I am a commissioned writer, creative writing facilitator and prize-winning performer based in Leeds.
I graduated from the University of Leeds in 2002 with a 2:1 in English (BA), after which I undertook a community arts course with Artlink West Yorkshire, completing a PGCE in adult education in 2007. Since then I have worked full-time to deliver creative writing and combined arts workshops in diverse settings.
I am interested in using keys of different shapes and sizes to unlock people’s voices, whether spoken, written or performative. My work is informed by the belief that words can be agencies of change, both for individuals and within the communities in which they live. I believe that the stories we tell about ourselves have the ability to transform us, that those we tell about the world help to create the world anew.
I have written with just about every type of group you can imagine in the safe but challenging spaces created by my workshops. Participants are encouraged to draw inspiration from writing exercises, artworks, sound, objects, the news, literature and their own experiences to create written poetry, fiction, multi-media pieces or pieces for performance. Play, experimentation, discussion, feedback and practical writing activities are central to my practice and sessions are tailored to the needs of each particular group. I also enjoy collaborative work and am excited by how different art-forms can inspire and meld with one another in novel ways.
I work regularly for a number of key organisations and charities in the region. These include Ilkley Literature Festival, for whom I run the Ilkley Young Writers group alongside Michelle Scally Clarke; The Hepworth Wakefield; The West Yorkshire Playhouse; Artlink West Yorkshire and Imove. I also run one-day workshops, drop-in sessions at festivals, enrichment days and CPD training. My experience includes facilitation of drama and performance workshops, coaching a youth poetry slam team for Shake The Dust and editing and compiling material for publications.
My poems and stories have been filmed, published by Bloodaxe, Mslexia, New Walk, Envoi, Mother’s Milk, in Poets For Corbyn, on umbrellas, and on the walls of a recording studio. I have had pieces commissioned by The Hepworth Wakefield, The Rotunda Museum, Humbermouth Literature Festival, Imove and Grassington Arts Festival. In 2015, my poem 'Austerity' was translated into Italian by Francesca Spinelli and printed in the socialist magazine Internazionale. A current collaboration is Haunt, an Imove commission, working with people experiencing homelessness or vulnerable housing.
I have won several prizes for my poetry including first prize for The Speakeasy Open Competition, second prize in the Ilkley Literature Open Mic and runner up in the Yorkshire Open Poetry Competition. My work has also been shortlisted in several international competitions including The Fish Short Story Prize. In 2013 I was the commissioned poet for Morley Literature Festival and Grassington Visual Arts Festival.
My poetry pamphlet and collection are due out in 2016 with Mother’s Milk and Cinnamon Press respectively. I am currently seeking an agent for my second, magical realist, novel.
Work produced during my workshops has been collated in anthologies and performed on radio and at venues such as The Leeds Town Hall and Leeds Civic Hall. Films of my projects have been exhibited in Leeds City Art Gallery and Tate London. Several of my students have been published or won competitions, including The Chalke Valley History Prize, which was presented to Ilkley Young Writer Amy Luxton by Sebastian Faulkes and Joannna Lumley in 2013.
Please see www.beckycherriman.com for more information.