Literary project aims to create exciting new generation of diverse voices from the Midlands

A literary project that aims to create an exciting new generation of diverse voices from the Midlands has secured significant investment from Arts Council England.

Michael Donkor

Following a successful pilot, the Middle Way Mentoring project, a professional development programme for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers in the Midlands, is returning for a second round. The project led by writer and publisher Farhana Shaikh is funded by Arts Council England who have doubled their investment from £35k to £75. It is being delivered with a number of partners including Bookouture, The Literary Consultancy, Curve Leicester, Writing West Midlands and Dahlia Books.


The second round will offer 14 new and emerging prose writers mentoring alongside monthly masterclasses. In the first year, mentees will focus on developing the craft of writing. They will be paired with an established author and receive critical feedback on new writing who will also deliver a masterclass. This will be followed by a series of workshops and talks led by industry experts in the second year to help demystify how publishing works. A slack channel will give writers a chance to connect outside of the formal curriculum. Mentors taking part in the scheme include Michael Donkor, Kerry Young, Leone Ross, Kasim Ali among others.

“I’m thrilled that Arts Council England have recognised the need for a scheme like ours, which directs support at those who are often most ignored by the mainstream – writers from culturally diverse backgrounds in the Midlands,” said Farhana Shaikh. “We’re beginning to see the fantastic outcome of the pilot with all seven writers going on to make outstanding progress on their writing journey.”

The scheme’s success speaks for itself. Shahed Yousaf’s book Stitched Up was published by Penguin after securing representation from Simon Trewin.  Kalbinder Kaur was a runner up in the Mo Siewcharran Prize and Nazira Vania was shortlisted in the SI Leeds Literary Prize.

But its founder insists that the scheme is designed to look beyond publication. “The Middle Way Mentoring project is about exploring possibilities and opening access to networks. We want to support writers on their journey and guide them with the tools to help them develop a sustainable writing practice.”

Jenny Geras, Managing Director of Bookouture said:  “Talking to Farhana about her incredible plans for Middle Way Mentoring is always inspiring and energising. Bookouture are so thrilled to have the opportunity to work with her and to support Middle Way Mentoring in their mission to help Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic writers develop their craft and build on their knowledge of the publishing industry.”

Applications close on 27th March, with the programme launching in late April. Submissions are open to unagented, unpublished writers from a Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic background based in the Midlands.

For more details and to apply visit the website: