Yesterday’s release of the ‘We’ve Missed You’ campaign and its ‘By The Clock Tower’ poem – the focus of the European Regional Development Fund’s (ERDF) Reopening High Streets Safely ‘We’ve Missed You’ campaign managed by Leicester City Council – has inspired a community creative writing challenge, which launches today and seeks thirty amateur poets from the city to get involved.

The free, poetry masterclasses, which will be led by the city’s Curve theatre, will help hone the talents of budding poets and talented wordsmiths across Leicester in a series of online masterclasses that focus on creating community-led poetry that celebrates the diversity, resilience, and individuality of the people of Leicester – and the optimism they share as normality starts to return.

Curve’s creative writing workshops will feature celebrated homegrown poets, Akshay ‘Mr Shay’ Sharma and Ty’rone Haughton, and are free to access, as part of the city’s multi-layered ‘We’ve Missed You’ campaign, which runs for six weeks.

The online workshops will help develop the creative writing skills of the participating individuals, and see each poet contribute to a collaborative piece of work that will be performed, filmed and presented to the city in an exhibition at Curve in June, in time for National Writing Day on June 23rd, as well as featured across social media platforms.

It is a chance to be part of the city’s history as the poems will create a body of work of historical importance that will be a legacy to future generations, as they look back on Leicester in lockdown.

The collaborative masterclasses are open to anyone living in Leicester aged over 18 and will take place weekly over Zoom throughout May and June.  Places on these four practical workshops are free, but with just 30 spaces available, demand is expected to be high, so offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Creative writers unable to attend are still invited to get involved.  They can submit poetry inspired by the ‘By The Clock Tower’ poem, or the We’ve Missed You messaging, telling their own stories of lockdown; describing what they’ve missed during the last 14 months, what the last 14 months have meant to them and, perhaps more importantly, what they’re excited about enjoying again now that normality is beginning to return.

To support this creative writing challenge, a resource pack will be produced by Curve to inspire writing groups and individuals to create their own piece of work.  This guide will assist them in crafting a unique and personal poetic response to what has been, for many, one of the most challenging and thought-provoking times of their life.

Many of these poems will be included in the exhibition.

Poet and workshop leader, Akshay ‘Mr Shay’ Sharma (pictured) said; “I’m really excited to be working with Leicester’s communities to inspire poetic creativity. It’s going to be fascinating to see the variety of responses to our creative challenge!”

Poet and workshop leader, Ty’rone Haughton added; “As a poet from a Leicester, I am really looking forward to the stories, experiences and perspectives of the participants. We’re going to have heaps of fun collaborating and sharing ideas with each other. Finding the collective voice of people from all over Leicester; what a way to tell a tale of our beautiful city”.

This initiative is funded by the ERDF Reopening High Streets Safely grant and is part of the Leicester City Council ‘We’ve Missed You’ campaign.

Running over six-weeks until the end of June, the campaign welcomes residents, businesses and visitors back into the city supporting our local high streets and feeling good in our communities in a safe and responsible way.  It features, at the heart of it, the simple messaging that ‘We’ve Missed You’ and ‘We Welcome You’.

To register your interest on the Poetry Masterclass, visit  https://www.curveonline.co.uk/community-creative-writing-challenge/
Applications for the workshops close at noon on the 21st May 2021.
To find out more about the We Missed you Campaign visit www.visitleicester.info
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