Genesis Jewish Book Week Emerging Writers' Programme

2022/23 Cohort now announced

After a successful inaugural programme, culminating in a full-house event at the 70thanniversary Jewish Book Week in March, the 10 emerging writers for this year have now been selected. Drawn from across the UK, projects will include: a study of dirty money in the art world; poems on the female body in pain; a contemporary update of Thomas Hardy; the story of the four young legal graduates who took on the establishment to allow women to become lawyers in the early 20thCentury; a short collection as told by queer British Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent; and a novel exploring issues of identity, sisterhood and influencer culture.

The emerging writers will receive mentorship from established authors, bursaries of up to £1,500, peer support and specialist seminars. In the category of non-fiction Caroline Gardiner, Tilly Rubens and Aaron Taylor the mentors will be Bidisha, Anne Sebba and Dominic Selwood respectively; in poetry Oakley Flanagan, Rachel Lewis, Amelia Loulli and Natalie Permanwill be mentored by Wayne Holloway-Smith, Ruth Padel, Clare Pollard and Jack Underwood; and for fiction Amy Abrahams, Helen Bain and Leeor Ohayon will work with Charlotte Mendelson, Ashley Hickson-Lovence and Philip Hensher.

About the Genesis Foundation

The Genesis Foundation was founded by John Studzinski CBE in 2001. Over the past 20 years the Foundation has donated more than £20million to the arts. Through its funding and partnership model, it has enabled opportunities for thousands of young artists in theatre and music, building both their experience and their resilience. Its main focus is on partnerships with leading arts organisations such as the Young Vic, National Theatre, Almeida Theatre, LAMDA and The Sixteen, and on training programmes that equip emerging artists for life as a creative professional.

The Genesis Jewish Book Week Emerging Writers also benefit from a generous membership discount from the London Library, allowing them to take advantage of the incredible resources, services and events taking place at this beautiful central London members’ library.


The 2022-2023 Emerging Writers Cohort

 

Amy Abrahams

Amy Abrahams is a freelance journalist who has written for titles including Stylist, Vogue, Glamour, Women’s Health and Red. She also has significant experience sub-editing for a range of national magazines. Amy mostly writes about wellbeing and in 2018 was named Best Health Journalist at the UK Wellness Awards. Last year, she contributed an essay to The Book Of Hope by mental health activist Jonny Benjamin.

Having spent her career writing non-fiction, Amy started to write fiction in secret during the pandemic and is delighted to have been selected for this programme to develop her novel and work with her mentor, Charlotte Mendelson.

She lives in London with her husband and two young children.

Amy’s Writing Project

Emma thinks she’s a nobody. Stella’s already a somebody. A story about two sisters and the events of a long summer that bring them together.

Set against the backdrop of a vibrant North London Jewish family, where much is said but little truly communicated, the novel will explore sisterhood in all its fractious, loving, jealous complexities.

And through these sisters, their family and love interests, through the portal of social media and influencer culture –  promising so much for one sister and estranging the other – and the see-saw of power in relationships, the novel will explore the lengths we go to feel valid in a complicated world.

Community and religion wrap around the sisters’ lives, and the recent surge of antisemitism here and abroad resonates strongly, challenging their connections with each other and the world beyond.

This is a novel about the ways we find – or lose – ourselves, and what can ultimately connect and unite us.

Helen Bain

Helen Bain is a writer and editor from Sussex. In 2021 she won The British Association of American Studies Malcolm Bradbury Award and was shortlisted for The Biographer’s Club Tony Lothian Prize. She is a PhD candidate at King’s College, London, where she also teaches creative writing, and she holds MA degrees in Creative Writing and Modern & Contemporary Literature. She is working on her first novel.

Helen’s Writing Project

This novel is set in a tenanted village – an Estate where tenant farmers still work the land, there is carol-singing every Christmas up at the Hall, and a strict hierarchy of social and financial power presides. It is a world of summer fetes and Harvest festivals, of bitter feuds and never-relinquished betrayals, where farming families sit on the parish council to maintain their control of the land and the inheriting lord struggles to keep the Estate intact in a modern world. It is about beauty and corruption, church and state, love and murder. And as such it acts as a stage where questions of morality and society may be played out.

Oakley Flanagan

Oakley Flanagan is a writer and poet from the West Midlands, by way of Ireland. As a playwright: ‘This Queer House’, VAULT Festival, directed by Masha Kevinovna, produced by OPIA Collective. Their poetry appears in bath magg, Poetry London, Poetry Review, Under the Radar and Wasafiri. Oakley is an alum of Roundhouse Poetry Collective and The London Library Emerging Writer Programme. Their pamphlet is forthcoming with Out-Spoken Press.

https://www.oakleyflanagan.com/

 

Oakley’s Writing Project

The project I’m proposing is a poetry collection exploring three sites of trauma – my childhood growing up in a caravan after my parents lost their home during the financial crash, gay hookup culture and how healing modalities provide alternative models for recovery. I want to take on this challenge to push my practice further, undertaking a project that fosters a better understanding of the themes I write about whilst experimenting with different ways of rendering lyric poetry. The programme will help hone my skills as a poet, affording me the time and space to explore different poetic forms and learn from leading poets and mentors. The programme will also enable me to take more risks in my work and help improve my editing skills.

Caroline Gardiner

Caroline Gardiner has published a novelette for young adults, had poetry featured on London buses, dramatised ghost stories for audio book, and created adventure games for the Natural History Museum.

She’s had short films broadcast on Channel 4, optioned by the BBC, and bought by Tate Modern. She was joint winner of the Jerwood First Film Foundation Prize for screenplays, and long-listed for the Red Planet Screenwriting Prize. Caroline was previously selected for the Spread the Word London Writers’ Awards, and the Penguin Write Now scheme. Her short story, “Home Made”, was recently published in the Dear Damsels Arts Council funded anthology, “So Long As You Write.”

Caroline’s Writing Project

Slow. People shout the word at me in the street. I can’t get out of their way quickly because of my disabilities. Neurodivergent children in my class were labelled as slow and taken out of school.

I’m going on a personal journey to reclaim positive aspects of slowness. Slow movements are growing in popularity, partly in response to the urgent need to address climate change.
I’ll try out Slow Travel, debate with Slow Scientists, and sample Slow Food. I’ll engage in conversations with people like myself, who’ve been told they’re too slow in movement or in thought to function in society. I’ll talk to neuroscientists about possible benefits of slowness, such as the effect of mindfulness on brain activity. Research suggests links between eating slowly and preventing obesity. Could slowness
improve mental and physical health?

Rachel Lewis

Rachel Lewis is a poet and workshop facilitator. She is interested in bringing attention to hidden pain, everyday joys, and love beyond romance. Her first pamphlet exploring eating disorder recovery, ‘Three degrees of separation’, was published in 2019 by Wordsmith HQ. She is currently writing a second collection exploring grief and belonging through her family’s links to the Belfast Jewish community. She is a co-founder of the Writing Happiness Project supporting fellow D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent writers and runs a newsletter on the work of poetry.

Rachel’s Writing Project

I am working on my first poetry collection exploring the stories of my Northern Irish Jewish family. They fled pogroms to start a new life in Belfast and then escaped the Troubles conflict between Catholics and Protestants to begin again in England.
I am probing the silences of a family history occluded by trauma and the need to assimilate. I hope to be the first to tell their stories and to celebrate the Belfast Jewish community which is on the verge of disappearing.

The collection draws on wider questions about grief, heritage, and what it means to belong in the UK today. It also highlights the impact of the Troubles, more relevant than ever given current threats to the Good Friday agreement.

Amelia Loulli

Amelia Loulli is a poet and creative critical PhD student at Newcastle University, where her work has been awarded an AHRC studentship and the Renwick Travel Scholarship 2022 to Rome. In 2021 Amelia won a Northern Writers’ Debut Poetry Award. Her work has been highly commended in the Oxford Brooks International Poetry Competition, longlisted for the Rebecca Swift Foundation’s Women Poets’ Prize and shortlisted for the Bridport Prize four times. A pamphlet of Amelia’s work is published by Nine Arches Press in Primers Volume Four.

Amelia’s Writing Project

Self-Portrait in Pain: My intended project to work on as part of the Genesis Emerging Writers Programme is a pamphlet of new poems exploring the female body in pain. I will look to inspire portions of this work through an ekphrastic practise and the work of visual artist Tracey Emin. I have long been fascinated with the work of Emin and by the potentials of the connections between art and poetry.

In 2021, as part of my MA dissertation, I wrote a sequence of poems and a lyric essay based on my experience in the Tracey Emin and Edward Munch exhibition, ‘The Loneliness of the Soul’. I found this to be a very enriching and moving experience, which allowed me to explore my experiences of motherhood, loss and abortion in new ways. I intend to take a small number of those poems forward as seeds for this new project, which will allow me to research more of Emin’s work and her artistic processes, and to visit her upcoming exhibition ‘I Lay Here for You’ in Edinburgh, which explores the experiences of physical illness, pain and recovery. During this time, I will allow the new knowledge and ephemera I uncover about Emin’s work and the experiences of visiting her sculptures, monotypes, paintings and works on paper, to inform my creation of a pamphlet of poems which will consider the female body, physical pain, and the ways in which we can experience healing.

Leeor Ohayon

Leeor Ohayon is a writer from London based in Norwich, where he is studying for the MA in Creative Writing at the UEA. His work has won the 2021 RSL’s V.S Pritchett Prize and the Leicester Writes Prize and was shortlisted for the Brick Lane Book Shop Prize. Leeor is part of the 2022-2023 London Library Emerging Writers Programme.

 

Leeor’s Writing Project

I will be working on a collection of short stories which will contain 12 interconnected short stories told by queer, third-generation British Jews of Mizrahi descent, set in London and Berlin. The stories are told by minorities-within-minorities-within-minorities living in perpetual exile and estrangement from their communities, families, lovers, and friends. The stories take place in the liminal spaces of their exile, where multifaceted identities and disparate worlds collide and the protagonists are forced to contend with overlapping sources of marginalisation, heartbreak and love, loneliness and friendship, continuity and change.

Natalie Perman

Natalie Perman recently completed studies in English and German at St John’s College, Oxford. She is a 2017 and 2018 winning and commended Foyle Young Poet and has won the Forward Student Critics’ Award 2017 as well as the Martin Starkie Prize 2021. Her debut poetry pamphlet Cataclysm was published in September 2021 with the press of Cheltenham Poetry Festival as winner of their New Voices First Pamphlet Award. She has served as Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Review of Books and The Isis Magazine, the longest-running student magazine in the UK, and is a current Poetry Reader for The Adroit Journal. Her work appears in The White Review and bath magg among others.

 

Natalie’s Writing Project

Alongside my academic studies of the figure of the child and ideas of ‘childishness’ in Kafka’s fiction, I am fascinated in my poetry with children’s voices as they echo throughout Jewish scripture. My debut pamphlet Cataclysm focused on these voices in comings of age and stories of adolescence. My current project, preliminarily entitled ‘Testaments’, combines refracted childhood memory with an interrogation of the status of oaths and promises. In this project, my first full-length poetry collection, I aim to tease out the interaction of oath and promise within the act of story-telling. I take definitions of oath and promise and the distinctions between them from the linguistic study of these in Biblical Hebrew by Blane Conklin, that unlike a promise an oath implies sincerity or earnestness, the oath itself committing the person voicing it to certain consequences. I trace this earnestness (to deceive) against swearing to truth in the the psychological studies of oaths and promises as they are formed and broken by Herbert J. Schlesinger.

Tilly Rubens

Tilly Rubens qualified as a welfare lawyer, specialising in housing and homelessness law, and is now a consultant at Russell- Cooke LLP in London. A few years ago she decided she wanted to combine a career in law with freelance writing and undertook a post-graduate diploma at the London School of Journalism.

She feels passionately about social issues and access to justice and has written extensively on the topics of housing and homelessness, legal aid and increasing diversity in the legal profession. She is also a sub-editor for Women in Law magazine.

Her current research and writing interests focus on the lives and legacies of the early women pioneers who fought so courageously to be allowed to join the legal and other professions at the start of the Twentieth Century.

Tilly’s Writing Project

2022 marks the centenary of the first women admitted as lawyers in England and Wales after a ferocious and bitter battle which culminated in the passing of the Sex (Disqualification) Removal Act in 1919. However this legislation would never have become law without the bravery of four young law graduates who took on the legal establishment in a landmark case called Bebb v The Law Society in 1913.

The project I am working on is to research the lives of these four pioneering women who fought to get an education and join the professions. The four plaintiffs were Gwyneth Bebb, Karin Costelloe, Maud Crofts and Lucy Nettlefold. Their lives encompassed both triumph and tragedy as they pursued careers in law, medicine and business.
My research will focus initially on primary sources including Lucy Nettlefold’s notebooks which are held at the Women’s Library in London and some papers on the early education of women lawyers held in the library at Newham College, Cambridge. Two of the grandchildren of the women involved in the case are still alive and I have approached them to give interviews about their memories/stories of their legal grandmothers.

 

Aaron Taylor

Aaron Taylor is a commercial barrister in practice at Fountain Court Chambers, and an associate lecturer in law at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has a particular interest in the law relating to fraud and corruption, and in art law. His book project, provisionally entitled Washed: Dirty money and the art market, aims to bring those interests together.

Aaron holds undergraduate degrees in history (Bristol University; First; top of year) and law (St Edmund’s College, Cambridge; Double First), and a postgraduate ‘Bachelor of Civil Law’ (Keble College, Oxford; Distinction). He has published academic articles in several leading legal journals; this is his first piece of writing for a non-specialist readership.

Aaron’s Writing Project

“Washed” is a study of the susceptibility of the art market to dirty money, and what can be done about it.

Part one will explore the role of confidentiality in art sales, and the use of offshore structures and freeports for the ownership and storage of high-value works. Case studies include the dispute between the art dealer Yves Bouvier and the oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev concerning Leonardo’s “Salvator Mundi” (amongst many other works), and the attempts by the heirs of the Parisian art dealer Oscar Stettiner to recover the Nazi-looted Modigliani portrait “Seated Man with a Cane”.

Part two will consider how art is used to launder money and evade sanctions. An example of the former is the acquisition by the financier Jho Low of a magnificent collection of Renaissance, impressionist and twentieth-century masterpieces, using sums misappropriated from the Malaysian sovereign development fund, 1MDB. The latter topic rose to prominence following a 2020 US Senate report concerning the oligarchs Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, who were sanctioned following the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Part three will address the challenges and opportunities posed by Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrencies.


 

Watch the 2021-2022 Emerging Writers Speaking at JBW2022

The 2021 Programme

The ten selected emerging writers for the 2021 Programme were: Sara Doctors, Sophie Dumont, Madeleine Dunnigan, Linda Ford, Philip Glassborow, Fiona Monahan, Eleanor Myerson, Julie Noble, Karen Skinazi and Guy Stagg. They will receive mentoring, peer support sessions and bursaries, as part of the programme.

Mentors for the 2021 Genesis Emerging Writers Programme are Tracy Chevalier, Benjamin Markovits & AD Miller (fiction); Sam Leith & Kavita Puri (journalism); Caroline Moorehead, George Prochnik & Cathy Rentzenbrink (non-fiction); and  Sophie Herxheimer George Szirtes (poetry).

Booker-nominated novelist AD Miller said: “To judge by the verve and variety of their submissions, these emerging writers have already emerged.”

The Last Act of Love author Cathy Rentzenbrink said: “Mentoring is such an enriching pleasure for me and the standard of applications I saw were so high that I would happily have worked with all the writers. I am excited to see how the programme will develop and looking forward to doing the work.”

T.S Eliot Prize and Intetnational Man Booker winner George Szirtes said: “It was a marvellous shortlist comprising poems about Alzheimer’s, about a Jewish family in Belfast, about beginnings, about living through darkness, and about Piaget, all good, all promising even more.”

Sam Leith, Spectator literary editor added: “I was very impressed and encouraged by the standard of the submissions I read, their ambition and the range of enthusiasms they showed. I’m hugely looking forward to working with these talented people.”

John Studzinski CBE, Founder and Chairman of the Genesis Foundation, said: “Congratulations to our ten emerging writers selected. We are looking forward to creative sparks flying, as they team up with their mentors. We are delighted to be working with Jewish Book Week and in our twentieth year, continuing to fulfil our core mission: to support and nurture creative and emerging talent.”