New chapter beckons north east Fife writer

Erin Morrissey Gillman, a poet from Newport
Erin Morrissey Gillman, a poet from Newport

A teenager from Newport is embarking on an exciting chapter in her life after being chosen to play a key role in a literary project.

Erin Morrissey Gillman (17), an aspiring poet, is one of only 10 young people from around Scotland chosen to work on the national What’s Your Story? intiative run by the Scottish Book Trust.

The first nationwide programme of its kind in Scotland, What’s Your Story? is aimed at increasing opportunities for young people to access and contribute to literary culture .

Erin will help develop a raft of resources for her fellow aspiring writers, including a two-day creative writing conference in June; a network of young writers and illustrators groups and an online resource to embolden and support Scotland’s teenage writers.

The ten teen participants are also being professionally mentored in their chosen forms and genres, and will be showcasing work completed during their mentorship on the programme at the conference.

The group, which represents many different genres of writing, includes a screenwriter, a pair of poets, two non-fiction writers of travelogues and life stories, a novelist and two short story writers. A Gaelic poet and a graphic novelist complete the lineup.

Erin said: “ I would love to meet more people my age and learn about the creative scene in Scotland as someone who will hopefully find a career there. It’s kind of my main drive.

“ I feel like I’m on a bit of a journey now, I’ve taken the first steps towards something quite interesting and exciting and something that’ll definitely benefit me.

“I also feel like there’s a scene building for young writers and creators and I want to say ‘Come on, join in! Stuff is happening!’ I kind of want to share that with people.”

Nicole Brandon, Young Writers Co-ordinator at Scottish Book Trust said: “The enthusiasm for creative writing and illustration shown by our ten teens in the initial weeks of the programme has been both extraordinary and joyous.

“Their faith in the ability of literature to inspire adventure, empathy and imagination has given What’s Your Story? phenomenal momentum, and we cannot wait to showcase their contributions to Scotland’s literary and creative culture.

“Their passion and conviction only reaffirms that young people have always deserved to be a part of our literary culture as creators and critics – not resigned to a default role as consumers.

“It’s our privilege to follow the lead of our teenage participants and create new and fruitful opportunities for them and their peers to connect with each other, grow in confidence and ability, and collaborate to create their own new facet to Scotland’s literary culture.”

The judging team, including two teenage members of Youth Arts Voice Scotland, and representatives from Creative Scotland, The Gaelic Books Council and Scottish Book Trust, carefully reviewed entries from around Scotland before selecting the final 10.

Participants were selected on the enthusiasm and dedication they expressed for teenage participation in creative and literary culture.

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