By Day Lilico
Thirteen-year-old Ava Munro entranced a group of children and adults in the Yurt yesterday at St Endellion, with readings from her poetry book A Mug of Imagination. She opened the session by talking about how she got into poetry. Ava is dyslexic and always hated English classes as she struggled with her spelling, but for her, the great thing about poetry is that it has no rules. It doesn’t matter about spelling or grammar, it doesn’t have to make sense; anything goes. So she found poetry as a way for her to express herself with words. Her mother says she “always loved words”.
Ava reads in a steady rhythm, in a strong, clear voice which hits emphasis on certain words to draw the audience’s attention. Her style is lilting and she touches on subjects that appeal to children and adults alike in her work. She tells the story of her inspiration and keeps the children entertained by showing them pictures that accompany each poem. She is highly eloquent, clearly intelligent, and advanced for her age.
After the reading she answered some audience questions which gave us an insight into her life; her favourite books and comics were Dr Seuss, Asterix, Tintin and The Moomins. Her favourite place to write is at the beach near her house, as she’s a Cornwall native. She isn’t sure what she wants to do when she grows up, but she does want to write stories, to try and write a book, as well as another poetry collection.
Once the session was over, I managed to get an exclusive interview. Ava first got published because she was proud of her work and wanted to share it with others. She was encouraged by Jane Trapmore from the Cornwall Dyslexia Service, who helped her build confidence and develop her talent. She likes audiobooks, but prefers reading as that gives you more space to imagine characters voices and appearance for yourself, even though it is more tiring for her. Similarly, she prefers writing by hand as it gives you more space to think about what you’re writing.
Ava loves the freedom of poetry, but she’s also been working on stories on the Wattpad app – as she says there isn’t any pressure there – and she can also read other people’s work. Waiting for the next chapter of someone’s work to come out on Wattpad builds up suspense and she enjoys that aspect. She personally writes adventure stories and tragedies, and says she can’t write about herself so she creates made up characters to write about instead. She has started a story recently about a girl with dyslexia, about her struggles from before she was diagnosed. I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say I’m very much looking forward to her next publication!
To finish, Ava gave this advice to children who want to be writers: it’s difficult to start without the right idea, so just get all your ideas down on paper, don’t worry about the spelling or them being perfect and then you can think about them and work on them.
Ava Munro’s book is the sixth publication in the Cornwall Dyslexia Service Book Writing Project. The service works with young authors who have experienced problems related to literacy or dyslexia. The project began in 2011 and Cornwall is the first county to have this kind of project. All this and more at the North Cornwall Book Festival 2016, 21st-23rd October at St Endellion.
Photo credit: Olivia Cooper & Day Lilico