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Jesus and New College announce support for “Thinking Black” creative writing prize

Elena Rotzokou reports.

Jesus College and New College have announced their intention to collaboratively support Thinking Black’s 2022 Creative Writing Prize.

The writing competition, which is part of Thinking Black’s Year 10 creative writing course, is launching in March 2022 and is targeted at Black British Year 10 students. Providing participants with a prompt, the course asks them to respond in the form of writing they engage with the most. This year’s prompts are:

Folk Tales – African and Caribbean Writing

Windrush – Post-War Migration Literature

The Diaspora – Contemporary Black British Writing

Writing Fundamentals – Poetry, Prose & Drama

Dr. Matt Williams, Jesus College’s Access Fellow, views the college’s sponsorship as an inroad into making higher education in Britain more equitable: “We are delighted to be working with Thinking Black and New College on this new creative writing. It is essential that the University of Oxford and its colleges work towards widening participation of Black British students in higher education. Thinking Black do such tremendous work with young students and it is our privilege to support them.”

Daniel Powell, New College’s Head of Outreach has stated: “We are very pleased to be supporting such an important initiative. We are proud to be a College that is fully committed to widening participation to university, and recognise the importance of these sorts of activities to increasing aspirations and ambitions of students from under-represented backgrounds.”

Thinking Black is a social enterprise founded in 2017 in an effort to equip young Black British people with transferable academic, communication, and leadership skills that allow them to evolve into successful leaders. It has supported over 200 Black British students over the years and is already being sponsored by Oxford’s Pembroke College. Its current administrative team consists of eight Oxford students and graduates.

At the moment, Thinking Black supports four programmes, each one tailored to a specific age group from Year 8 to Year 10 and focused on one of the following areas: art history, public speaking, essay writing, and creative writing.

As participants in the programmes, students enjoy access to lectures, discussion groups, and skill-oriented workshops, as well as a syllabus of books, articles, and music by Black thinkers. Black university students and graduates mentor participants to assist them in producing a researched piece of work on a topic of their choice, for which they can receive a cash prize or which they can get published. They also have the opportunity to attend a Celebration Day at Oxford University.

Hope Oloye, Director of Thinking Black and an alumna of Pembroke College at Oxford, has spoken about the Year 10 programme New and Jesus College support: “We’re so glad to be launching our new Creative Writing Prize in partnership with New College and Jesus College. The programme provides young Black students across the country with the opportunity to attend high-level lectures, access diverse works of Black literature, and formulate written responses. Students will be rewarded for their work with cash prizes and publication in an online anthology. We can’t wait to get started!”

Thinking Black’s website states that the programme aims to enable participants to “cultivate a more personal relationship with writing.”

Image: Bencherlite / CC BY-SA 3.0

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