Hello! The hippie in the picture above is me: Andy Bennett poet, comedian, and East Region Digital Champion for Shake The Dust. I’m quite excited to be a Digital Champion, as it makes me sound rather dashing, like a 21st Century Robin Hood, only with YouTube clips instead of arrows. I’m working with the lovely and talented Molly Naylor at Sheringham High School on the North Norfolk coast, one of the top schools in the region, but a little too far from the chip shops for my liking.

It’s been really thrilling to be a part of this project. I’m sure most poets can remember the first time they really ‘got’ poetry, the first time the power of words really hit them. I certainly can at school in Yorkshire, when my English teacher Mrs Galloway first got me to read Shelley’s sonnet Ozymandias. For a young (and predictably nihilistic) teenager, the bleak descriptive simoom of the ending “boundless and bare / The lone and level sands stretch far away” grabbed me in a way no words ever had before. And it’s that wonder and wide-eyed excitement that I’m hoping to be able to share with the children of Sheringham, and the whole reason I wanted to be involved in this project.

Molly and I have done three sessions so far: the first day to nearly 90 children, and the take-up was so good we had to draw the names of the last 20 out of a hat! In the second two sessions, we’ve covered aspects of writing and of performance, and as I write this, hopefully our group is putting their final touches to their works for the Slam we’re running tomorrow to select the final eight that will perform at the Regional Final. Can’t wait to see what they come up with.

Well, that’s about enough from me. I’ll be back next month with an update on how the group is getting on, plus all the tips, tricks, and gossip from the other teams in the East region. Bye for now!