For several years now North Cornwall Book Festival has featured a readings and prize-giving event for the Charles Causley Young People’s Poetry Prize, of which I’m the patron but inevitably, as a prose writer and novelist, I felt something was missing. So it was a delight to be able to showcase the results of the Young Walter Scott Prize workshops alongside the prizewinning poetry this year. It was evident that Steph Haxton’s workshops with the young writers had been hugely worthwhile. The work produced was incredibly varied, energetic and richly imagined and it was lovely to see some evident pride as the writers took to the stage in turn to read their work out to a pretty big audience.
The combination of Cornwall’s remoteness and its pretty desperate poverty mean that its state schools get all too little in the way of either live literature events, field trips or the chance to produce imaginative work outside the confines of the national curriculum. I would dearly love to see more workshops like these rolled out in the county, not least because I think the teachers benefit from them as much as their students.