Featured Event – Picket Line Poetry

Picket Line Poetry on National Writing Day

Take to your typewriters! Post a photo of your typewriter with a line of protest poetry.

On National Writing Day, 26th June, students from secondary schools across Hull will form a picket line of poetry. Led by writer Russ Litten and literacy charity First Story and funded by Back to Ours, the event will commemorate a ‘sit-in’ that took place in 1974 as a result of industrial action at the Imperial Typewriters factory.

A number of typewriter stations will be set up around Hull, and picketing students will visit each location in turn, typing a line of protest poetry at each. The sit-in in 1974 had a strong message to it, and Russ was inspired to create the National Writing Day event in response to this. The workers were protesting the closure of the factory, and the sit-in served to demonstrate the factory’s productivity, whilst prompting talks about creating a workers’ cooperative to continue British typewriter production.

Recent reports demonstrate that children and young people are having less access to creative writing at school, and the students involved in the picket line are amplifying their manifesto that writing is their right.  And they want you to join them.

On National Writing Day, First Story and partners are calling on everyone, everywhere to take part in a freewriting exercise.  The seven minute ‘Write Away’ is on the theme of ‘place’. This can be a physical place, a place in time or an imaginary place. The objective is to inspire people everywhere to discover the pleasure and power of writing by taking part in a classroom, at home or in the office. It can be done by hand, using a phone or tablet, making a recording or even better, typing on a typewriter!

Russ Litten is calling out for anyone involved in the Imperial Typewriters sit-in to get in touch with him at: russlitten@mac.com

This event is funded by Back to Ours, an arts organisation that puts local communities at the heart of choosing, creating and participating in incredible arts activities and experiences.

Post a photo of your typewriter with a line of protest poetry, or a Write Away activity:

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Key facts about Hull

  • Hull finished its term as the UK City of Culture, at the end of 2017. It has a rich history of literature, radicalism and bold ideas.
  • Poet, Philip Larkin wrote several volumes of poetry, received many accolades and held the post of Librarian to the University of Hull for many years. For more information, visit Hull History Centre.
  • William Wilberforce, British politician and abolitionist was born in Hull. He lobbied for the abolition of the slave trade.
  • Aviator Amy Johnson (1903–1941) grew up in Hull. She broke into the world of aviation as the first woman to fly from England to Australia in 1930, and set a string of other records throughout her career. For more information, visit: http://amyjohnsonartstrust.co.uk/.


Take part on 26th June 2019:

Everyone has a story to tell – what’s yours?


National Writing Day is led by First Story and partners across the UK.