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Jenni Pascoe and Tom Kelly start a residency at The Word....

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Two writers are to take up residency at a leading North East cultural venue as it prepares to celebrate the written word.

The WRITE Festival will launch on 12 May at The Word, National Centre for the Written Word, at South Shields, heralding a two-week programme of workshops, events and activities for all ages.

And the venue – which has attracted more than a million visitors since it opened last year -   has announced that Tom Kelly and Jenni Pascoe will be its new writers in residence.

Jarrow-born poet and playwright, Tom, worked as a drama lecturer at South Tyneside College for 25 years before concentrating on creative writing projects and writing full time.

During his three-month residency at The Word he will work with young people from South Tyneside to write a series of short stories inspired by Our Town.

He will also launch his own short story collection Behind The Wall, which features 12 stories set in North East England with titles including The Running Boy, Mother Teresa of Jarrow and Elsie Rides Again.

His time at The Word will then culminate in a presentation on 19 May when he will showcase his work.

He will also be joined by Ian Ravenscroft and Ted Cuskin – otherwise known as singing group Men of the Tyne – for a performance of songs about the river and the men who built ships on the Tyne.

In addition, Jenni Pascoe will be The Word’s Poet in Residence from mid-March working with various groups to develop their poetry skills.

In the coming weeks she will be hosting four workshops for aspiring amateur poets to build upon their poetry slam skills and performance techniques, so they can compete in a special poetry slam.

The amateur slammers will take to the stage at The Stags Head, South Shields, to show off their skills and one will ultimately be crowned the winner through an audience vote.

Tom Kelly’s residency presentation will take place on Saturday 19 May, from 11am -1pm and is free to attend.

The poetry slam workshops with Jenni Pascoe will take place on 7 April, 28 April and 19 May, between 11am and 12.30pm and tickets cost £3.50 per person per session. Suitable for ages 18+.

The final poetry slam will take place at The Stags Head on Thursday 24 May, from 7.30pm to 9.30pm with tickets priced at £3 per person.

For further information about The WRITE Festival, and to book tickets, visit

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