Frontcover: volume 8 & 9 short stories and poetry journals

Rip roaring short stories about childhood

Once upon a time, is a classic opening phrase for children’s stories and the adventures they entail. ‘Riptide’ the University of Exeter’s short story journal is publishing two childhood themed anthologies, one of short stories and, for the first time, one of poetry as part of the exetreme imagination a festival of writing for and by young people.

Riptide co-editor Sally Flint, whose own poetry collection is coming out in the autumn, said: “We thought it was about time we tried to do the same thing for poetry that we've been doing for short stories. Poems get pushed into the margins too and so we're setting about putting them centre page."

The collections are for adult readers rather than children, with a focus on the experience of childhood. The editors were keen to avoid any clichés by confronting difficult and important subjects such as bereavement, mental illness, bullying and the bigger questions of a child’s place in the world. The stories and poems are by award winning writers like Julia Copus, Vicki Feaver, Matt Harvey as well as other established and new talent, including graduates and PhD students from the University of Exeter.

Affectionately known to adults for her role in children’s TV, Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE is also an active worker for the welfare, care and education of children and the Vice-President of Barnardo’s. It was fitting that she was invited to provide a foreword for the Riptide short stories, as Chancellor of the University of Exeter and having written over thirty books for both children and adults.

In the foreword she expressed that childhood lasts a lifetime and that whatever happens to you as a child will affect your adulthood. In response to the Riptide anthology itself she wrote of the stories: “They are able to show us back to ourselves as we were, when life was simpler but (even) more confusing and powerless in the face of it, we had to invent new and unlikely powers – dreams and incantations, imaginary allies and hidden hideaways. The editors have brought together stories that also remind us how vulnerable we were as children and that wherever we are in the world, grownups are responsible for making children feel safe and loved.”

As part of the official start of the exetreme imagination festival, Riptide volumes 8 and 9 was launched at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) in Exeter.

A creative writing workshop using RAMM’s exhibitions and artefacts to inspire writing will be led by the editors of Riptide on Thursday 21 February as part of the festival. The aim is to get participants started on and to discuss writing what is memorable and sustainable. In particular the workshop will focus on writing evoked from memories of childhood.

Date: 15 February 2013

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