National Centre for Writing is delighted to announce the High Street Tales writers-in-residence for the East of England: Ligia Macedo and Ellie McKinlay-Khojinian!
Following a nationwide call for submissions, the duo has been chosen along with five other writers who represent the different regions in England to create a set of stories that celebrate the local high street, and the people and communities who depend on them. The stories will be broadcast and distributed online.
Ellie and Ligia met doing community work in Great Yarmouth and discovered a mutual love of writing. They have since facilitated several workshops together and participated jointly in Feast of Stories, part of Visiting Arts’ programme in Great Yarmouth in 2018. They said:
‘We are so excited to be collaborating on this new commission by Historic England!’
Peggy Hughes, Programme Manager at the National Centre for Writing said:
‘We’re excited to have selected collaborators Ellie McKinlay-Khojinian and Ligia Macedo to tell the story of Great Yarmouth for our chapter of this fantastic nationwide project, funded by Historic England. Between them and together they have lots of experience working with the communities in Great Yarmouth; coupled with such a rich and textured place, full of history, we anticipate a very wonderful story.’
Ellie & Ligia: our plans
Tucked behind the flamboyant arcades and candy-floss colours of the seafront in Great Yarmouth is King Street, where real people live and work and meet. It is a street that is modest about its rich history – only whispering its stories that you need to lean in to hear – but confident in its role of today, shouting loud and making itself heard in many languages.
We want to hear those whispered stories, and the loud ones too, and we want to share them. We want to find out what the street means to those that use it today, and we want to imagine what it will become tomorrow.
Using contributions that we gather through creative workshops with different sections of the community, interviews with local residents and our own research into the past and present of the street we aim to co-create a short story that showcases these aspects of King Street – its history, its diversity, its centrality – and gives a voice to those who have migrated here.
Meet the writers…
Ligia Macedo was born in Beira, Mozambique, an African port city bathed by the Indian Ocean. In the late 70s, her family fled the Civil War and went to Lisbon, Portugal, where she grew up, studied and worked. Life circumstances carried her away once again to another shore, and she ended up in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, UK, where she made a life for herself and her family. She fell in love with the town and its people and finds its community spirit, diversity and resilience very inspiring. Ligia works with migrant communities and has worked in different Community Projects since 2014.
The writing worm has always been inside her though, and she feels that there are so many voices and stories unheard waiting to burst out and come alive.
Ligia participated in Poetry Readings in Norwich and Great Yarmouth, organised a Creative Writing Workshop as well as a Reading Group for Portuguese speakers with the support of Great Yarmouth Library. She writes under the pen names, Gia Leboeuf and Gia Mawusi. Her short story, My Land, under Gia Mawusi, is featured in Field Work New Nature Writing from East Anglia, Edited by Sarah Lowndes.
Ligia is taking her writing more seriously now and persevering in her storytelling. She is currently working in 2 writing projects: a collection of short stories and her first novel – a slow burner work in progress, set in Mozambique. She is happier at night-time, when everything is silent, and she is reading or writing in the relative quietness of her bedroom.
Ellie McKinlay-Khojinian grew up in Norfolk. She met her Iranian husband in the UK in 2004 and is the proud owner of an Iranian passport. In 2017 Ellie was selected for the Escalator writer development scheme through the National Centre for Writing and has been grateful for the opportunity (and excuse) to take her writing more seriously ever since. As well as writing herself, Ellie also loves being part of the process of enabling others to write. She has a particular interest in working with people for whom English is not their first language and has recently taught a series of workshops to members of the migrant community in Norwich.
Ellie continues to work on the final draft of her first novel, set in Iran, which she began after an extended trip there in 2014. She blames her slow progress on her ability to get distracted by just about anything and a disproportionate amount of time spent on cuddling her children, drinking tea, cooking rice and watching excellent European dramas on Walter Presents.
High Street Tales is part of the cultural programme of the High Street Heritage Action Zones (HAZ) project run by Historic England. Find out more