London Libraries launch new pan-London creative reading and writing programme

Libraries in London have launched a free six-month writing and reading programme from February to June 2022.

The programme will celebrate short stories and promote the development of London’s emerging short story writers.

City of Stories Home, organised by London Libraries with Spread the Word, will bring Londoners creative writing opportunities and the chance to use their talents where many other writers began their journey, explained President of London Libraries, Caroline Rae.

The programme will take place across every London Borough and the City of London to offer 33 free online creative writing workshops and engage London’s diverse communities by telling their stories.

Writer, Amer Anwar, said: “Libraries were so important to me when I was young, allowing me access to books when I might otherwise not have had it. 

“They are such a vital resource, in so many ways, and I am very pleased and proud to be involved in a project that celebrates them and also encourages people who have been inspired by their local libraries, just as I was, to try their hand at writing too.”

With ‘home’ as the theme of this creative program, City of Stories Home will offer advice on writing short stories from Writers-in-Residence Natasha Brown, Amer Anwar, Jarred McGinnis and Caleb Azumah Nelson and short stories from emerging writers, Lizzie Damilola Blackburn, Ruth Goldsmith, Iqbal Hussain and S. Niroshin.

The program will also involve the City of Stories Home competition where winning writers will have the opportunity to have their stories published in the City of Stories Home Anthology, launched in June 2022 and take part in masterclasses from the Writers-in-Residence. 

Natasha Brown, a writer, said: “London’s libraries are a fantastic resource. 

“As a lifelong Londoner, I’ve enjoyed libraries both as gateways to new literature and serene places to work. 

“I’m thrilled to join the City of Stories Home project, helping readers and writers to create and uncover new stories about the city we call home.”

The Anthology will be available for readers and reading groups in every London library service alongside an accessible collection of short story titles from London’s independent presses curated by librarians. 

London Libraries will work alongside Spread the Word, London’s literature development agency to deliver the new project.

With over 2,000 Londoners participating in 2017 and 2018, City of Stories Home is the next iteration of the programme with a focus on re-engaging local communities in creative reading and writing activities as part of libraries’ post-COVID artistic recovery plans.

City of Stories Home’s partners include Libraries Connected and RNIB Library, and it is supported by Arts Council England and Cockayne Grants for the Arts. 

Photo credit: Spread the Word Writers

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