The Pamela Lofts Bequest for Literacy and Learning provides a mentorship and publishing program for young Indigenous writers.
Earlier this year we facilitated the first part of the program as three accomplished Indigenous authors mentored 8 young writers in Alice Springs. The young writers were from communities across central Northern Territory and as far north as Eva Valley, and Broome in Western Australia. Out of the week-long writing camp, the secondary age group of students produced multiple pieces of writing including short stories, poems and non-fiction recounts.
For the second part of the program, we partnered with HarperCollins to take the writers through the publishing process. Last week, the students had the experience of working with a publisher, Chren Byng, who showed them how to transform their stories into a book. During this time they illustrated, produced bios and learned a little about how to design their book.
With technology at hand and a 1½ hour time difference, the artwork and feedback was sent back to designers at HarperCollins. After three days, the book was complete. The student's eyes lit up as they were shown page proofs and could see their stories in a book format. A sense of pride and achievement was evident amongst the group.
'Writing these stories was a good experience. I enjoy writing stories that use my imagination'
Mark, 13 Years Old, Eva Valley NT
The new book, Yirara Mix Book is a collection of 24 short stories and poems. 80 students, teachers and other community members had a sneak peek and were shown the cover and internal pages at the college assembly at the end of the week. The writers’ peers celebrated their achievements with a round of applause and cheer.
Yirara Mix Book will be published shortly and copies will be gifted to the students, their communities and school.
'I write for fun. I like writing about adventure and the land. My grandmother and grandfather are good storytellers who shared stories about their lives'
Melton, 15 Years Old, Hermansburg NT
This group of special young writers is the first to be part of the Pamela Lofts Bequest for Literacy & Learning. Next year, a new group of young writers will participate in the program.