Shortlist Toggle
News I’m Every Single One of Us: A talk by David Almond

I will always remember reading ‘Skellig’ at a primary school. There was one particular section of the story where Skellig requests order numbers ‘27 and 53’ (spring rolls and pork char sui) from the local Chinese takeaway. The way the food was described made every eight year old in the room really want lunchtime to be that bit closer. When I told Skellig’s author, David Almond about this, he divulged that the book is actually set in Heaton and I realised that I had, at one point, lived just around the corner from where the story took place.

As part of the Great North Greats exhibition at Gateshead Stadium, David gave a number of talks to local primary school children about the processes he goes through when writing his stories and poems. In 2014 David was commissioned to create a poem that would be recited during the Great North Run Million opening ceremony, a poem that would truly represent the people and the culture of the North East. As a local boy, David had grown up in Felling and regularly refers to the surrounding areas within his stories.

It became apparent that, as well as being a great writer, David was in his element speaking with a younger audience. Throughout his presentation he referred to his hometown and surrounding areas as being places full of inspiration, a notion that these days seems under threat. By asking the children, one by one, what their favourite place in the North East was, David allowed them to reflect upon what their hometown meant to them and how, through creative activities such as writing, they could demonstrate to others that the North East is not just another part of ‘The North’.

David went on to discuss the processes that are involved when writing a story. Again, he asked the children what they believed a story should ‘look like’ and what the image of a ‘book’ meant to them. Many of the children were surprised when David showed them his ‘sketch book’, full of colours, quotations and corrections that, over time, become the stories that so many people around the world have come to love. By demonstrating the way he forms ideas and creates stories, David illustrated how writing isn’t just about sitting down and typing, it’s about experiencing, exploring and observing.

Throughout the day, the interplay between David and the schoolchildren made the talks he gave truly great experiences. Although they were primarily targeted at school children, everyone in the room, child or adult, gained an insight into the mind of a Great North Great.

Great North Greats, the exhibition is at Gateshead Stadium throughout June and July 2015 and is entirely free of charge.

Words by Alastair Reach.



This site uses JavaScript to enhance operation. There may be cases in which content does not operate normally or pages cannot be displayed if JavaScript has been disabled. Please be sure to activate JavaScript when using this site.