The Rock Retreat was asked to collaborate in the events that Accord Literary (run by Sarah Odedina co-creator of The Rock Retreat 2022) is hosting in Ghana this year. Accra is Unesco World Book Capital in 2023 and Westside School’s English department has been honoured to be a part of this brilliant residency sponsored by Gibraltar Cultural Services and the Kusuma Trust. Twelve young people from our school, ranging from Year 7 to Year 13, took part this year in the Rock Retreat and Accord Literary Young Writers’ Competition. All pupils submitted a piece of writing and were selected for the 3 day workshops that were held locally on the 23rd, 24th and 25th February.
The Rock Retreat’s goal is “to link up junior writers to create a joyful and creative writing group to share the writing journey with a cohort of writing peers from around the world.” They are working with schools in Accra, Bermuda and Gibraltar to offer young writers the opportunity to create work and share their ideas in this exciting writing competition. Their aim was to work with young writers across all genres from fiction to poetry, non-fiction to graphic novels.
Throughout the February workshops the Accord Literary and The Rock Retreat shared tutorials, class guides, and writing aides with pupils, with a focus on the tools needed to enjoy this writing challenge and “to help unleash the creative writing bug in children everywhere”. Our pupils were treated to online tutorials, in person workshops and zoom meetings with writers such as poet Benjamin Zephaniah, local writer Jonathan Pizarro and cartoonist Gary Northfield to explore and discuss the wonderful potential of story telling, the power of stories and why we need to share our stories with one another.
Angelika Bosco, Year 12, was one of eight recipients of a trophy award; these recipients have been chosen from all submissions from all pupils, across all participating countries. Her piece was brilliantly received by the judges of The Rock Accord Young Storytellers Prize 2023 and her prize winning entry “The Old and The New” stood out. She was awarded a trophy and a certificate designed by Eleanor Dobbs, Gibraltar’s 2023 Cultural Ambassador. Angelika’s work will also be included in the Rock Accord Anthology to be published later this year.
Angelika’s writing garnered the following praise from the judges:
“The author has really stepped into her characters’ shoes to give them authentic voices and to raise some really interesting ideas about what divides and connects different generations.” Ele Fountain
“You have a strong sense of place in your work and your descriptions of people allow the reader to see them clearly. I like how you tied in the idea of an old work of poetry and how that reaches across the generations to be something precious. I am a big fan of both Shelleys, so you had my attention and understanding!” Jonathan Pizarro
“I especially enjoyed the way this story unfolds and the lessons the old man imparts to the narrator.” Ayesha Harruna Attah
Our Head Student Year 12 pupil, Eva De Vincenzi, and one of our Year 8 pupils, Anali Ressa Moreno, were also in receipt of a certificate of congratulations and recognition for their writing. Their work will also be included in the Rock Accord Anthology to be published later this year.
The Rock Accord will be at The British Council in Accra on Saturday the 27th May and will be going live to introduce these writers’ highly accomplished written and illustrated responses and the prize topics. This will be happening at 5pm and our pupils will be joining the festivities via Zoom link.
Commenting on their success, Minister for Education and Culture John Cortes said: “I am really pleased at this coming together of Education and Culture, and particularly of the success of these young writers. This is precisely what we want to promote as we encourage Gibraltarian writing and Gibraltarians to write. I wish these young writers every success now and in the future.”