Lots of class and individual poems created at Hollin Primary School


Two great days at Hollin Primary School this week. Thanks everyone. Nicely captured in the twittersphere:

Curie, Pankhurst and Wonderwoman in Hull


I was thrilled to be invited back to spend 3 days in Thoresby Primary School last week. It is the second time I have been part of their Kaleidoscope festival. Once again pupils and staff gave a hundred percent and we produced class poems about Marie Curie, Emmeline Pankhurst, Fairtrade, India… and all sorts of heroes.

During this fortnight of exciting activities, the aim is to promote cultural awareness and confront equal opportunities issues in a positive way with a ‘celebration of diversity’. This year’s theme was heroes and people who have made a difference. Thoresby are prolific on social media, so I am including a few of their many tweets to give a flavour of the work produced.

I also spent a day in Stepney Primary School. The teacher who booked me remembered me doing a performance of my poem Orange Socks in a previous school. It is several years since I performed there last. I received a very warm welcome. I gave a performance to the whole school and then led workshops for KS2. They are taking part in a poetry slam shortly, and these workshops were to help get them started. I am sure they will do well. Break a leg!

Thanks again to both schools for a great time and such creative energy.

New video for KS1 Poetry classes – I like what I like I do

I’ve used this song for many years and find it works very well as a template for children to work on their own ideas, putting in the things that they like and looking for rhymes. As a special Christmas gift we’ve turned it into a video.

UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy reads a Human Bee in Hunmanby

Portrait image of Carol Ann DuffyI was very fortunate to be one of 120 people in the intimate audience at Hunmanby Community Centre last night for a poetry evening. Carol Ann Duffy, one of the most significant names in contemporary British poetry, read a selection of her older and more recent work, accompanied in a couple by the very entertaining woodwind musician, John Sampson, who also performed in her breaks on an abundant array of older and more recent woodwind instruments.

As I’d had the tickets for some time, in preparation, I had been rereading my Carol Ann Duffy collection, and was pleased to hear her perform some that were already familiar to me. I was enlightened by her introductions, explaining where she drew her inspiration and what references and nuances there were in the words.  I particularly like her use of list-like poems and admire her word craft, how she places rhymes in less formal spaces… and her comic timing. I hadn’t realised that “The Counties” (in “The Bees”) was a protest inspired by the Post Office’s campaign to lose the county from postal addresses, because of its distraction from the post code.

But I want to write to the National Poet of Wales at Ceredigion
in celebration
and I want to write to the Dorset Giant
in admiration
and I want to write to a widow in Rutland
in commiseration
and to the Inland Revenue in Yorkshire
in desperation

I’m sure I’ve drunk in a lot of the traditional pubs listed so fluidly in “John Barleycorn”. Carol Ann read quite a few others from her last published anthology (“The Bees” 2011), which has a thread running through of the environmental concerns of the loss of bees. “The Human Bee” (in the title of this post) refers to people in China who have the job of pollinating fruit trees by hand because they have no bees to do it any more.

I became a human bee at twelve,
when they gave me my small wand,
my flask of pollen,
and I walked with the other bees
out to the orchards.

New video ‘Zoot’ for National Poetry Day 4 October

In 2012, UK National Poetry Day is on Thursday 4 October.  The theme is STARS.  Be a star, read, write or buy some poetry.

New video ‘I’m a cat’

This is a new song, written to order. Cats are always a popular topic and this one seems to work well even with younger pre-school children.

Video of Summer

Did some more recording at the weekend, and my good friend Karen has made another video for me. It’s a lot of fun making these and all with easily available equipment and software. Captures the warm weather, don’t you think?

Video of Explode by Bernard Young

Adding some new strings to the bow, new media to the repetoire, new audience opportunities. This poem/song is one that I often use to open up a day workshop. It works very well for audience participation and can go on for far longer than this version, which was recorded at home. Thanks to Karen for making it into a video and all of the people whose photos are on here for making them available under Creative Commons licence.

Link to Animoto version.