The excitement when the South West Regional Final kicked off at the Barbican Theatre in Plymouth was amazing! Everyone’s energy was soaring upon arrival and the atmosphere was buzzing whilst the young poets made new friends, break danced and ripped the sleeves off their Shake The Dust t shirts to ‘try and look more eighties.’ The best line I heard when all the schools arrived was from a particularly spirited young poet; “Look can someone please show me to my dressing room; it’s been raining so I need to straighten my hair and now I’d quite like a calming tea”- a girl absolutely after my own heart! The young poets enjoyed a day of workshops including a high energy round of “Consonant Kung Fu” led by Jonny Fluffypunk: and a great performance skills session led by Glenn Carmichael and a valuable vocal lesson led by Mark Laville.   One of the highlights of the day for me was talking to my team after their performance about how their views of poetry had changed. One young fella admitted; ‘truth be told I only got involved in the project to meet hot girls at the Barbican theatre but I’ve really enjoyed the poetry side as well so I’ll definitely carry on writing my own stuff.’ Another girl decided that ‘now I’ve done the slam I love it and can’t wait to perform again. I’m considering ditching the rest of my team, carrying on with the writing and going at it solo à la Geri Halliwell. Poetry is sexy and I know it.’   All the young poets hit the stage with confidence and charisma and they totally smashed it! They all made an impact in their own way and shined for different reasons.

Stoke Damerel were the highest scoring team.

Sir John Hunt won the award for most courageous writing.

Torbridge High – best performance technique; shaking the audiences hands during their Truce poem Voices For Change won the award for best treatment of the Truce theme Brook Green were recognised for the most striking individual line ‘Our friendship is linked like a string of paper dolls … and if I had to cook for you, I’d cook you lobster; because it’s EXPENSIVE!’   Shake The Dust has been an incredible experience, and even though I totally crashed at the end of it like a dead dog at a disco, it was a seriously valuable learning experience for me to assist on the project with an amazingly talented poet and group of hugely creative kids.