Keeping it Lit!

Justine Dwyer reports

A GROUP of budding young authors from Waterford, under the aegis of Waterford Youth Arts, will launch a hugely ambitious literary festival in the city on November 10th, the only one of its kind in Ireland to date.
The Lit, which runs over the weekend of November 10th and 11th, is the only young persons writers festival in Ireland, organised and run by young people themselves. It was the brainchild of youngsters attending Waterford Youth Arts Creative Writing Group in the City Library every Saturday morning and was initially suggested as a bit of a joke.

“Every year WYA do a big project and we were asked for suggestions. Someone threw out the idea of a literary festival messing and Emer, our facilitator said, “actually that’s a good idea,” explains committee member Libby Marchant.
The idea of launching your own festival would be a daunting prospect for the most accomplished adult, yet these teenagers remained unfazed about any of it. Arts Council funding was obtained and once they got the go ahead, they took ownership of the entire project.
Lit
The Lit, explains Isobel Tiernan, another committee member, is a festival of reading and writing with it’s unique selling point being that it is entirely organised by young people for young people. “The one thing we all have in common is that we love writing and we have a really strong creative writing group at WYA.”
Three different writers come into the group every three weeks and give them completely different exercises to complete. They then read their work out to the other members of the group, a task that most people would find terrifying.

“At first we used to die at the thoughts of it. But we’re over all that now,” laughs Isobel adding that their aim is to give other youngsters the confidence to read out their work in front of an audience. The essence of The Lit, say the girls, is to encourage people to dip their literary toe into the waters of words and to that end they have organised a series of workshops, questions and answers sessions and an open mic event over the two days of the festival.

The highlight however is sure to be the “Writers In TRAINing” event which they have organised on a train from Heuston to Waterford on Saturday morning November 11th. Over the course of the journey, two Irish writers, Colm Keegan and Stephen James Smith will present a workshop on the train as it makes its way back to Waterford. Those who wish to take part are then given the option of another workshop as part of The Lit programme and treated to lunch, all for price of €20.
“I love how we can finally feel like we are part of something bigger than just a group of people who meet in the library every Saturday. It has been an amazing experience and we really hope to turn it into an annual event and give other people our age the confidence to come to an open mic night and read out their work.”
Libby adds that although there has been a lot of hard work involved, it has been a massively enjoyable experience. “In school sometimes it can feel like your opinion is just tossed aside so it’s nice going to a place where people listen and where your voice can be heard. We hope everyone enjoys it as much as we know we are going to.”

For programme details check out www.thelit.eu or contact Waterford Youth Arts on 051-879377

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