Meet Mayo

Posted by theministry on 20th February 2024

We’re very happy to welcome two top writers and facilitators, Mayo and Jenny, who head up our Community Writing Labs and lead our young writers on exciting new adventures.



Mayo Agard-Olubo

Hail from:

Hackney, London

Favourite piece of writing:

I think my favourite piece of writing is the poem The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll. It combines two of my favourite things, poetry and fantasy stories, in a really brilliant way

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a writer and poet who loves to come up with fantastical stories for children. I used to be a computer programmer but I much prefer spending my days coming up with adventures for children to go on and dreaming up magical new worlds. My writing has won several awards including 2023 Mo Siewcharran Prize and a 2022 London Writers Awards, and I was also named one of the 2024 Writers On The Rise by Pan Macmillan and the Black British Book Festival. When I’m not writing I spend my time enjoying all things fantasy, sci-fi and anime.

What are you most looking forward to with the labs?

Getting to see the vast range of ideas our young writers come up with. I’m constantly blown away by their level of creativity and how inventive they are in their storytelling. They have huge imaginations and it’s always exciting to see what they create.

What first got you interested in writing?

I grew up in a family that loves to tell stories and Caribbean folklore, as well as stories from all around the world were a big part of my childhood. Because of this, I’ve had a passion for storytelling for as long as I can remember. As I got older I began to reflect on the books I’d read and realised there was definitely a lack of stories that I felt represented people like me. That made me even more passionate about writing my own stories and getting them out into the world

Why is a space to write and be creative so important for young people?

Writing helps you discover who you are. It’s such an amazing tool for exploring what you love and how you feel about both yourself and the world around you. That’s why it’s so crucial for young people to have the space to express themselves creatively through their writing, because it can really help in that journey of self discovery that all young people are on. Also when young people have the space to grow their imaginations we see their confidence grow as well. I feel like the benefits to their personal development are basically endless.

If you could be a character from a book, who would you be?

Miles Morales from the Spiderman comic books. I think it would be very cool to be a superhero but also his powers like climbing walls and being able to swing from building to building would make getting around London so much easier.

If you could go on one adventure from a book, which would it be?

There’s a book called Tristan Strong Punches A Hole In The Sky, where the main character Tristan goes on a journey through a land filled with characters from African and African American folklore and mythology, and he saves the day using storytelling powers. I think that would be an Amazing adventure to go on.

What’s one of your favourite pieces of writing you’ve come across in labs so far?

We did a session on writing fan letters and I was expecting a lot of letters to pop stars and footballers but we actually got a very interesting range. One of our teenage writers wrote a fan letter to the Grim Reaper and it was an absolutely brilliant piece of writing. It was a very nuanced meditation on the nature of life and mortality but also had some humour in there as well. It was absolutely fantastic and definitely my favourite so far.

What has been one of your best moments in labs so far?

One of our young writers wrote this really great story, it was very gothic and very spooky. She also did drawings of the characters in the stories and cut them out to make little paper puppets. One of our volunteer mentors read the story out while the writer performed the story with her puppets and the combination was brilliant. The performance had everyone in the room absolutely hooked. That was a great moment.

Can you recommend a good children’s book/poetry/play/comic for us?

Amari and the Night Brothers is fantastic. It’s sort of like Men In Black meets Harry Potter and it’s so much fun. It’s a really fantastic fantasy adventure and I can’t recommend it enough.

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