Selected Past Projects
Poetry Power – Literacy Projects
My poetry projects in schools are first and foremost about having fun with words.
Some of my recent long-term projects have also focussed on helping young people to sharpen literacy skills and gain more confidence in voicing their views and feelings.
At Fairways School in Leigh-on-Sea, I worked with comedian Laura Mugeridge to lead Year 5 children on guerrilla poetry-style raids on other classes, performing group and individual poems and passing on their learning to their peers.
At Summerlea Community School in West Sussex, I combined skills with the world renowned Mr B, The Gentlemen Rhymer, inspiring the whole school in a festival of rhyme, rap and the spoken word.
In conjunction with Animate Arts Company, I worked on The Word Orchestra Project with Year 1 - Year 4 pupils at Wincheap and Diocesan Payne schools in Canterbury. We created group choral poetry that was shared at The Gulbenkian Theatre.
Some of the most exciting poetry responds to challenging issues and complex emotions.
At Robsack Wood school, in Hastings, I worked on "The Feeling Detectives", a project which explored detective novels, poetry, word games and drama with Year 4 students to support the young people to express emotions more effectively, also addressing issues such as bullying.
It was great to hear from teachers how well the pupils who normally struggle to engage in lessons were so enthusiastic in the poetry workshops.
I spent four years working with students across all key stages of New Horizons School, a school for pupils 6 -16 with emotional and behavioural difficulties. Working with the young people, teachers and a variety of other artists from varied disciplines, we created books, films and multi-media performance pieces, such as The Ugly Smugglers, which was performed publically at The Electric Palace Cinema. Along the way we also looked at war poetry, wrote personal oral history poems with some inspired results, and created our own nonsense poetry world complete with national anthem and dance.
English GCSE and Cross-Curriculum Projects
I recently spent an enjoyable day at Fulham Cross, a London Comprehensive school, helping to direct performance interpretations of poems on the GCSE syllabus. Organised by the English department, this was a meaningful and memorable way to engage with poems that many students at first struggled to grasp.
But beyond English, poetry is also a brilliant way to explore subjects across the curriculum. With individual classes, I have co-ordinated group poems about maths, science and local history and many others.
Poetry can also be part of a response to your local environment. One of the highlights of my Creative Partnership project at Freda Gardham School in Rye (alongside artists Len Shelley and John Knowles) was an evening of star-gazing on the beach of Camber Sands, where pupils also launched their own balloon poetry into the sky. While at Bourne School, in nearby Eastbourne, we took a trip on a boat, from which pupils launched their own small ship of poems, later found docked on the shore at Brighton. We also flew a kite covered in haiku poems.
Working with a poet can be a good way of exploring emotions at a time of change.
Back In 2007, I worked with eleven Year 6 classes across five different primary schools from Newhaven and Peacehaven in Sussex to write original lyrics in response to the issue of transition, inspired by the libretto of the Benjamin Britten opera "Albert Herring". We were thinking particularly about how the young people were feeling about moving to their new schools the following term. The young people then worked with artists from Glyndebourne Education to compose the score, while I wrote additional lyrics to link the songs into the narrative devised by the children. The piece was performed to a live audience in March 2008 by professional musicians and opera singers alongside the young people, all then in Year 7 and at their new schools.
Over the years, I have worked with schools to explore a variety of poetic forms, using a mixture of fun and playful methods to engage young people and de-mystify the writing process.
For Medway Council Arts Department, I worked with Year 5 students to study, write and perform haiku poems in an inter-school celebration of local born Samari Will Adams and the links between Medway and Japan.
Poetry Judge/Slam competitions
For three years I was the judge of The Canterbury Schools Poetry Competition, choosing the winning poems which were later displayed on buses throughout the district. I also performed and ran workshops with pupils on a special poetry bus.
I have also been involved in creating and devising Slam Poetry sessions in schools to add some competitive excitement to the creative process.
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