfast and the prospect of witnessing children there being introduced to the power of their own creative writing excites me greatly."
Fighting Words Belfast will offer free workshops and summer schemes in creative writing, providing an opportunity for children and young people to explore a wide range of literary forms - from fiction and poetry and scriptwriting to song and illustration. Programmes will be open to primary and secondary school groups and youth groups, with participants each creating a piece of writing unique to them. The emphasis is on creativity, exploring and imagination, making a Fighting Words Workshop a different experience to that of school.
"You get to control your own way of writing," said Faye, aged thirteen, who took part in a pilot workshop in January of this year. Head of English at Bloomfield Collegiate School, Julie Lenaghan, said, "It is fantastic! We're delighted we've taken part and we're really hoping we can come back."
Fighting Words Belfast is part of a growing network of creative writing centres which has developed out of 826 Valencia, a creative writing centre founded by Dave Eggers and Ninive Calegari in San Francisco in 2002. Inspired by this, Roddy Doyle and Sean Love founded Fighting Words in Dublin, which became the first of its kind in Europe and provided inspiration in turn for similar projects in Barcelona, Milan, Stockholm and London. The Ministry of Stories in London was co-founded by Nick Hornby in 2010, and both Nick and Dave join Glenn Patterson and Roddy Doyle as patrons of Fighting Words Belfast.
As the newest member of this international network , Fighting Words Belfast will open up a world of creative opportunity to the children and young people of Northern Ireland. New York-based Irish writer Colum McCann shared his support for the project, saying, "Not only will Fighting Words begin to foster all sorts of young literary talent from Northern Ireland, it will attract internationl writers and artists to our shores. This is about giving Belfast further voice and giving our young people a chance to shape it."
CLICK HERE to find out how you can get involved with the project.