Guest post: Inky Lemons champions young female voices

Delighted to welcome Helen Irene Young back to the blog today. She first visited as part of our Indie Debuts series talking about her novel, The May Queen (read it here) and today’s she’s talking about a great new project she’s been involved in. The Inky Lemons anthology, recently published by Vanguard Editions.

New anthology, Inky Lemons champions young female voices
By Helen Young

Ask yourself when you first felt confident enough to pick up a pen and write. Who encouraged you? Was it a teacher? A parent? A friend? Hounslow Action for Youth (HAY) is all these things and more to the young women living in the West London borough.

In 2017, HAY’s Mash-Up Memoir writing project was born out of a need to support school-age women who felt voiceless and creatively underrepresented. Under the supervision of Jacqueline Crooks (lead workshop facilitator, fundraiser and project developer) they’ve just published their first anthology – Inky Lemons – a blisteringly bold and original compendium of poetry, short stories, flash fiction and illustration.

‘What we’ve learned from this project is that creative writing engages socially excluded young women who don’t take part in other activities,’ said Jacqueline. ‘There is something powerful about helping them find their voice through literature. The young women have gone from a point of not believing they could write, to seeing their writing published alongside award-winning authors. Thanks to Arts Council England for funding this project and others like it.’

To prepare the anthology, over 70 young women living and studying in Hounslow took part in arts workshops run by female writers. Work was also submitted for review as part of a remote mentoring program. I was fortunate enough to lead one of these sessions in Hounslow with a group of fifteen school girls. At times shy and funny, yet all remarkable – Inky Lemons is the culmination of all of their efforts.

The anthology also includes contributions from some of the country’s best poets and novelists, including:

Mona Arshi is a poet and lawyer. Her début collection of poems, Small Hands, won the Forward Prize for best first collection in 2015.

Helen Calcutt is a poet. Her pamphlet collection Sudden Rainfall was shortlisted for the PBS Pamphlet Choice Award.

Fran Lock is a poet. She is the author of three poetry collections, Dogtooth, The Mystic and the Pig Thief, and Flatrock. She won third prize in The Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition 2014

Rose McGinty is a novelist. Electric Souk was published in March 2017.

Desiree Reynolds is a writer, DJ and workshop facilitator. Seduce was published in 2013 and she is working on a collection of short stories.

Kate Wakeling is a poet. Her first collection of poems for children, Moon Juice won the 2017 CLiPPA Prize and has been nominated for the 2018 Carnegie Medal.

Inky Lemons (edited by Richard Skinner and published by Vanguard Editions Social Action) is available for £7.99 at

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