Bridging Literary Divides is a mentoring programme which aims to empower people through writing and to increase literary representation of authors from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. The programme seeks to support aspiring writers from socially disadvantaged backgrounds whose voices are currently under-represented in literature.
By pairing up mentees with experienced authors and literary agents, we aim to boost their confidence and develop their writing skills to publishing standard. At the same time, the mentoring will expand mentees’ writing portfolios by supporting submissions to competitions, magazines and other creative outlets.
The writing mentoring lasts for six months and is currently open to applications. If you would like to find out more about becoming a mentee, and wish to apply, please visit here. Over time we aim to widen under-represented voices in literature by connecting mentees with agents and publishers, as well as cross-exhibiting their work.
Bridging Literary Divides is a programme run by the Arkbound Foundation, a charity based in Glasgow. Our purpose is to support people from a range of diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds develop their writing and get published.
Since being founded in 2015, Arkbound has published an impressive selection of works from marginalised voices, demonstrating our vital contribution to an industry that is well known to struggle markedly with equalities.
We have also previously delivered successful mentoring initiatives in both creative writing and journalism (the latter of which was a lead project funded by the Council of Europe). Through our workshops and mentoring, we have reached people who would otherwise be excluded and communities who face multiple levels of deprivation – building skills, improving capacity and creating new opportunities.
Our ethos is one of sharing and collaboration, which has allowed us – despite being a small charity in receipt of minimal funding – to deliver a range of projects, from tree planting to national writing competitions. As well as supporting books that cover important social and environmental themes, we like to creatively explore ideas outside of the mainstream, including new socio-economic models (www.arkbound.ac.uk) and grassroots initiatives that build on local resilience and self-sufficiency.
The Bridging Literary divides mentoring programme is funded with the support of Creative Scotland and enables the employment of six mentors with experienced writing skills. Each mentor will be matched with up to two mentees, with their work being developed across a period of six months. There are no set expectations for mentees: some may need help with finessing their writing skills; for others it may be around building confidence and contacts in the industry.
Whatever the case, over time we will encourage and support mentees to build their writing portfolios, whether that be submitting to competitions, other media, or working on a book proposal with an agent or publisher. Working with their mentors, they will hone their writing skills and gain knowledge of the publishing industry. At the end of the mentoring, we hope to see some become published authors, freelance writers, journalists, editors and proofreaders.
The programme is open to anyone living in Scotland aged over 16, who has identified as experiencing social exclusion or being from a disadvantaged background. Please visit Apply to find out more.
The six mentors for this project are published authors and experienced
literary agents. We have been careful to ensure that mentors don’t just have professional literary
and publishing experience, but also have a background in tutoring individuals, both from
disadvantaged circumstances and otherwise. Arkbound is ensuring that our mentors will be fully
supported and managed by our core team. As part of our training for the group, we will be
providing an introduction to, and digital training of our safeguarding policy and working with
vulnerable adults. Our mentor group consists of:
Richard is an experienced literary agent at Curtis Brown literary agency, and has worked with authors to develop their writing and match them up with publishers and literary agents. He is very interested in widening the representation of writers from marginalised backgrounds.
Madeleine has years of experience as a tutor, and has taught students from the levels National 4 to Advanced Higher in English. She has tutored over the last three years in Edinburgh, and is highly passionate about teaching her students how to put pen to paper.
After a degree in Creative Writing at California State University Long Beach, Kayla found herself completing a PhD in Medieval Studies at the University of Leeds. She fell in love with the enigmatic medieval tales during her first degree and wanted to help highlight marginalised voices from the past. She joined Arkbound to reconnect with her creative side and help others hone their voices and bring their unique stories to life.
Matthew Azoulay is proud to take the name of the published and award-nominated surrealist poet Daphnee Azoulay, whom he is now married to. He has been writing creatively with a passion since pre-school. He is proficient in writing short stories and poetry, as well as serious political and activism-themed articles and blog posts. He loves mentoring other writers, partly because they teach him to be a better writer and partly because he is determined to help democratise the publishing industry.
Thomas Pia is a fourth-year politics student at the University of Glasgow with a strong interest in charitable work and projects to improve the lives of impoverished children through education and sport. Before enrolling at university, he volunteered for two years with the Jabulani Project, teaching the Inspiring Purpose programme at two high schools in Umlazi Township, South Africa, and since moving to Glasgow he has worked as a paired mentor in primary schools for Scotland Reads and as a virtual mentor for the Arkbound Foundation during the pandemic. He is also a keen writer with short stories published in a range of journals including The Blue Nib Literary Magazine, New Contrast Literary Magazine and Lunch Ticket.
Jim works as a fiction editor through his company, Novel Gazing. Throughout his career, he has tried to apply his knowledge and experience to support aspiring authors and promote diversity in publishing. Bridging Literary Divides gives him the opportunity to continue to share skills and expertise with talented authors.