Saturday, 16 November 2013

'Kite Spirit' Long-Listed for The UKLA 2014 Book Award

Why I'm so delighted that 'Kite Spirit' has been long-listed for the UKLA award.

 Before writing novels for young people, I spent a great deal of my life in schools working with teachers to create arts Education projects with young people. The emphasis on creativity and self-fulfilment in 'Kite Spirit' reflects some of this work. The book also focuses on the important role of teachers and those who work in pastoral care in schools,  in helping young people through what can be some very great challenges.

Our teenage years are the the most intense of our lives. The proliferation of social media has added new pressures that can have a devastating affect on teenagers sense of self. Like the character of Dawn in 'Kite Spirit,' the failure for young people to speak when the pressures they face (whatever these may be) become overwhelming can and does lead to truly tragic ends. When I visit schools to talk about 'Kite Spirit' I hold writing workshops with young people to encourage them to explore the themes of the book . This A - Z in response to the question...

'What does the world expect you to be?' reveals how deeply young people feel the pressures of life and respond to themes of flying and falling in 'Kite Spirit'.

As Alessandra Marsoni (Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist, working for the Tavistock and Portman Foundation NHS Trust) commented  after reading 'Kite Spirit':
'There is something very evocative in imagining the power of the kite, its spirit: there is a good spirit, when the kite flies confidently through the sky, its direction clearly determined by the wind. There can also be a bad spirit;  the kite soars frantically through the sky, all direction lost.  We all have both spirits in ourselves, one, to use Wordsworth’s words,  “enables us to mount...and lifts us when fallen”, the other one brings us down with a “deadly weight”.

Young people, beginning to grapple with life and its complexities, are particularly prone to experiencing both states of mind. The fall can be so overwhelming as to obliterate the idea of a recovery, the kite ever flying again; or it can be seen as a painful stage which can be overcome. Through the story of Kite and Dawn, Sita Brahmachari vividly illustrates these two possibilities: Dawn experienced Wordsworth’s “deadly weight” so powerfully,  she felt so alone with it, unable to speak, that death appeared like the only solution. By contrast, Kite, is able, thank to the support of her family and her friends, to go through the turmoil, the fall, but also to come out of it. Young people, like Kite and Dawn, have a lot to contend with, internally and externally (pressure of exams, university, finding a job...). The capacity to seek help, that of friends and family in the first instance but , at times, also professional help, is vital. As Sita writes in her initial note to the reader, “no matter how hard the fall there is always someone who can have the courage to speak”.
Alessandra Marsoni : Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist, working for the Tavistock and Portman Foundation NHS Trust.

That the UKLA  recognise that 'Kite Spirit' can  help to explore this sensitive subject, is a great affirmation of what I set out to do when I wrote 'Kite Spirit'.    

A 'Kite Spirit' gallery ( which will house student writing) is being created as part of a  Pop Up Festival 2014 commission which ends its tour in London's Central St Martin's School of Arts and Design, Kings X:  on 12th and 13th July 2014

To sign up for information about this interactive three venue Literary festival featuring 'Kite Spirit'  and  commissions by many other writers... follow this link: