New publication celebrates ten years of Ilkley Literature Festival group of young writers

ILKLEY Literature Festival is proud to announce the launch of a new publication celebrating ten years of its Young Writers group.

To mark this milestone anniversary, Words Hanging Off Trees is a collection of works featuring 30 young writers and bandleaders past and present. Available for pre-order now, it covers topics like identity, love, fictional creatures, and more.

Established in 2011, the group has since offered youth in grades 8-13 the chance to be inspired, write, create, and learn with like-minded peers.

Young writers shared, practiced and refined their craft under the guidance of published poets, authors, playwrights and creative facilitators. These include Michelle Scally Clarke, Becky Cherriman and Sai Murray.

From poetry to prose, songwriting to playwriting and monologues to short stories, they have covered a range of art forms and genres over the years. Beyond the act of writing, the sessions also covered performance skills and breathing exercises, giving young people the confidence to carry out their work and take their writing to the stage.

Michelle Scally Clarke was one of the group’s creative leaders from 2011 to 2021. She worked alongside “greats” such as Linton Kwesi Johnson, Benjamin Zephaniah and Poet Laureate Simon Armitage.

“This anthology is a celebration and a testimony, a voice, of young writers from Bradford and Ilkley. This beautiful collection of poetry and prose inspires you,” said Scally Clarke.

Developed and compiled throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the young writers met on zoom with the group’s creative leaders to develop the title, themes and concept for the books. They also worked on a group poem.

Frankie Wills, a young writer from 2015 to 2019, is currently completing a BA in English at the University of Nottingham. “Young Writers provided a safe space for me to grow both as a writer and as a person. I was able to be myself in a way that I found difficult in school.

She went on to say, “I know I wouldn’t have half the confidence I have today if I hadn’t decided to go to that first tasting session. I will always be grateful for the wonderful memories.

Erica Morris, Director of the Ilkley Literature Festival, said: “We are delighted to be able to celebrate this milestone through commissioning the anthology. The quality of the work produced by our young writers is there for everyone.

The anthology is available for pre-order now:

To view the anthology: