Teachers’ 204 Participants 2016/17

Here are the writers who are part of our Teachers’ 204 Writer Development Programme 2016/17:

Shona Currieshona-currie
Shona Currie is a writer and teacher primarily writing long form fiction, although she also enjoys writing short stories. She lives in Birmingham and teaches A level English full-time at King Edward’s Sixth Form College in Stourbridge. She leads two writers’ groups at the college and enjoys helping many of her students to take their first steps into the world of writing through the creative writing elements of the specification.

Shona was an active member of the Pow Wow Writers’ Group in Moseley for several years, a fact she claims is responsible for her eventual completion of her first novel. Her short ghost story, ‘Making the Roses Grow Straight’ was published in the Pow Wow Book of Ghost Stories in December 2014 for charity. In 2013, she worked with NATE (National Association of Teachers of English) to set up a writing group specifically targeted at teachers, helping them to explore their own creativity. Shona completed her first novel for young adults in 2014 and received encouraging feedback after submitting the manuscript for consideration.

She is now working on her second novel, a comic fantasy involving a secret worldwide organisation with an uncompromising mission, and she is relishing the challenge of writing comedy – a new genre for her.

Mary Ellen Flynnmary-ellen-flynn
Mary Ellen Flynn’s first experience with writing was at the burgeoning performance poetry scene in Chicago in the 1990’s. Since then she has written poetry and fiction with themes as disparate as family, history and dystopian landscapes.

She has published poetry and short stories in small publications and is in the process of re-writing a draft of a novel. From 2012-2015, she was a regular member of the Pow-Wow Writers Group in Moseley and it is there she learned what it really meant to write. She was also a member of the planning committee of the Pow-Wow Festival of writing 2013-2014 and was its chair in 2015.

Aside from writing Mary Ellen has taught English in the Czech Republic, US and UK since 1996. Currently, she teaches secondary English at a special school in Birmingham.

Tizzie Frankishtiz
After having spent most of her 20’s travelling and studying or travelling to study, Tizzie settled back in her home town of Coventry and into a 15 year career in Further Education; teaching ESOL, English and assessing learners with Dyslexia. She currently works as a Specialist Tutor at a University and alongside supporting learners with SpLD she gets a fascinating insight into all the subjects she hasn’t got around to studying.

Tizzie writes for children and is a member of both the National Association of Writers in Education and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She has dabbled in poetry and picture books and had some short stories published in anthologies, before working with an agent for her young fiction stories. Her works are often humorous, character driven stories and more often than not include animals; even if she starts out thinking they won’t. When she isn’t writing, she’s thinking, reading or completing courses on it; the only time her mind is writing free is when she’s living in her make believe worlds or doing yoga in this one.

Her passion for writing has taken her into schools to read her work, participate in poetry week and collaborate with schools for the Wicked Young Writer’s competition. In 2015 she founded Mighty Writers, which evolved from the need to offer non-sporting workshops in schools to encourage children to use their imagination and develop creative thinking skills. She also contributes to the Middle Grade Strikes Back website and is an Assistant Writer for Birmingham Spark Young writers.

Jack Gayler

Najma Hushnajma
Najma Hush, Master of Creative Arts; a published poet and photographer, who also combine’s her visual, written and vocal skills to create poetry videos, which she terms ‘Poetography’, a concept which she has continued to develop since her first exhibition as a ‘Poetographer’ at Walsall Arts Festival (Dec, 2014). Subsequently, her most recent work was shortlisted as a finalist for Best Overall Production and Best Smartphone Production and screened at The Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival (USA, 2016).

A former artist in residence at Arts4ArtSake Gallery (Custard Factory, 2013) and a former Poet in Residence at Mapseeker Publishing Studio and Art Gallery (Aldridge, 2014), she has had her Photographic works exhibited in various locations around the West Midlands, whilst also organising her own monthly ‘Exhibition for Exhibitionists’, events (2013/2014) providing a platform for many poets and musicians to perform their material, at the opening of her photography exhibitions.

Having worked in countless schools with vulnerable children on various multi-disciplinary arts projects in the past, Hush presently works with vulnerable adults as a Performing Arts teacher for a large charitable organisation and their local partners.

To read and view samples of her poetic work visit: www.phosphorescence1001.wordpress.com.

Katy Knight

Findlay Mackinnonfindlay
Findlay is a 46 year old English teacher who lives in Stourbridge. Although not a native of the West Midlands he has been living and teaching here for 18 years, enjoying all that the area has to offer with relish. His career started as a factory worker in 80’s Irvine, Ayrshire before studying in Glasgow where he developed his love affair with English literature. He also has a passion for music, which evolved from his early youth and he is the drummer for the critically acclaimed Scottish band Butcher Boy. Their album React or Die was voted number 93 in the 100 best albums of ‘the noughties’ in The Times.

Acclaimed by Classic Rock magazine and featured in the Birmingham Post, Findlay has played numerous gigs in venues across the West Midlands. Now he is writing poetry and prose and dreams that one day he will be published, fulfilling a long held ambition

Cathy Mark 
Cathy Mark, of Nigerian heritage, was raised in the Middle East and educated in the UK and US. She wrote prolifically in childhood and during her teenage years — poetry and short stories mainly.

In her twenties and early thirties, she focused her attention on her academics and built a career as a secondary school teacher. However, in the last decade, she started writing again seriously. She attained an MA in Creative Writing with distinction from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2010.

To date, she has completed a mini collection of short stories, a full collection of poetry, and a draft of a novel. This year, her poem, ‘The Change’, made the shortlist of sixteen poems in the Creative Future Literary Awards competition. In addition, two of her micro-fictions, ‘The Killing’ and ‘Uncle Blessing’, were published by Commonword in the anthology, Elevator Fiction. She aims to complete and publish her first novel in 2017.

Lynne Voycelynne-voyce
Lynne Voyce, a native of Liverpool, now lives in Birmingham with her husband and daughters where she teaches English in an inner city school. She has had over fifty short stories published and has won many competitions, including Momaya, Flash 500 and Legend. Her first short fiction collection, Kirigami, was published in late 2014 by Ink Tears Press. She also blogs, writes education resources exploring her postgraduate study of educational psychology and delivers writing workshops.

Lynne is currently working on a poetry pamphlet and is nearing the completion of her first novel. In her spare time she likes to walk the dog, read and pursue any cultural activity that presents itself. One day she’ll do Wainwright’s coast to coast walk and learn to speak proper French.

Matthew Warburtonmatthew-warburton
Matthew is a writer, actor, teacher and theatre producer, who trained with the Year Out Drama Company and at Oxford University. He writes primarily for the stage, with original work and adaptations having been performed in London, Edinburgh, Oxford and Stratford on Avon. He has worked in Birmingham with Big Script and is a member of Cucumber Writers, having been attached to the Birmingham Rep as one of Write Away authors.

He is currently working on “Hitting the Wall”, with Heart of Oak Theatre Company, a lo-fi theatrical recreation of an attempt to swim the Irish Channel, which has been on at the Buxton festival, and will next appear at Northern Stage in Newcastle, before a small-scale rural tour. Matthew has also written short stories and radio scripts, and is now collaborating on a film script with Michael Robert Johnson.