Our Time to Write Commission Recipients Include:
Akulah Agbami, Alex Rankin, Carrie Creamer, Cassie Waters, Catherine Brown, Cathryn Fry, Celia Jenkins, Colette Earley, Daniel Gooding, Elisabeth Janaway, Esther Thompson, Fenja Hill, Georgia-May Stone, Grevil Quinn, Jasbinder Bilan, Jasmin Perry, Juliette Morton, Josephine Corcoran, Josh Ferry Woodard, Jo Simmonds, Kate Arnold, Katie Monk, Lizi Petty, Louisa Adjoa Parker, Mandy Poole, Matt Bryden, Matthew Thorpe-Coles, Molly Llewellyn, Monika Morgan, Nia Solomon, Olivia Chapter, Olivia McCaughey, Pamela Lacy, Patricia (Tish) Camp, Paul Allen, Rita Lazaro, Ronnie McGrath, Samiha Abdeldjebar, Sam Moran, Sarah Mooney, Sophie Flynn, Steph French, Steph Wetherell, Syreeta Challinger, Tick Rowley, Veronica J Dewan, Viv Gordon, William Mager, and Zaphira Cormack.*
Akulah Agbami is director of BLACK* artists on the Move, promoting and creating development opportunities for BLACK* artists in the UK and globally. She is also artistic director with Sheba Soul Ensemble, a theatre company specializing in the retelling of ancient Afrikan legends.
A former editor of Spare Rib magazine, children’s novelist, poet and playwright, she also uses intensive art programmes to offer life-changing opportunities to highly vulnerable young people. She is exploring how arts interventions can form part of the lives of all children affected by the care system in the UK. She has a great passion for improvised theatre and its ability to be inclusive and reach entirely new audiences who are often excluded from mainstream theatre. She currently teaches creative writing for Friends of St Paul’s Library.
Alex Rankin lives by the coast in North Somerset and works behind the scenes at Bristol museum. He is a father of two.
He’s had stories published in online journals such as Ellipsis zine, Flash Fiction magazine, and Litro. He keeps an intermittent blog where he posts various bits of flash and non-fiction.
His aim during this process is to raise the level and ambition of his writing. He also hopes to discover a sense of identity as a writer and therefore strengthen his practice as a result.
Carrie is a creative arts practitioner, facilitator and producer working across Somerset and Wiltshire. Most recently, she was the Arts lead for young people as part of Wiltshire Youth Arts Partnership at Wiltshire Council. Her work involves researching, writing and developing high quality transformative arts opportunities. Much of her work is underpinned by the need to connect and explore, disrupt and question, with a keen focus on finding a voice for diverse groups of people through storytelling, visual arts and history. Her personal practice as an artist involves creating stories, tracing unexpected moments through the visual and written world. She is particularly drawn to explore notions of loss and things that are hidden. Her work is often coated in humour and the curiosity of the mundane.
Last year, Cassie Waters completed an MA in Children’s Publishing. She has written ever since she was a little girl unwell with ME (or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). An avid reader, books and her own stories allowed her to travel worlds and do the impossible. She enjoys writing short stories and hopes to gain the confidence to embark on a novel one day.
Her history of physical and mental ill health has led her to write stories which reflect her own life and experience. She is particularly passionate about women’s writing and tends to write about flawed, dark and disturbing female characters.
Cat Brown is a writer, art educator and movement psychotherapist based near Bath. She studied at Bath Spa and Roehampton Universities. Cat writes poetry and script. She is experimenting with hybrid forms to find ways of communicating emotion through unconventional narratives. She is working on a poetry collection, Elegant Grotesqueries, on the subjects of female sexuality and loss. She is also working on a play in verse called Love the Moon, exploring the psychogeography of four women living and loving in a former coal-mining town. Her verse play was shortlisted for the Bristol Old Vic open sessions in 2019.
In September 2020, Cathryn will begin an MA in Creative and Critical Writing, both of which she enjoys enormously. So far, the articles she has published are within the world of horse-racing. She was a writer/broadcaster in racing for 15 years. She is presently working on a six-episode television script, which she will continue writing during the MA. She hopes to write novels, factual books and children’s books too.
After graduating with 1st class honours in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, Celia Jenkins taught English abroad for over five years, first in China and then in Japan. During this time, Celia launched her freelancing career with travel writing. She wrote over 200 articles for Japan Info, and has since written travel content for JNTO, Culture Trip, Silka Tours, Pando Trip, The True Japan and more. She now specialises in ghostwriting children’s books and educational materials. She also contributes to online and print magazines, both in the UK and abroad, such as the Town Crier, The People’s Friend, Writing Magazine, Cross Stitch Crazy, and Ireland’s Own. In her own time, Celia writes poetry, short stories and novels. She has been shortlisted, longlisted, and won prizes in multiple competitions.
Colette Earley is a Welsh writer, currently based in Bristol. Having written for leading women’s lifestyle platforms, including Refinery29, her focus is on women’s health and culture. Colette is now delving into the world of creative writing, focusing on short stories and poetry.
Daniel Gooding was born in Bristol and lives in Bath with his wife and two children. He has had short fiction published in Stroud Short Stories: Volume 2, and also in two anthologies published by New Lit Salon Press in New York, Startling Sci-Fi: New Tales of the Beyond and First Came Fear: New Tales of Horror. He is also the author of an unpublished children’s book and is currently working on a historical crime novel.
Elisabeth Janaway lives in Somerset with three of her five children. She works part-time as a pot washer in a factory that makes posh cottage pies. She describes herself as a lazy writer with an active imagination.
Having spent the last 20 years writing for large corporations such as the BBC, the Metropolitan Police and The Telegraph, Esther refocused her creative energy and has been writing her first novel. It is a murder mystery novel set in the South West. In addition to her writing and PR career, Esther is bringing up two children and a dog in Bath. She has joined several local writing groups including a flash fiction group.
Fenja has worked in a range of jobs, from van-driving to phlebotomy to project management, but all she ever really wanted to do was write. In 2017 she took the major step of reducing her working hours and income and moving to a small coastal town to focus on her writing. One year later, she was a founding member of a creative writing group, had self-published her first novel and, moving forward, is currently working on two more. Her stories are often dark, but laced with humour. Her ambition is to be able to focus entirely on writing, without the distraction of earning a living.
Georgia-May Stone has always been drawn to American literature, horror, and psychological thrillers. She was involved with the BFI and the Bristol Old Vic in writing and producing a short film, This Too Shall Pass, before attending Bath Spa University for both an Honours and Masters degree in Creative Writing.
Georgia is currently working as a communications officer for a charity in Wiltshire, as well as writing for online publications on Medium.com. She is far too attached to the characters in her work-in-progress debut novel, The Outside.
Grevil Quinn was born and grew up in West London. He performed as a clown in France in the 1980s, and also trained in the UK and Holland. The bread and butter of his creative output over many years has been performing this role at parties, schools, fetes, hospitals and elsewhere. In the late 1990s, he trained as a fine artist in London. Throughout his adult life, he has kept a journal, drawn, and written poetry. He now lives on a narrow boat on the Kennet & Avon, just outside Bath. He also works at an after school club with children, using up-cycled and reclaimed materials to make all sorts of models, toys and artwork.
Jasbinder was born in a stable close to the foothills of the Himalayas and, until she was a year and a half, lived on a farm inhabited by a grumpy camel and a monkey called Oma.
She is an award-winning middle-grade writer and her debut, Asha And The Spirit Bird, published in 2019, was inspired by Jasbinder’s majee (Grandmother) and the wonderful stories she told of their life in rural India. Asha And The Spirit Bird was nominated for the Carnegie Medal 2019, shortlisted for The Waterstones Book Prize 2020, and won the Costa Children’s Book Award 2019.
Jasmin enjoys writing fantasy and dystopian fiction that explores themes of moral subjectivism and mental health. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and has had work included in the RSPB’s Back from the Brink anthology, Rife magazine and The Everyday magazine. She was listed as one of Rife magazine’s ‘24 Most Influential Bristolians Under 24’ in 2019 and is the founder of Weston Writer’s Nights.
Dr JLM Morton (Juliette) has had a range of work published in poetry journals and anthologies, and has two pamphlets with Yew Tree Press. She was runner-up in the Goldsmith’s Pat Kavanagh Prize and the 2019 Stroud Book Festival Poetry Competition, was winner of a People’s Poetry Podcast competition, and collaborated with the Royal Philharmonic Society on Did I Hear That?, a multimedia words and music project. Last year she read at Ledbury Poetry Festival and Stroud’s Wool & Water Festival, and appeared in a film for Places of Poetry. JLM Morton is 2020’s Poet-in-Residence at Waterland (Cotswold Water Park). She is also on the Paper Nations Kickstart Producers’ Scheme, developing a social enterprise to support writers in rural Gloucestershire. Juliette is currently working on a full poetry collection.
Jo Simmonds writes poems, prose poetry, short stories, flash fiction and short plays, and has had prose published in The Next Review, The Fiction Pool, and other online journals. She gained a distinction for her manuscript on the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Her writing focuses on the experiences of young women and teenagers. She tweets @JoCSimmonds
Josephine Corcoran grew up in a family entirely dependent on state benefits. She spent part of her childhood in foster care, leaving school aged 16 with few qualifications. Her seven brothers and sisters supported her creativity and encouraged her to return to full-time education when she was 30.
She has two BBC R4 credits for an afternoon play and a short story. She has published a poetry pamphlet, The Misplaced House (Tall Lighthouse Press, 2014) and a full collection, What Are You After? (Nine Arches Press, 2018). Josephine is working on a second poetry collection, and on a series of semi-autobiographical short stories.
She is the Poetry Society Stanza Rep in Trowbridge where she runs a group at Drawing Projects UK. From 2012-18, she founded and edited the popular poetry site And Other Poems (www.andotherpoems.com). She blogs at www.josephinecorcoran.org and is in Rachel Bentham’s Writing Fiction Workshop at Bristol University.
Josh Ferry Woodward
Josh Ferry Woodward is currently writing his first novel, a magical realist story about four strange characters leading odd lives on the fringes of society. He has detailed character profiles and back stories. He also has plot outlines for each character; however, these are not fully fleshed out. Influences include Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Haruki Murakami, Laura Esquivel, Isabel Allende, Franz Kafka and Mikhail Bulgakov.
Kate Arnold was seized by poetry whilst studying 20th century poets for English A Level. She didn’t pass her exams — she was preoccupied by reading and writing poetry!
She was the lyricist for a female-fronted post-punk band. Since then, Kate has been busy as a single working mother. She is also a carer for her mother who has dementia. She has to write during the night when she ought to be sleeping.
She recently began a spoken word/break beats music project with an old friend. Her first EP can be found here: https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/deadanyway/the-receiver-ep-2. She is currently working on her second EP.
Katie is a journalist, author and editor, whose work has been published in The Times, The Guardian, The Independent and Psychologies. She’s written four books, the most recent of which, There She Goes, is about solo female travel.
Lizi Petty studied French and History of Art at University. Her first job was as an editorial assistant for a small magazine publishing company in London. Next, she did some freelance subbing work in Sydney and London. She travelled again, teaching English as a Foreign Language, and lived in Japan for a while.
She trained first as a paediatric nurse, then in an emergency department in Devon where she experienced the frontline of emergency nursing. She worked for Médecins Sans Frontiéres in DR Congo.
She now lives with her two young children in Wiltshire and works as a triage nurse in a GP surgery. She feels she has stories to tell, and much to say. She has written a little on her experiences as a nurse, and had something completely different published in Stylist recently. She would like to work towards establishing a style.
She is on Instagram and Twitter as Thecircuitousroute.
Louisa Adjoa Parker
Louisa is a writer of Ghanaian and English heritage who lives in South West England. She is passionate about telling the stories of marginalised voices in rural spaces. Her first poetry collection, Salt-sweat and Tears, was published by Cinnamon Press, and her third poetry collection, How to wear a skin, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2019.
Louisa has work in a range of journals and anthologies. She has been highly commended by the Forward Prize, twice shortlisted by the Bridport Prize, and commended by the National Poetry Competition 2019.
Louisa has written books and exhibitions exploring BAME history in the South West. Her first short story collection will be published later this year with Colenso Books, and she has a forthcoming coastal memoir which will be published by Little Toller Books.
Mandy lives in Weston-super-Mare, but is originally from a village not far from Cheddar. She loves going on long walks in the countryside with her husband, four young children, and very bouncy dog.
She has experience writing articles on a freelance basis, but would like to expand upon this and pursue a career in writing. She is interested in setting up her own blog and also gaining work with women’s magazines. She is from a health and social care background, and has worked as a support worker with adults with learning disabilities.
She appreciates this opportunity to learn new skills from experienced writers. She also hopes to gain more confidence in her work.
Matt is a teacher and poet who lives in the West Country. He runs the annual Somerset Young Poets competition, and is well-known at schools across the county. As a teacher, he has worked with the Poetry Society, the Arvon Foundation, the John Betjeman Prize and the George Orwell Society. His publications include a pamphlet set in a Yorkshire hotel, a first collection and a book of translation, while his poetry has appeared in numerous journals. In 2018, he won a Literature Matters award from the Royal Society of Literature for a project treating Bristol Temple Meads Lost Property Office as a gateway to the Underworld. He has an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths, University of London.
Matthew Thorpe-Coles is an MA Creative Writing Student at Bath Spa, focusing on poetry. His poetry focuses on landscape, identity and disenfranchisement.
Molly is a queer, disabled 19-year-old from the South West who enjoys writing, reading, interior design, and runs a book blog in her spare time.
Monika Morgan is a former journalist who now writes on a freelance basis. She particularly enjoys writing about the places she explores while travelling.
Nia Solomon is a 41-year-old poetry writer, psychology graduate, mother, yoga enthusiast, self-employed gardener and ecstatic dance devotee. Her poetry currently centres around the issues and interplay of feminism, gender, sex and culture. She is moved by the flagrant degradation of the feminine in Western culture over the last two thousand years, as evidenced most notably by the destruction of our Mother, the Earth.
Liv is a PhD student in History, mother of two, wife of one, admin worker, Bathonian, and sidekick to her two dogs. She enjoys reading, napping, writing (none of which she gets much time for), and accruing student debt. She tends towards long-form fiction, but has written plays and short stories as well. She is rubbish at poetry. She favours no particular genre, but finds herself mostly writing historical and sci-fi stories — not necessarily, but often, at the same time.
Liv McCaughey is a recent graduate in Acting and Creative writing. She uses her knowledge of plays, poetry and prose to blur the norms of structure and create hybrid and experimental pieces of literature. Foremost a poet and a lifetime performer, she creates work which demands to be read at more than a surface level, and encourages exploration through her visceral, multifaceted reflections on the world around her.
When she was 15, Pamela Lacy’s English teacher read one of her stories out in school assembly and, although embarrassed, it made her wonder if she could write books that other people might want to read. She has held onto that dream throughout her life, but has not yet been able to realise it. This is mainly because of a lack of time and money, due to bringing up two children on her own.
She still has lots of ideas. Now, with the help of this commission from Time to Write, along with support from an online writing group, she will finally be able to get started.
Paul Allen grew up on a large, old fenland council estate in the sixties. He started working on building sites on his holidays at eleven, four years before leaving school. Over the last twenty years he did occasional freelance motorcycle touring and testing for a worldwide motorcycle magazine. Four years ago, he studied for a BA Hons in ‘creative and professional writing’.
He hopes to complete the first draft of his memoir, Common People, in May 2020. He has written short stories and two screenplays — one a supernatural police procedural set in the fens in 1830, the other a complete film set on a council estate in 1977.
Amongst many other things, Ronnie McGrath draws on a neo-surrealist, postmodern aesthetic to look at what ‘Blackness’ is and what it can become. He has paintings in Callaloo: Journal of African American Arts and Letters. His writing is in the anthology IC3 Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain (Penguin, 2001), and in Black Lives Have Always Mattered (2 Leaf Press, 2017).
His novel, On The Verge of Losing It, was published by ankhademia press in 2010. Data Trace, a full poetry collection, was published by Salt in 2010. More recently, he has published poetry in the anthology Filigree (Peepal Tree Press, 2018). He teaches Creative Writing in a variety of settings such as Imperial College London.
Samiha Abdeldjebar is a French-Algerian writer and film-maker living and working in Corsham (rural Wiltshire). She trained in Film Production at La Fémis (Paris), and has written, produced and directed seven short films since 2013. She is passionate about documenting issues around social justice and human rights.
Samiha also writes short stories, poetry and non-fiction. Two of her poems have been published in one of the Domestic Cherry anthologies. In 2015, she wrote a piece about Palestinian street artists for a Vienna-based magazine (Mit Spraydose und Pinsel gegen die Besatzung, Promedia).
Sam Moran has lived in Salisbury all her life and considers herself an LGBT working class writer. Sam has performed her poems around the South West, at the Merlin Theatre in Frome, and on Radio Four. Sam co-managed the Salisbury Poetry Cafe and was writer-in-residence at Salisbury Arts Centre. Sam had some of her poetry recorded on CD (Liquid Jam).
Sam belongs to two writing groups, and is experimenting with writing monologues and comedy. She also writes short stories. Drawing on her own experiences, she would like to write more about mental health, addiction and LGBT issues. Sam hopes to finish a series of monologues for professional performance and tour it around the local area.
Sarah Mooney is a storyteller, myth weaver, and spell breaker. She has been working with story for over twenty years. She has told stories for The Whispering Wood Folk, Woodland Circus, and National Portrait Gallery. She has been Storyteller-in-Residence for the Roald Dahl Foundation, Seven Stories and the S.S. Great Britain.
She believes stories are portals, places where our ancestors can speak, and landscapes where nature’s wisdom can be seen and celebrated. Stories are maps, laid down long ago so that we can navigate the nowtime with more elegance and authority.
As an Elder Chaired Bard of Glastonbury, Sarah has studied the myths of this land and continues to excavate the truth and currency of these stories. She trained with Clarissa Pinkhola Estes, Augusto Boal, and Carmen Vicente. She works with ritual, prayer and story to create a unique ceremonial experience.
Sophie is a writer from the Cotswolds. She recently earned an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford Brookes and works in marketing.
After being awarded a place at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School on the TopWrite scheme for young writers in 2017, Sophie began writing short stories. A number of these stories have been published in literary journals and placed in competitions, including a commendation from best-selling author Amanda Reynolds for the Cheltenham Literature Festival short story competition.
Sophie is currently looking for an agent for her first novel, The Promise — a domestic suspense with themes of coercive control, family secrets, and betrayal. When she’s not writing, Sophie can mostly be found on muddy countryside walks with her husband and dog.
You can find Sophie on Twitter at @sophielflynn and at sophieflynn.com
Steph currently writes middle-grade magical realism. She is finalising edits of her first book, a lower middle-grade woodland animal story, as well as sketching out plans for two upper middle-grade stories, one involving trees and the other food. Themes of the environment and connectedness are common threads in her work. She is also keen to develop some ideas for adult contemporary fiction with similar themes.
Steph is writing full-time although is frequently distracted by her two teenage boys. In particular, by their apparent requirements for several thousand calories per meal.
Steph is a freelance writer and project coordinator living in Bristol. Her creative writing is currently focused on exploring the concept of ‘home’ — what this means to different people, what influences this, and how one’s home can change with time and circumstances.
Syreeta Challinger is a creative soul with a background in fashion and textiles. She came to writing unexpectedly as a form of therapy after her now husband suffered a catastrophic brain haemorrhage and stroke in 2014. Through navigating such change, she found that she loves to play with prose and has an affinity for words. Her writing is visceral and honest. As a carer and a new mother, her writing is about strength of spirit, humanity, hope, care, courage, compassion, and love.
Tick Rowley is a short story writer, playwright, poet and performer. Her work looks at the human condition, exploring what it is that makes us human, while always taking into account the nature of the world we live in. Through her writing, Tick aims to encourage people to view ordinary circumstances anew and from an alternative perspective. As well as writing, Tick is a part of an art collaboration Rowley & Michaelmas, which makes commissioned art films. Tick is based in the Mendip hills and is the current Bard of Bath.
Veronica J Dewan
Veronica writes about the care system, race, culture and psychiatry. Her life-writing has been published in anthologies by Routledge, BAAF, Open University, and the Mental Health Foundation.
She began writing for theatre in 2013. Extracts from Papa India (2014) have been read at The Salberg and Salisbury Art Centre. Her short plays have had readings at the Salisbury Fringe Festival. She is developing Aftercare, about the vulnerability of girls leaving the care system. Veronica is a wordsmith for Congress, a collaboration between Wiltshire Creative and All The Queens Men, Salisbury International Arts Festival 2020.
Of Irish and Indian heritage, Veronica was born in a Catholic mother and baby home on the North Downs. She now lives in Salisbury.
Viv is a theatre maker and survivor activist. She creates work grounded in her lived experience as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and as a way to nurture survivor voice, visibility, community, and to mobilise empathy and agitate for change. Recent work includes Cutting Out (in progress), ORAL (2019) and I am Joan (2016-17).
She has received two commissions from Bristol University to animate research. One of these, PreScribed (a life written for me) looks at a GP’s mental health, and uses new writing alongside verbatim material from interviews with doctors. The other commission, The Book of Jo ( based on philosopher Havi Carel’s book Illness) considers how we maintain hope in adversity, with the dubious help of the Old Testament story The Book of Job.
Viv is developing a new spoken word project called Restless, using coastal landscape and imagery to articulate survivor experiences. She has taught autobiographical theatre writing masterclasses for Graeae, Northcott Futures and the Somerset Theatre Writing group. She has written a series of blogs on ‘Autobiographical Writing and the Traumatised Body’ for Disability Arts Online.
After twenty years in film and television, William Mager is pursuing a new direction in writing short stories rooted in historical events and real-life people, with a bit of science fiction thrown in. He studied English Literature at Durham, and then completed an MA in Writing for Film and Television, mentored by Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice, House of Cards). Some of his favourite writers, particularly when it comes to short stories, are Chuck Palahniuk, Ted Chiang, John Cheever, Patricia Highsmith, Wells Tower, Richard Yates, Ken Liu and Roald Dahl.
Zaphira Cormack loves to be busy and helpful. She enjoys writing, painting, photography and making music. She writes training content — music for young children. She blogs on family life and reviews family products. She’d much rather be writing crime fiction! She had a short story published as part of a collaboration.
Zoe Raven fits writing around caring for her five children. She has amassed quite a few poems over the years, but has only recently found the confidence to send them out for possible publication. As she has OCD, she has struggled in the past with perfectionist tendencies and fear of failure which prevented her from sharing her work. However, she is now in a good place both personally and creatively.
She is currently working on the second draft of a short novel which could be described as a comedy/horror/social commentary set in both Essex and Poland. The experiences of women and feminist issues are almost always central themes of her writing.
She is hoping that, by joining this network, she will make friends and receive the critique she needs to progress. Zoe has recently been accepted onto an Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing at the University of Oxford.