Credit where it's due

3rd December 2004 at 00:00
June Craven. Derby university

Readers of The Gift, James Riordan's latest children's novel, which was recently shortlisted for the TESNasen children's book award, will notice the authenticity of the poems in it that are "written" by the heroine, Bee Smart, who has cerebral palsy.

These poems were actually written by 20-year-old poet June Craven, who has cerebral palsy.

Riordan contacted June while his novel was in draft after reading about a volume of poems and prose she wrote on disability awareness for Booktrust, the literacy development organisation, three years ago.

"He sent me the manuscript and said the book needed some poems," June says.

"It was difficult writing to order but I tried to put myself into the character."

June is currently in the third year of a theatre studies and creative writing degree at Derby university and hopes to go on to do a creative writing MA. She has already had poems published in small press collections.

"I have always written. I write by hand because, although it used to slow me down, I feel my thoughts are more original when they go straight from my hand to the paper," she says.

"Sometimes when people say that was brilliant I wonder whether they mean it or if they are just saying it because I'm in a wheelchair. So I never mention my disability when I send stuff off and I don't usually write about it.

"I'd like to have collections of poetry and have people see my work for what it is and then find out I'm disabled after they've read it."

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