What we do

Leeds Young Authors began in 2003. Our organisation aims to help young people, aged 13-19, to develop their artistic abilities as confident writers and live performers, supporting them on their path towards artistic, academic, professional and personal success and well-being.

LYA also organises the Voices of a New Generation Annual Poetry Slam & Literature Festival in Leeds. This involves the LYA young poets and mentors going into schools and other community organisations and coaching other young people in writing and performance skills. This culminates in a poetry and literature festival held at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in July, where LYA poets and the young people they have mentored showcase their work.

LYA alumni also regularly run workshops for young people in schools, community centres and other spaces. We are about positive social change through our art.

How we do it

The backbone of LYA are our free, weekly drop-in writing workshops (formerly at the Leeds Media Centre, now at the West Yorkshire Playhouse). They take place from 6-8pm on Tuesday nights. In these sessions, 13-19 year olds share their ideas and their writing, guided by artistic mentors (notably Khadijah Ibrahiim, LYA’s artistic director and a published poet, LYA alumni who coach new the generations, and visiting artists) and other volunteer educators and mentors. In the sessions we share, revise, re-write and practice poetry and other writing that is eventually performed in public spaces.

When our poets perform in public, either at events we organise ourselves or at ones we are invited to, and when they work with other young people, they are conscious of the power of their voices to promote positive social change. In this way, we see our performances and outreach as a way of engaging the community in working towards a more just society.

How we are supported

We rely almost entirely on support in kind from different individuals and associations. All artistic and educational mentors are volunteers. Our weekly workshops are completely free to ensure they are as inclusive as possible for young writers.