LYA @ IALIC conference, Barcelona

cygswfgxaaacaqeLYA poet Gina Tavares and LYA volunteer/University of Leeds educational researcher Emilee Moore presented on 25th November at the 2016 conference of the International Association of Language and Intercultural Communication in Barcelona, Spain. Their presentation was called ‘Telling the stories of youth: co-producing knowledge across social worlds’. They discussed what counts as knowledge production in academic research and who is entitled to tell the stories and use the words of youth. Their presentation is a first step in developing collaborative spaces, crossing boundaries of poetry, research and education, that allow youth voices to be heard in novel ways. Gina performed two of her poems as part of the presentation: Bleach and Two Minds. The second is a poem she wrote especially for the conference to reflect on research, as a practice engaged in by both the young poets and by academics. The presentation was extremely well received by a very interested audience, who commended Gina on the quality of her performance and her thoughtful responses in the discussion that followed.


November 22, Spanish rapper El Chojín at LYA

On November 22nd, from 6-8pm at the Mandela Centre in Chapeltown, LYA will be visited by El Chojín.

El Chojín is one of Spain’s best-known hip-hop artists, especially on account of his use of rap to raise awareness about racism and other social injustices, such as gender violence and political corruption. On his visit to Leeds, he would like to hear from young writers in the city about their lives and work, and to exchange ideas and opinions with you about these and other issues in the UK and Leeds in particular.

Don’t miss it! All welcome!

This is his website:

Image sources:,

Leeds Young Authors at the West Yorkshire Playhouse

L. Smith Imaging blogged about Voices of a New Generation 2016.

L. Smith Imaging

Recently,  I was approached by Leeds Young Authors, asking if I could take some photographs of their upcoming event at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Having never done any sort of event photography before, I immediately accepted and then, almost simultaneously in fact, regretted it. Panic ensued.

In my mind, I had everything that I needed for an event- a camera that was good in low light (my Nikon D3300), a decent zoom lens (the Sigma 18-300mm), and a flash gun (a Nissin DI600). I reassured myself with “at least you’re not doing a wedding for your first event”, because doing weddings was always enough to induce some feeling of dread in my gut.

So, once I’d talked myself out of chickening out, I was actually quite looking forwards to it, was happily taking photos of the rehearsal using my flash and bouncing light off of the ceiling- everything was…

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Thank you Chapeltown!



On May 3rd, an open mic fundraising event was hosted by Anne-Marie Atkinson and Akeim Buck to help raise funds for LYA’s Brave New Voices team to go to Washington DC. The event was held at Union 105 East St Arts, as part of Anne-Marie’s and Akeim’s amazing project, ‘What didn’t you do to bury me? But you forgot that I was a seed’.

Almost £200 was raised! The room was packed from start to finish, and performances of people of all ages were fabulous!

An enormous THANKS to Akeim and Anne-Marie for getting behind the local youth! Thank you Chapeltown and people from across Leeds for coming out and supporting us!

Leeds gets behind our BNV team

thank_you_text_by_cleandesu-d9f9csxWe would like to update you on the BNV team’s activities of late. As we have previously mentioned, LYA is currently fundraising to take a team of youth poets to represent Leeds, Yorkshire and the UK at the Brave New Voices festival in Washington DC in July.

We would like to publicly thank two organisations for their support so far. Firstly, Leeds Inspired has been amazing in featuring LYA on their own blog. See what has been written about us here.

Secondly, Waitrose has accepted our cause for their Community Matters fund. If you happen to shop at Waitrose in Meanwood in May, be sure to place your token in LYA’s box!

Meanwhile, the team continues to meet regularly to write, share and rehearse! We now have one finished duet, another almost-finished duet and plenty more poems in the making.


*Image by Cleandesu:


At tonight’s LYA workshop we kept developing the poems begun last week on the topic of ‘invisibility’. After sharing the draft poems, we spoke about how to use lines and stanzas to improve poem structure, and about metaphor and other literary devices to strengthen our writing. Drafting and re-drafting are a fundamental part of the artistic process of transforming an idea into a piece that’s ready for publication or performance.

After sharing our second drafts and exchanging feedback on the product and the process, we ended with a free-write on the theme of ‘visibility’. We wrote about confidence, being in the spotlight, being on the spot, popularity, … To be continued next week…



Another great LYA drop-in workshop at the West Yorkshire Playhouse last night! We started out by discussing upcoming LYA performances (check them out on the Performances & Events section of this website), the upcoming Voices of a New Generation festival that LYA is hosting, and then did a free-write on the theme of ‘invisible’.

The poets worked their artistic magic into poems that explored invisibility from diverse angles – from feeling invisible in social groups, to the impossibility of going offline from social media. The poems reminded us that invisibility is simultaneously a limitation and a place to escape to.

The session finished by sharing our draft poems and our feedback. As always, the feedback built on the strengths of our writing and performance to help reach new levels.

Finally, the whole group discussed the progress being made by the team that is aspiring to represent LYA, Leeds, Yorkshire and the UK at the Brave New Voices poetry slam in Washington DC in July. Go team!

Join us next Tuesday evening at the West Yorkshire Playhouse at 6pm for another stimulating workshop.


LYA’s BNV team in action

LYA’s BNV 2016 team are meeting regularly outside of the weekly LYA workshops at the Mandela Centre in Chapeltown to write and rehearse for the upcoming slam in Washington DC.

The Brave New Voices (BNV) International Poetry & Literature Festival is the largest youth poetry slam competition in the world. It not only involves tough competition, but also an intense program of artistic, personal and professional development workshops.

The team’s application to participate was just recently accepted, meaning that we are now fully immersed in fundraising, writing and artistic development.

If you would like to support LYA’s efforts to help a group of young poets fulfil their dream of representing Leeds, Yorkshire and the UK in Washington DC, please remember that our Gofundme site is taking donations:

Stay tuned to our blog to hear about our progress!

LYA and the Spoken Word Exchange


LYA poets and friends took part in a master writing workshop run by special guest writers/ artist Calvin Made-Son Early and Arsimmer McCoy-Early from the USA Spoken Word Exchange, in collaboration with The Sunday Practise. The workshop was held at our new temporary home, The West Yorkshire Playhouse.

As our special guests explained:

“The SPOKEN WORD EXCHANGE is an interactive creative writing project designed to inspire participants to use poetry as a tool for self discovery, empowerment, and motivation. The project gives groups of artists in various parts of the world the opportunity to experience and learn about each other’s culture, beliefs, and way of life through the art of spoken word. Our primary goal is to build a greater, more culturally aware, global community through art of poetry.

Last year the exchange was piloted between artists here in the States and in Abu Dhabi, UAE with the help of Dorian Paul D. In April of this year Arsimmer McCoy-Early and I (Calvin Made-son Early) will be taking the project to Leeds, England.”