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Meet Story Factory

For over 10 years, Story Factory has been providing creative writing resources to young people in under-resourced communities including a writing centre and schools and holiday programs to engage young people's creativity. As part of the 2024 Festival, Story Factory students and staff run the Poetry Prescriptions booth, providing healing, literary nourishment to soothe whatever ails you. Get to know organisation and what motivates them to foster creativity in young people through writing in this conversation.

How do you introduce writing to young people and what kind of response do you get from them?

We introduce writing in a number of ways, depending on the age of the students, their schools and how engaged they are with reading and writing.

Often we’ll start workshops with brainstorming sessions, drama games and group discussions, which foster a collaborative and supportive environment in which young people can write. This helps to spark ideas in students’ minds and get them into the right headspace to start constructing their own narratives.

We will also often take in other writing for inspiration, particularly work that reflects their worlds and experiences, allowing students to take inspiration from authors who they relate to. We receive an overwhelmingly positive response from both students and teachers. We see students who come back to our workshops again and again, term after term.

How does creative writing impact the young people Story Factory works with?

Creative writing impacts young people in a number of ways. Our programs have been specifically designed to help build writing skills, confidence and creativity, allowing young people to write their own stories and see themselves as authors who have a voice worth sharing with the world.

Having a space to practice creative writing also improves the wellbeing of young people, allowing them to be present in the moment and experience a sense of agency – the feeling that they are in charge of their own narratives. Beyond the classroom, creative writing helps the young people we work with connect with others and fosters a sense of belonging – with their fellow writers, readers, families and wider communities.

What kind of stories do young people want to write these days?

From high school students we’re currently getting a lot of ‘romantasy’, a hybrid genre of romance and fantasy, which students seem to be gravitating towards. We also find that students are very influenced by popular YA books at the moment, which means a lot of dystopian or other realm fiction – forms that allow them to express their values and experiences in their own created worlds.

Primary school students love the opportunity to be very free in their writing, taking the chance to be very silly, slightly ridiculous and downright funny – which is a fantastic blend that’s fun both to write and to read.

What was the inspiration for the Poetry Prescriptions booth?

The Poetry Prescription booth at Sydney Writers’ Festival was part of a way for us to share our student writing with a wider audience. The idea behind the booth is that literature can be medicine: it’s restorative, works to influence people’s wellbeing and allows more people to see all of the incredible work our students produce.

Receiving poetry as a balm for a modern ailment allows people to take a step back, engage in some self-reflection and self-care and hopefully spend more time slowing down and appreciating art and writing in our busy modern world.  

Poetry Prescriptions was wildly popular with audiences at last year’s Festival. What was the experience of the prescribers?

Our Story Factory Poetry Pharmacists had a blast at last year’s Festival! It was fantastic to chat about our programs with such an engaged audience and to be able to share a small part of what our students create in our workshops. We are so excited to be bringing the Poetry Prescription booth back to this year’s festival.  

What can audiences expect from Poetry Prescriptions this year?

Even more poems! We’ve had students from Western Sydney creating cures for ailments big and small in our recent Poetry Prescription workshops and we’re looking forward to sharing them with you all. For a remedy to revitalise your broken heart, a cure for the blister on your heel and everything in between, there’s something for you at Story Factory’s Poetry Prescription Booth.

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