Welcome to the Summer of Freedom Reads!

Are you aged 14-21 and looking for an opportunity to connect and work with other young creatives? If you're interested in current affairs, activism, and freedom of speech, and passionate about reading and writing, Summer of Freedom Reads is your opportunity to meet inspiring speakers, take part in guided workshops led by experienced writers, receive professional writing feedback, and more.

Open to all 14 - 21 year olds, Summer of Freedom Reads is a new programme of interactive writing workshops, with talks from inspiring speakers including Professor Corinne Fowler, Mariam Khan, and Professor Sharon Monteith.

This programme has been developed in partnership with English PEN, one of the world’s oldest human rights organisations. This year, English PEN celebrates its centenary through the Common Currency programme, a unique programme of in-person and online events, residencies and workshops that combines debates on freedom of expression, creative campaigning, and a celebration of diverse voices - and Nottingham is getting involved.

Held in the historic National Justice Museum, the Nottingham Summer of Freedom Reads writing workshops will look specifically at these themes of protest, free speech, and democracy, as well as taking a deep dive into some of the most famous (and infamous) books to have sparked public outrage across time. You will discuss censorship and how it has differed over time and place, and receive professional writing advice in a #PENWrites letter writing workshop. #PENWrites is English PEN’s international letter-writing campaign in solidarity with writers in prison and at risk around the world. For decades, PEN has supported writers who are unjustly persecuted for exercising their right to freedom of expression, and PEN members have long supported fellow writers by sending letters of support.

There will also be in-person talks and a Q&A from inspiring guest writers and activists, whose stories will spark conversation about historical and contemporary issues relating to freedom of speech, censorship, and public outrage

What's in it for me?

  1. Hear talks from inspiring guest speakers and the opportunity to ask any questions you might have
  2. Three days of guided workshops in the historic National Justice Museum to develop and hone your writing skills
  3. Receive one-to-one professional writing feedback from an experienced writer and facilitator
  4. Time and space to develop original pieces of creative writing
  5. Free guided tour of the National Justice Museum
  6. £60 bursary and goody bag
  7. A contribution of £20 towards travel expenses to the National Justice Museum Lunch is provided free of charge

When and where are the workshops?

The workshops will run on the 8th, 15th, and 22nd August 2021, from 12pm - 4pm.

Lunch will be provided from 12:15pm and the first workshop will begin at 1pm.

All three workshops will take place in the National Justice Museum, Nottingham.

Your responsibilities

  1. Attend all three Freedom Reads sessions
  2. Be committed and punctual to the programme
  3. Share your feedback and thoughts about the programme and help us improve the sessions.
  4. To oblige by the Covid restrictions in place at the National Justice Museum

Ready to apply?

To apply, please complete the application form
by 12pm on Wednesday 21st July 2021.


We’re happy to help! You can get in touch on Twitter, Instagram or by email.

The Summer of Freedom Reads programme is supported by a generous donation from Diana Bosworth.


Joshua Judson

Joshua Judson

Joshua Judson is a poet from Nottingham. He is an alumnus of Mouthy Poets collective that was based at Nottingham Playhouse and is a member of London’s Barbican Young Poets community. His work has been published in The North, Magma, Brittle Star, The Rialto, The White Review, Bath Magg among others, and he has worked with partners such as Tower Bridge, St. Mungo’s, and the Barbican. Josh has delivered workshops for Schools and Colleges, Writing East Midlands’ Nottingham Young Writers Group, and for Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature. In 2013, he founded Poetry Is Dead Good, a monthly poetry night in Nottingham once described as ‘Nottingham’s Premier poetry event’ by the Nottingham Post. Josh's debut pamphlet, Gongoozler, is available from Bad Betty Press. He was born in Reading, grew up in the Lake District and was made in Nottingham.

Guest speakers

Professor Corinne Fowler

Professor Corinne Fowler

Professor Corinne Fowler is a research expert at the University of Leicester, and is Director of Colonial Countryside: National Trust Houses Reinterpreted. She is an expert in the legacies of colonialism and postcolonialism to literature, heritage and representations of British history. Corinne also co-founded and led the Centre for New Writing for 6 years, where she brought together writers and researchers to commission over 100 creative works.


Mariam Khan

Mariam Khan

Mariam Khan is the editor of It's Not About the Burqa, essayist in Rife Book, columnist at the i Paper, and writes for many other publications including The Guardian, Stylist, Metro, i-D, and more. She sits on an advisory board at the BBC to consult on the representation of Muslim women in media. Mariam has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Gloucestershire and is currently studying for a Masters in Gender Studies at SOAS, London.

Panya Banjoko

Panya Banjoko

Panya Banjoko is a UK-based writer and poet. She has toured internationally, coordinates a writers’ and artists’ network and is patron for Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature. Her work has featured in numerous anthologies including the award-winning Dawn of the Unread series published by LeftLion magazine in 2016. In 2017 her poem ‘One of a Kind’ was commended in the Writing East Midlands Aurora poetry competition and her poem ‘They and Them’ was featured in an exhibition by artist, academic and critic Keith Piper at the Beaconsfield Gallery, London. She received the Women in the Arts Poetry Award for Outstanding Achievement in 2008 and the Black Achievers Culture, Music and Arts Award for her work as a poet in 2017.


Professor Sharon Monteith

Professor Sharon Monteith

Professor Sharon Monteith is Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Cultural History at Nottingham Trent University. Her latest book, SNCC’s Stories: The African American Freedom Movement in the Civil Rights South (2020) is published by the University of Georgia Press in the series Print Culture of the South. She is currently recipient of a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship and is writing a literary history of the US civil rights movement.