Leyla Josephine: Our New Schools Writer in Residence

Poet appointed as Citizen brings us to new schools and communities in Musselburgh


Leyla Josephine has been appointed as our new Schools Writer in Residence for Citizen, the next phase of the year-round programme taking the Book Festival On The Road. Citizen is a long-term creative programme working in partnership with organisations in and around Edinburgh, listening to people’s views about the communities in which they live. Led by Scottish-based writers-in-residence, Citizen aims to provide a platform for communities to explore their connection to each other and their relationship to their local area, looking at how local conversations are heard or echoed on a national or global level.

Noëlle Cobden, Communities Programme Director at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said “We are delighted to have Leyla joining us as a key artistic lead for Citizen in 2020. Leyla is a talented and socially-engaged writer, performer and facilitator, who will be an inspirational presence for both the young people involved in Citizen and the wider Book Festival team. Leyla’s collaborative approach and desire to question the status quo, as well as her ability to deliver high quality artistic experiences, will greatly enhance the project.”

Leyla, a poet and award-winning theatre maker from Glasgow, will work with a host of fellow writers, musicians, illustrators and other artists to inspire community members and school pupils to tell their stories of life in their areas, and share their views on community, home and their relationship to the wider world.  Leyla spends most of her time teaching poetry workshops in which she encourages others to find their voice. She works in various different social contexts to create original, autobiographical performance and poetry collaboratively with all ages and backgrounds. In her work she attempts to present new narratives and asks difficult questions to challenge the social structures we find ourselves within.

Leyla Josephine said “I'm super excited to get started on this project and to become part of the Citizen team. I am looking forward to working collaboratively with local schools to gather stories and poems from the pupils about the place that they live. I think the outskirts of cities are rich soil for stories both personal and mythical - I can't wait to hear them. We'll be working towards finding an exciting way of presenting all that we create and gather to the public.”

A book festival will be held in North Edinburgh Arts and the Brunton Theatre in May 2020, which brings together the ideas developed across the previous eighteen months of the programme. Citizen will continue until August 2021 and will draw in communities in and around Musselburgh with the support of the Brunton Theatre.

Citizen is part of Edinburgh International Book Festival On The Road, a series of events and activities around Scotland throughout the year, and is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and through the PLACE Programme (funded by the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council, and the Edinburgh Festivals, and supported and administered by Creative Scotland).

Edinburgh International Book Festival has received over £1.4 million from players of People’s Postcode Lottery since the partnership started in 2014. Spokesperson Hazel Johnstone from the charities team said: “I’m delighted that players of People’s Postcode Lottery have been able to support the Edinburgh International Book Festival with over £1.4 million in funding. It’s great to have the Book Festival every August in Charlotte Square Gardens but I absolutely love that support from players is taking the Festival to different parts of Scotland throughout the year, it really is so special.”

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