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15 / 16 Girl Writes: Downs Park Road

'In 1989 I was married with a young child. As tutor for a girls’ writing group at Centerprise, I was able to develop my ideas about creative writing – then a new and exciting subject – and to focus on opportunities for young women which, as a feminist, I strongly believed in.

Every Wednesday evening during term-time, Girl Writes gave 11 to 17-year-olds a focus for writing poems and stories and developing friendships; a place in which they could feel they belonged. I remember, at the end of the evenings, driving S in my old Citroen Diane to the entrance of her tower block off Downs Park Road then returning R and E to other parts of Hackney and the safety of their homes.

In 1992, sad to leave teaching the group, I wrote ‘On Saying Goodbye’, a dramatisation of the last evening that we met together. Here is an extract from that longer poem:

It is so strong
it lights up in remembered incidents.
And, riding bareback on the theme,

out of the dark words, images,
long threads of story,
offer themselves and are pulled up.

And I am saying
good-bye to this journey
which has taken

me and them,
riding together,
week after month after year.

White sheets of paper
are pulled over.
Is it a poem or a story?'

by Sara Boyes

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Girl Writes, c. 1989 © Vanessa Welch
Photo of Sara Boyes, 2015 supplied courtesy of Sara Boyes.