Imaru Lewis Speaking at Our Festival

Below is a recording of Imaru Lewis speaking at our Young Writers’ Festival at Cambridge University. Imaru’s enthusiasm in his journey with First Story made him the ideal person to introduce a new cohort of students to our programme. With humour and conviction, Imaru assured students that they each had stories to tell, and that First Story could help them do it, then performed a piece of his own writing in front of an audience of 330 students as well as a number of acclaimed writers including keynote speakers Kei Miller, Shivanee Ramlochan and Stephen Kelman. Here is what he said:



My name is Imaru Lewis, I took part in the First Story programme from 2015–2016 at Highgate Wood school in London. I know everyone here can write, all of you can write. You all have your own story to tell.

I had lots of stories. I’ve been telling stories since I was a really young age. Making poems, creating cartoons. But acknowledging that i had the potential to become a professional writer, an author that only came when I joined First Story.

Every session gave me a new challenge, a new subject to look at. I had to rethink my own thinking. Looking at new perspectives, working with real authors, gave me an enthusiasm to create my own styles and to share them.

When I was selected by First Story to go on the Arvon residential trip, I spent time with people like you. People who love literature. When you get quality and constructive feedback by your own writing, your confidence grows.

First Story exposed me to a side of writing I hadn’t had the courage to venture in to on my own. The big step of sharing my work. We all fear ridicule and critical comments from our peers from our peers and people within our close circle. But in reality, when people actually want to ask you about your characters, are nagging you for the next instalment of your story, it makes you want to write even more. You get a buzz from hearing your own very own creation.

From here I went on to take part in the Rathbone Folio prize, I had a wonderful mentor, Kamila Shamsie who helped me take my writing to the next level and really fine tune all the stuff that I needed to get on with, it was a really great journey.

So, First Story taught me how to make my story belong to other people. And now if you don’t mind I’m going to share my first story with you.


The Case of Angela Brown

The text came at about 3 p.m:

wanna see The Martian?

I tutted. Mordor was almost mine and I only needed to defeat the final boss; too much was at stake here for me to go wandering off to see some stupid film. Besides, as far as I knew, the only ‘Martians’ were insects they’d found in the ground up there, and I don’t know about you but watching a film about space insects wasn’t something I wanted to waste my weekend on. Sorry mate, have plans. I’d barely resumed my assault on the Black Gate, when the phone vibrated with the reply,

oh yeah? ‘going to your gran’s’ again Imaru? We all know what that really means y’know. That riled me. Luke had been giving me gip like that for far too long and it was time to wipe the smirk that I knew he’d be wearing off that sorry face of his. no actually, you div, I do have plans! 

Veep-veep, came the response.

you do not


Of course I do




Piss off!


What then? This should be interesting

Bubbling with uncontainable rage and indignance, I wrote down something that I knew would silence him before punching the send button… I MET A GIRL! Instantly I realised the mistake. The phone sat blankly as I eyed it pensively. Perhaps he hadn’t received the text. I pleaded silently with the message to somehow bounce back, to have mercy. The dreaded reply came.

… really?

What could I do? My pride was in the balance, retreating now would ruin me. So I text back, simply, yes. Another crippling pause as I waited for the phone to buzz once again. Here it came.

what’s her name then?

Desperately I gave a name, running through the various ways in which I could escape the situation. her name is Angela, and we met at Waitrose…


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