Fighting Words helps youngsters to find their way
Seán Love and Roddy Doyle, founders of the Fighting Words project, on the power of writing
Some of the young writers whose work features in Fighting Words 2017. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times
Helping children and young people to discover and harness the power of their imaginations and creative skills is what Fighting Words is all about. For some, that clears a path for them to become creative writers now or later as a career. For many others, it helps them to develop the self-awareness, skills and motivation to tap into their own creative talents throughout their lives in whatever careers or interests they pursue.
Evidence shows that participants in Fighting Words demonstrate increased levels of engagement not just with creative writing, but with the whole school experience leading to increased motivation, self-confidence, self-esteem, recognition of and pride in creative ability, a greater ability to work collaboratively and improved literacy.
Fighting Words is a unique and impactful free resource for mentoring young writers in Ireland. Using a participative, stimulating workshop model, it encourages and nourishes young writers and quality writing – but it achieves much more than that. Because, at its core, Fighting Words is also about something much broader and more inclusive: it is about using the creative practice of writing and storytelling to strengthen our children and teenagers to be resilient, creative and successful at shaping their own lives.
This 2017 Irish Times collection of new writing by young people is the seventh edition of this award-winning project.
As in previous years, the quality of the writing is breathtaking. The pieces included are simply a selection – a wonderful selection – from the hundreds of pieces submitted. At Fighting Words the young writers are the artists.
We want them to express themselves as well as they can. We want them to invent, to command and to enjoy their language. We want them to own their own words and expressions. We want them to make the most of their imaginations, their humour, their fears.
We want them to see changing their minds as a positive decision, to accept failure as an opportunity to start again.
We want to acquaint them with the joy and anxiety, the elation and doubt, the little triumphs and frustrations, the hard work and effortless inspiration – all the clashing things that experienced writers recognise as their constant companions.
We do all this at Fighting Words by telling them that they are writers, by insisting on it. It’s as simple as that.
Many thousands of children and teenagers from around the country have participated in free creative writing workshops and programmes since we opened in January 2009. Fighting Words is eight years in existence and there are now six outlets around the country – in Dublin, Belfast, Mayo, Wicklow, Cork and Galway. We are very proud to include stories from around the country in this collection.
We continue to be vastly oversubscribed. Volunteer tutors are the lifeblood of Fighting Words and thankfully there are hundreds of them. We also receive tremendous support through creative collaborations with many of Ireland’s finest arts and media organisations.
Our single collective purpose is to provide the opportunity for as many children as possible to engage with creative writing and related arts.
If you would like to help fund our work or simply to find out more about Fighting Words, the contact details are below.
As always, we are immensely grateful to The Irish Times, and to Conor Goodman in particular, for providing such a prestigious platform for Ireland’s young writers.
Seán Love & Roddy Doyle
Education Coordinator: Jean Hanney
Fighting Words Belfast
Young at Art, Cotton Court,
30-42 Waring Street, Belfast, BT1 2ED
Fighting Words Mayo
The National Museum of Ireland – Country Life
Fighting Words Wicklow
Fighting Words Cork
Fighting Words Galway