Lily Dessau tells Shake the Dust how UK organisation Spinebrakers crew give young people aged 13-18 in the UK a platform for their voice and celebrates the love of words..Way back in 2007, my English teacher suggested sending a piece of creative writing for the chance to be involved in something English-related. Little did I know that by sending off the short story I had written for coursework, would then open up the opportunities for a seemingly endless supply of books, to meet likeminded young people passionate about literature, and attend some really interesting and worthwhile events on behalf of Spinebreakers. I didn’t know what to expect at the time, but I thought ‘what’s the harm in trying to involve myself in things outside the banality of school life!’

Five years on, and I’ve made some great friends, and experienced some things I never would have outside of Spinebreakers. The highlight for me has to have been asked to be on the first youth panel for the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2009. It was such a surreal experience to be sitting around talking about literature with the founder of the prize, and author, Kate Mosse. We got such an insight into how individuals words are picked apart and scrutinised by judges of these awards, which has certainly made an impression on how I now judge my own writing!

I now read English at University, and I definitely believe my experience through Spinebreakers helped me get there. I look forward to finishing my degree and trying to wriggle my way into the literary world myself. I’m getting a bit too old for Spinebreakers, so before I grow senile, I implore you to join, love words and I can guarantee you’ll have as much, if not more, fun as I have had.


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