Foundation of the ‘Literacy Pirates’ Anthology

Inside the Literacy Pirates organisation

‘A Ten-Year Voyage’, insight from inside the Hackney pirate ship.

As part of Roehampton University’s collaboration with Literacy Pirates, the students involved in creating the charity’s ten-year anniversary anthology were welcomed aboard the Hackney ship, to meet the crew and get a sense of what goes on underneath the deck.

From the first steps into the building on Kingsland High, one can see the effort and dedication that the pirate crew put into creating this safe space for children. The wooden barrel-like walls with full bookshelves, the velvet curtain that leads you further into the ‘ship’, the book inspired staircase and the aquarium that hosts a golden fish, all contribute to the magical atmosphere of the place.

Considering the practical side, the Literacy Pirates’ teaching materials can be seen all around, from books to guides and writing prompts, all neatly organised on desks, awaiting volunteers to hand them out and children to use them. The charity aims to improve literacy among children aged from approximately nine to twelve, through creative writing exercises and projects, that they later have the opportunity to see in print. 

The impressive amount of books published by the Literacy Pirates until now includes a variety of genres and formats, worth mentioning is a play and a comic book. The books’ content is as diverse as the authors are, the stories revealing children from all over the world, united because of the sessions they attend with the pirates. Literacy Pirates provides them not only with a space where they learn how to express themselves in writing, and where reading is promoted but also with a space where they can learn from each other and discover new cultures.

Both the magical atmosphere of a ship with bookish Pirates, and the educational and creative activities held there, make the Hackney office a reflection of the charity’s spirit and goals. Pauline Rolland, Sarah Newman, Isha Gadgil, Teodora Hociung and Zuzanna Majkowska hope that their enthusiasm and belief in this project will also be felt in the ten-year anthology that they put together, because more children should get the chance to walk in through the Pirates’ doors and step into the fantastical world of stories.

Creative Writing Soirée: ‘There are some outstanding entries’

Soiree Banner

It’s that time again: undergraduates are preparing for the end of term after an exhausting but stimulating year; the blossoms have started to appear; and the yearly Creative Writing Soirée is just days away.

The Soirée is a showcase for winners of the annual writing competition, and every year a selection from that long list is published by Fincham Press, an anthology edited by writer and faculty member Leone Ross. This year’s anthology will be the sixth in the series, following last year’s collection In Which Dragons Are Real But. It is a night of wine, refreshments, and stories from a diverse pool of aspiring literary talent, as well as contributions from teaching staff, alumni, and guest speaker Aki Schilz, director of The Literacy Consultancy.

Behind every great Soirée is an even greater team of dedicated, hard-working staff and volunteers who make the evening happen. This year, the team consists of Research Fellow Amy Waite, Senior Lecturer David Fallon, the two Fincham Press editorial assistants – myself and Katharine Cheetham – and volunteers from the UR Writing Society, all working together in the lead-up to this year’s event.

These are the people who have been busy selecting readers, booking microphones, printing posters, and making sure there are enough vegetarian options on the menu – generally ironing out the kinks, to ensure an enjoyable night for all.

As the date draws in, David Fallon and Amy Waite took a break in the preparations to talk about how they have been occupying their time.

What is your role in the Soirée?

A.W: Co-organiser…

D.F: This is the first time I’ve been involved in the competition. I’ve been working with Amy on the initial sifting, to select those for the long list, and those who will read their work on the night.

How were the entries?

D.F: The standard is good across the board, which made narrowing them down quite hard. There are some outstanding entries and they were really enjoyable to read. I was impressed with what our department’s Creative Writing students have been producing.

What are you most looking forward to, about the Soirée?

A.W: Reading all of the competition submissions. Working with students and colleagues to create an exciting event.

D.F: I look forward to seeing individual writers bring their work to life. It’s not only about the students winning prizes, but about being involved and getting a sense of fulfilment.

What’s it like seeing students, who wish to be writers, receiving what might be their first public audience ever? 

A.W: Incredible. It’s such a privilege to be able to work with writers at this stage in their career.

D.F: It’s good because I think there is a big difference between completing a piece of work because it’s an assignment and getting [wider] recognition. Literature in a live context is different to being printed on the page; I’m looking forward to the performance side of things in a good, supportive environment.

What’s one thing you’ve enjoyed most, in the planning?

A.W: Reading the submissions is such a fun and rewarding experience. But it’s nerve-wracking trying to order the correct amount of wine and food!

D.F: I enjoyed reading through the material and discussing it with Amy; it’s good fun when you think, ‘Yes, I like this one,’ and you’re both excited about the same text. I mainly work on eighteenth and nineteenth century literature, so it’s nice to read something which is very much from the present day.

What do you think we can expect this year?

A.W: We have a fantastic keynote speaker, and brilliant group of panellists lined up. And the student readers are excellent. It promises to be an engaging and buzzy event, filled with literary discussion and creative expression!

D.F: I don’t know what to expect really. I’m sure the students will do themselves and the university proud. I’m looking forward to being entertained. I also haven’t met many of the students, so it will be interesting to connect the writer to their text.

The Creative Writing Soirée takes place on Wednesday March 27, 6pm to 9pm, in the Portrait Room at Grove House. Tickets are free and can be acquired via Eventbrite.


Out now – The Rook: Citizens of Nowhere

Fincham Press’ first anthology of narrative journalism – The Rook – is now available to buy from the University of Roehampton e-store.


Edited by John Doyle and Juan Pérez González, the collection features journalism by current and former students of the University of Roehampton. Here, they share their unique experiences from all over the world: from the beaches of Bali to the cities of Europe, they reveal the secrets of places such as Russia and Havana, and shed new light on more familiar territory.

They are citizens of the world, traversing land and sea, and trying to find a place they can call their own. A place called Nowhere.

Follow Fincham Press on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for more details of The Rook’s flight.

Issue 2 of The International Journal of James Bond Studies – now available

The International Journal of James Bond Studies logo designed by Rudolf Ammann

The Spring 2018 issue of The International Journal of James Bond Studies is now available online. This issue of the open-access research journal features articles and reviews on all things 007, including an exploration of the geopolitical function of Bond’s train journeys, the relationship between Bond and pirate culture, and the franchise’s use of extreme sports.


Journal editor Dr Ian Kinane says: ‘We’re delighted to publish our second issue of the journal with Fincham Press and to further develop research in the field of James Bond Studies. Within the Department of English and Creative Writing at the University of Roehampton, The International Journal of James Bond Studies continues to enhance our provision of research and teaching in popular literature and culture.’

The journal welcomes submissions on any aspect of the James Bond franchise. Submissions for the second volume are now open!

Don’t forget to interact with the journal on its official Facebook page and Twitter

The gift of insight: Tova Näslund and Charlie-Anne Butterworth

For this holiday period, Selcouth Station have given us the gift of insight. They continue their series on new writers with interviews with two of The Unseen‘s contributors.

The Unseen cover detail

Tova Näslund is the author of “Month of the Rot”, a novel extract featuring in The Unseen. In her interview, she discusses characterisation, role-playing games, and her creative process.

Charlie-Anne Butterworth’s light SF story “Rachel” is the second piece in the anthology. She discusses genre, being published for the first time, and her current project in her interview.

Don’t forget that you can still join in the conversation on social media – follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and share your thoughts with us!