The Beacons Project: Creative responses

The Beacons Project aims to encourage creativity and forge a sense of creative identity amongst young people in Wales. It offers a unique opportunity for Welsh students to work with exceptional writers and journalists in a highly creative and stimulating environment during Hay Festival. Here are some of their creative responses to Hay Festival 2019 so far.

Josephine Lee

Hay Festival

Imagine the world made of stories

Legends and gospels and faces,

Imagine the world made of writing

Inspired by our festival in Wales

Imagine the world made of memory

Recollections and history and age,

Imagine the world made of recall,

No memory shut away in its cage

Imagine the World made of clarity,

Understanding, acceptance and sight,

Imagine the world made of answers,

Where we can learn what truly is right

Imagine the world made of eardrums

To hear the literature each one of us needs

Imagine the world made of eyeballs ,

To perceive each fictious deed

Imagine the readers are the many,

Immersed in the stories and thought

Imagine the world where stories are told

As in stories, we let our history lie

Imagine a generation of Beacons

Sharing adoration for each paper page

Imagine the world made of storytellers

A language that may never age

Sohaib Hassan

The Green room

(an imagined retelling)

Featuring Stephen Fry/Germaine Greer/Sandy Toksvig/Hannah Critchlow/Sarah-Jayne Blakemore/ Bill Bailey/ Nish Kumar

Stephen: “No Germaine, you cant possibly assume that all people are knowledgeable or interested in ‘your style’, they don’t know you get a high from reckless eccentricity. Quite frankly my dear , it appears rude!”

Germaine: “ oh please, that’s enough about my age and eccentricities Stephen. Do enlighten the company on your motivations of coming to the middle of nowhere, if not to be the centre of attention year after year. Tell me, did your title as the recent highest paid employee of the BBC suffice?

( Snide muffled laughter accompanied the badinage)

Sandi: “Okay!, moving on from that sleazy comment, you won’t believe what believe appeared in my friends dream “

(lethargic chortling)

Hannah: “There was actually a really interesting  research done by Mark Solms at the incredible Academic department of Neurosurgery in Royal London Hospital: where they were found that dreaming and REM sleep are controlled by different brain mechanisms, which basically supports the psychoanalytic idea of the tripartite personality , it was absolutely fascinating because what we know about the brain in-------”


Hannah: …early childhood

Stephen: Alas Oedipus and Electra … sufferers of their own mind

Bill: Don’t you think it’s a little disappointing we don’t have many young people doing classics today-it actually astonished me how a boy at my gig the other night managed to think of a play by Aristophones

Nish: Ah Yes, the involuntarily celibate liberal elites have penetrated Hay Festival!

Siobhan Evans

I thought I would talk about creativity here, personify it and use that to describe the festival. But now I see that the festival is so much more than that. How can you describe something that is in a way indescribable?

I’ll try anyway

The Hay festival is kind of like a great bookstore, cliché I know but bear with me. A great book store should have many sections, fiction, fact, children only and so many others. The Festival is like that. Talks on every subject under the sun by more people than you could possibly know. Its like being a lover of romance books and accidently finding yourself in sci fi section. You don’t think you’ll enjoy but find you have discovered a new love. The festival does that, pushes your boat out of the shallows of comfort into the sea of discovery.

The festival is a collection of short stories that try to capture human life . A sense of wonder , intrigue and an instinct to inform. Each talk , each subject like an organ in the body of the festival, the body of life. For what are we but a set of complex emotions and ideas. The Hay festival captures this in a way that surprises and engages.

As the festival says ‘Imagine the world, so imagine it through the lens of endless possibilities’

Samuel Jolly

The event organisers tried to make every moment exciting and unexpected. By the end of the experience, they felt like friends. Friends we had all as a group had gotten to know very well. They treated us like adults with dignity. The panels we attended were very informative without being boring. We met some really enthusiastic individuals such as Chris Riddell and Sarah Jayne Blakemore. The people you get to know in your group really feel like they are your friends by the end. Coming from this experience, I feel like I’ve made a whole set of new friends and truly began my career as a writer.

Taylor Williams

Can I decide upon the best moment of my Beacons Project experience?

Being thrown into three talks with Stephen Fry on day one was an indicator of what was to come. Particularly when he was reading from his unreleased novel. A fascinating book of Greek mythology. Whilst Chris Riddell created remarkable, hilarious illustrations, speaking of Chris Riddell , our private Q and A session with him outside the green room (basically the celebrity guest lounge) was particularly amazing. He gave us such an incredible insight into the importance of following your heart – I could really resonate with his experience of feeling pushed towards English yet also pulled towards art.

And just imagine the utter surrealism, sitting in the front row of Bill Baileys show, laughing with a crowd of hundreds at his strikingly accurate personations of Donald Trump, It something unexpected to experience. On the topic of politics, it was the sheer variety of subject areas that truly surprised me at the Hay Festival. I learnt more about Brexit and the human brain in one afternoon than I ever knew, my personal specialism being arts and literature. Hannah Critchlow’s fascinating discussion of fate, as well as our Q & A with neuroscientist Sarah -Jayne Blakemore, were unbelievably engaging and inspiring. These subjects that I abandoned at secondary school I’m now able to experience in completely different ways, science, religion, politics and psychology.

Perhaps what truly made this life changing experience was the people, can you believe that in four days, ten strangers will form great bonds and close trusting friendship? That they’d be up at 1 am sitting on bunk beds and playing a weirdly addictive game about wolves and witches? The radio platform workshop comes to discuss topics such as mental health, social stigma and the education system. Which we felt able to share our personal experiences and anecdotes about.

At the end of Hay Festival, the days are long and the nights are short. Time absolutely flies by, but submerged in the environment of such mixed interests and aspirations , the Beacons Project has enlightened me to the  realm of possibilities in the world of creative writing.

Ethan Thomas

A brisk walk from admin led this group of eager young writers to the prestigious artists lounge. To say a sea of nerves and trepidation washed over us would be a raging understatement. We sat quickly and silently, not daring to speak as idols and literary inspirations come casually back and forth, all the while forcing us to contemplate our place here. Until one Monday, Chris Riddell, Yes, THE CHRIS RIDDELL, diffused the tension by agreeing ( very kindly I might add) to speak privately with us and feed our young imaginations. A line-up of hopeful eyes lay fixedly on the figure who would ultimately change our outlook forever. In a melange of amuzing anecdotes and inspirational morals, we were enlightened to the possibility of our own writing, our own future. By emphasizing the validity of our own dreams, we were reassured that it could only be right to follow them, regardless of the supercilious thoughts of others. The atmosphere of the festival only strengthened this. Our writing pads clenched fiercely and supporting our swinging lanyards, these young minds suddenly aware- writing is valid. Writing is important. It is nothing to be ashamed of or to hide. Just as the young Chris challenged the expectations of others to pursue what so many scorned and denounced as base artistic expression, we realised that it was not merely  our right but our duty to carry this torch forward, to be bold and unapologetic  in our literary enthusiasm. We are writers and Hay has told us just why this is so important.

Iwan Blakeway

Fictious News Report


Terrorist held up in potential massacre

A potential act of terrorism was successfully defeated yesterday at the Hay Festival in the Welsh borderland town of Hay-On-Wye on the 26th May. The suspect who is not yet to be named , is currently in police custody and Dyfed police force believe that the suspect planned a terrorist offence targeting Finton O’Toole’s interview. A couple of months ago, Finton O’Toole released his latest political book called Heroic Failure which is surely about the Brexit process. Since its publication, Heroic Failure and indeed O’Toole have faced strong opposition from Irish nationalists such as Sinn Fein for not “thanking the country that birthed him and gave him bread and water” instead as well as this, the Sinn Fein leader argued in an ITV interview that “O’Toole does not talk about the true problems of Modern Day Ireland because he feels that he is insuring that the troubles will not become a major talking point for any Irishman”, whereas. He continued “ he is just contributing to another Irish nationalist revolution”. The real IRA have recently stated on social media that the attack was organised by them but this has not been confirmed yet by the authorities. If security did not hold up the man and if he is a member of the real IRA then this would have been the second act of terrorism in 2 months after the shooting of journalist Lyra Mckee. The suspect will have a hearing in the crown court on the 1st June.

Gabriella Maio


Scenes shifting,

Dreams amalgamating,

In our childhood heroes that traverse,

The rotating stages,

Comedy, History, Science,

Its books that unite,

The seemingly separate strands of knowledge,

Literature leads us here,


And it’s the newfound companionship that ensures,

Our rapid return,

Like the Perseids in the summer shy,

We fall,

Into our bed of books,

The paper sheets tucking us in,

To the black and White Illustrations

Cultivated at the Hay Festival.

Adam Durrant

The drawing man

With one hand, a man brought a cup of tea to his lips. In the other, he held a pencil poised over a blank page in a sketchbook. He put down his cup and stared, brow furrowed, at nothing in particular. It was a soft, gentle evening; earlier clouds had long gone and the threat of a summer downpour with it. He was not out of the ordinary, from the outside at least: small, with thinning white hair of very early old age, and he wore the beginnings of a beard too. Nevertheless, he still had a cheeky air to him, a childish smile waiting in the wings. He couldn’t look too happy; grinning from ear to ear when drinking tea alone at an outdoor café is not a common sight and would attract too much attention. It wasn’t attention that he wanted. In fact, it was very much the opposite. He wanted to watch, unobserved himself.

He’d come here today to find a new subject, to doodle, after a long day. As he stared, just waiting for something to catch his attention, a couple turned up and sat at a table next to him, a man and a woman. Perhaps it would be interesting to try. They seemed normal enough, nothing special, but it’s nice to just relax, not to think. With sideways glances, he began to draw. At first, just quick, light lines, outlines really. The crooked nose of the man, small lips and grecian curls of the woman. He liked the way they sat, quite something in the evening glow, an image of everyday friendship.

It didn’t take him long to finish it. Leaning back in his chair, he viewed his doodle. Yes, he liked it.

Emma Jenkins

Throughout the Beacons Project I was introduced to many new ideas through talks and panel discussing topics ranging from Neuroscience to philosophy to politics. I feel as though it has bordered my mind and introduced me to several new ideas and perspectives on the topics affecting us all.