‘Expect the unexpected.’ That’s been proven to be so true for me, this year! Covid-19 has brought extreme challenges for many of us but I can definitely see how my work has grown, through it.
As I was no longer able to meet face-to-face with our DGS Young Writers group after March this year, we grew into an online group. Many of the year 9 and 10 writers have been working with me, and keeping up with each other ‘virtually’ and working with them has been a genuine joy! Thank you to all of them, for their resilience, mutual support and encouragement, during lockdown.
I’m immensely proud of them and their writing, and we launched our Lockdown Poetry Anthology on June 30th. If you haven’t read it yet, then please go and check it out, here.
It’s also been fantastic to keep mentoring our school Poet Laureates, remotely. Iris and Keira have written some deeply thought-provoking, feeling poems this year – well done to them both and I’d like to wish Iris good luck as she moves on into Year 12.
In terms of my own writing, I reached a milestone in June, completing another long narrative poetry sequence. It’s satisfying when you get some thing to the point of pre-publication completion! More on that next year. My poetry book ‘Winter with Eva’ is still available to buy direct from V Press, or I’d be delighted to personally send you a signed copy! Just get in touch.
I’d like to end the year with a poem from our Lockdown Anthology, which opens up for us what school can be like, and how vital home can be. It’s by young poet Claire Hague, in Year 9.
One of the best bits of my role as Patron of Writing, is to publish new work by the young writers I have the privilege of mentoring.
Today, I get to share the latest work from talented year 11 student, Iris Rogers. This is my third year working with Iris and it’s been amazing to watch her development and to support her on her writing journey.
Frustratingly, our St Birinus School Poet Laureates didn’t get the chance to perform their poems to the school community this term, due to school closures. However, school closures definitely don’t stop us from being, from thinking and creating … and here’s the proof:
Please take a moment to stop and take in this latest commissioned poem, from SBS Upper School Poet Laureate Jake McGhee, who was writing in response to the commission theme: risk.
Please share it too! (With thanks, on behalf of Jake.)
Following on from yesterday’s post about the stunning poetry being written at Didcot Girls’ School by their two young Poet Laureates, I’m chuffed to tell you that, this school year, St Birinus School has two official poets of their own to shout about!
At the risk of sounding like a cracked record, I’m very much enjoying mentoring these two impressive poets! They constantly surprise me by the depth and maturity of their subject choices and craftsmanship. It’s a lot of fun sitting down together and talking poetics and performance!
Please take a look at their latest work, which they’ll be performing in front of packed audiences of staff and students at St Birinus School.
So today and tomorrow, I’ll be showcasing the latest work by the incredibly talented young poets, who earned the title ‘Poet Laureate’ earlier this year, in their schools.
It’s a genuine privilege to be able to work closely with these writers, as part of my role as Patron of Writing at Didcot Girls’ School and Saint Birinus School.
Starting today with DGS, here are our two young poets: Keira Mason (left, year 8) and Iris Rogers (year 11).
I meet Keira and Iris every term (six times over the course of the school year), to work with them on refining their work, to give them their new poetry commission and to coach them in rehearsing prior to their poetry performances. In between these face-to-face meetings, we keep in contact by e-mail, and I send them feedback on their early drafts, as well as hand-selected poems that I think will inspire and challenge them.
I’m delighted to share their latest pieces with you! These were written in response to the commission ‘Risk Taking’ and the young Laureates have performed these in front of year group audiences, at Didcot Girls’ School (which is another impressive achievement).
I’m now 8 hours and 180 students in to my poetry workshops at Didcot Girls’ School, with year 9. It’s been brilliant, and there’s still more to come.
There has been a vast amount of creativity, imagination and powerful writing in all the sessions. I’ve been lucky enough to work with all groups across the prior attainment spectrum. The young writers are all phenomenal.
As well as writing, we’ve had rich discussions about poetic form, where poems come from and how we might start to write them.
This blog post is a micro showcase of some of their writing. All these drafts were written playfully and experimentally, in under 15 minutes, in response to reading Mary Jean Chan’s ‘Safe Space’ sequenced poems, from her latest collection, ‘Fleche.’
With my Didcot Girls’ School Patron of Writing hat on, I had a lot of fun planning a poetry takeover for National Poetry Day. The students explored the life and words of environmental activist, Greta Thunberg, and wrote poems inspired by her, around the theme of climate change.
Please enjoy these poems, created by year 9 student, Paulina Sieczka, during the takeover session (with huge thanks to Paulina, for letting me share them!)