The Writing Squad


It's been a busy year for Squad 8 so far, they have been meeting our core team for one to ones, attending squad days and guest-tutored workshops, and progressing their own creative work with our support. As we head towards the year-end, here's a roundup of the most recent achievements of writers from across all 8 Squads. 

Squad6 grad Charley Miles is the West Yorkshire Playhouse’s new Writer In Residence for 2017 supported by the Channel 4 Playwrights’ Bursary Scheme.  Charley’s first play, Blackthorn, featured in the Playhouse’s Autumn/Winter season this September.

James Brining, Artistic Directors at West Yorkshire Playhouse said: “Charley will be embedded into our team of directors, trainee directors and associate artists. This will include working closely with our Literary Associate Jacqui Honess-Martin, who directed Charley’s debut, Blackthorn.”

James Giddings, Daniel Whitaker, Lewis Brown and Sarah Gonnet all have poetry books out this autumn.

Squad 6 grad JamesEverything is Scripted, was winner of the 2016 Templar Pamphlet & Collection Award.

Daniel, current Squad member's pamphlet Know-it-all, is available now from Otley Word Feast Press.

Lewis, Squad6 grad, has published Middle Spirits, a collection of illustrated poems.

Squad7 grad Sarah's debut poetry collection, VOICES, has been published by Survivors' Press.
Having toured his one man show FADoubleGOT, Squad7 grad Jamal Gerald is now appearing in Scottee's Putting Words in Your Mouth at the Roundhouse, London, until 3rd December. A lip synch marathon the show shares the views of LGBTQI people from all over the UK who feel left behind by mainstream politics. What's On Stage said the show "takes a shotgun to identity politics and challenges the left to repair the damage". Book here.
Squad7 grad Kate Collins returns to the Footlights Smoker on Thursday 1st December for an evening of alternative standup comedy, with headliner Grainne Maguire. Tickets available here.

Squad6 grad Jasmine Simms is back with another Dead [Women] Poets Society on December 3rd, this time at New Roots in Sheffield. This time the line-up includes a host of Writing Squad faces, with T.S.Eliot-nominated and Sheffield-born poet, Helen Mort, alongside this year's New Poets' Prize winners, Jenny Danes (Squad7) and Imogen Cassels (Squad6), and Yorksire New Poet, Jasmine Simms.

The Living Woman Poets will read from their own work, as well as discussing and reading from poetry by Sarah Kane, Julia Casterton, Veronica Forrest-Thomson, and Marina Tsvetaeva.

As ever, the event is free and will explore who the Dead Women Poets are, how "dead" they really are, and what our relationships are to them as contemporary women, poets or artists.  More details here.


No Door Theatre is a new company managed by Squad 8 member Georgia Affonso and Sarah Teale. Female-focused, they tackle the grey areas of psychological health and provide plays for those who cannot fork out for expensive tickets.

Their first play forgive-me-not, written by Georgia, is being performed on the 8-10th December in Zifferblat in Manchester's Northern Quarter. forgive-me-not follows two siblings who must decide whether they will finally visit their mother after 10 years of separation, before she is executed for the murder of their father. Both have to come to terms with the fact that sometimes you have no control over what in the past you can forget. 

To help support the company, please donate anything you can to their start-up fund all the money will be going into promoting new writing that levels the playing field for women on stage, and then book a ticket to see their first show and like them on Facebook.


Squad7 grad Lenni Sanders will be reading her work at Kulning, a night of winter songs and storytelling from First Draft and The Real Story. Writers and musicians have been paired together for the night, inspired by Kulnings – ancient songs that families would use to call in their cattle from the Swedish mountains.

Kulning will take place on Monday 19th December, 7.30pm at The Castle Hotel, Manchester. Admission is free.
Sadly you have missed Squad4's Andy Owen Cook production of The Church of Jim with Forest Sounds Theatre. On at Theatre Delicatessen Sheffield and Arts Depot London earlier this month, the show focussed on the mysterious and prolific Jim, who initiated each new audience into his cult.  For a glimpse into everything Jim, you can watch the show's trailer here. Does playing it backwards uncover a secret message? Possibly. Will that message be mostly about cake? Definitely.
Squad7 grad Sarah Fletcher has been selected by TOAST Poetry to receive professional mentoring. 

TOAST was set up by Spread The Word, and is a continued professional development project for mid-career poets. It takes the form of six workshops over a three-month period. In addition, each TOAST poet is offered an hour long mentoring session with an established poet or editor to discuss their work and what steps they might take to progress.
Squad6 grad Katie Byford has been busy with the second issue of Thorn, her Durham-based project combining online content and live events. Thorn is run by and for young people, aiming to bring artists together through collaborative work. The latest issue also features current NW squad member Elizabeth Gibson, with her poetry piece Birthdeath. You can read Issue 2, Wildernesshere.
Squad grad and board member May Sumbwanyambe has won the Alfred Fagon Audience Award for his play After Independence.

Squad grad and board member Jessica Mitic has been nominated at the BBC Audio Drama Awards for her production of DOT: The Mystery at St. Horribly-Vulture’s School for Boys, as well as for a Radio Academy award thanks to her Radio4 production of Cuttin' It.

Squad7 grad Jenny Danes was highly commended in the Bridport Poetry Competition for her poem Missing Person.

Current NE Squad member Alex Shaw was shortlisted in The London Magazine Poetry Prize 2016 for his poem Sonnet, NW Squad member Elizabeth Gibson came second in the Poetry Society's Timothy Corsellis Prize with her poem Barthelasse and Yorkshire Squad member Matthew Ingram was longlisted for this year's Papatango New Writing Prize for his play Für Elise.
Squad1 grad Penny Andrews has been commissioned by Obverse Books to write an in-depth study of the late Victoria Woods’ seminal BBC sitcom, Dinnerladies.

The book will include interviews with key cast members and will look at the context of Dinnerladies among other comedies and will be published in 2017 by Obverse Books.
Squad7 grad Lenni Sanders has taken over as General Editor at The Cadaverine. The online magazine was originally set up by Squad2 grad Wes Brown. Lenni has previously edited for The Crocodile poetry magazine and co-edited zines for Stirred Poetry.
Squad grad Chris Bush has been selected by Orange Tree Theatre for their Writers Collective. The Collective brings together group of writers to share skills and techniques, and to fire up conversations and collaborations.

Chris also continues her work with Sheffield People's Theatre with What We Wished For, on at the Crucible Theatre In July 2017. The play is set around a retirement home where a group of seniors await rescue by their grandchildren, and looks at lessons each generation pass on to the next.
Squad7 grad Jack Hart has released a new song, The City of Dreams, on Soundcloud. This is the first of twelve special releases from Jack, all of which were originally performed as accompaniments to a play, Flesh, performed in Salford back in February.

Squad4 grad Andy Owen Cook will be featured in the upcoming Wordlife anthology.

Squad6 grad James Giddings has poems in Magma 66, their forthcoming comedy issue.

Squad7 grad Jenny Danes is featured in issue 56 of The North.

Current NW Squad member Elizabeth Gibson has pieces in The Rising Phoenix Review and August's issue of Now Then Magazine and poetry in Issue 25 of Jotters United.

Current NW Squad member Jen Anderson also has a poem in August's issue of Now Then Magazine.

Current NE Squad member Alex Shaw's poem Occupation is featured in The London Magazine.

This Autumn we have worked with the Leeds based Young at Arts project to offer Squad writers the opportunity to experience working on intergenerational projects.

Malaika Booker took us on a tour of Headingley charity shops and Ben Wilkinson and Matt Rowan Maw of Deranged Industries led a mixed age group in our Film in a Weekend weekend. Starting from nothing on Saturday morning, we shaped, shot and edited two short films, uploading His Bridge and Never Seen to YouTube on the Sunday night.
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