Two writers, playwright Emma Adams and poet Malika Booker, are joining the core team of The Writing Squad, a development programme for writers aged 16-21 in the north of England.
Adams and Booker will join novelist Jenn Ashworth and poet and artist Stevie Ronnie in delivering the Squad's free development programme. Specifically the pair will help deliver the Squad's workshops, projects and one-to-one writer development.
Director Steve Dearden welcomed the pair at what he called "a crucial time" for The Writing Squad; in January it will begin working with another 30 young writers to support them and help them to develop over the next two years.
"Having Emma and Malika on board will make that an extra enticing proposition to young scriptwriters and poets out there," said Dearden.
The Writing Squad’s chair, Sophie O’Neill, added in warm welcome: "There was stiff competition for these roles, Malika and Emma stood out not only for their exceptional talent and experience, but also for the excitement and enthusiasm they showed for working with and developing the work of our Squad writers."
The Art Council funded organisation has worked with 179 young artists since 2001.
Adams is a playwright, screenwriter and dramaturge from Bradford. Her writing ranges between dark political satire for adults and adventure comedy for children. She has written plays to be performed in houses, swimming pools and graveyards, as well as on stages. She has worked with Red Ladder, Slung Low, Chris Goode, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Theatre 503, Freedom Studios, Ovalhouse and Paines Plough, and three of her plays have toured nationally. Two, Ugly and Animals, are published by Oberon books.
"I am excited to be joining The Writing Squad," said Adams. "It's the start of a new creative adventure and I cannot wait. Words and stories form our understanding of the world, so to be working with the Squad writers as they hone the stories that will shape our future is a huge privilege."
Booker’s writing spans poetry, theatre, monologue, installation, and education. She has worked with Arts Council England, the BBC, British Council, Wellcome Trust, National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Arvon, and Hampton Court Palace. She also ran Malika's Kitchen, a writers' collective based in London and Chicago. Her latest poetry collection Pepper Seed is published by Peepal Tree Press and she is featured in Penguin Modern Poets 3 with Sharon Olds and Warsan Shire.
Booker said: "The most exciting aspect of this post is the ability to have an input and impact on our future writers. I can’t wait to discover, encourage, motivate, shape and enable the discovery of voice, building of poetic knowledge of writing and performance craft and to feed into our thriving national literary industry. I relish the opportunity to be able to contribute my skills to this groundbreaking organisation."
Both writers begin their new roles in January 2018.