After only three sessions, the Shake the Dust team from  South East already act like professionals. At the assembly, just before breaking up for the Easter holidays, the budding slammers performed a poem in front of the whole school.

Going to a sports college means the students are well familiar with the Olympic and Paralympic values of respect, excellence, friendship, courage, determination, inspiration and equality, but to write a poem on an abstract theme can be a real challenge.

Poet coach Mike Parker and I encouraged the students to have a look round the school to see if they could find images for friendship. The result was amazing. Who would think that a bourbon biscuit and a custard cream biscuit would be friends? We kept to the food theme for the final version of the friendship poem, including rhyming items like “fish and chips” and “nachos with dips”.

Mixing funny playful stuff with more serious issues seem to be a winning formula. We usually start each workshop with a game and then move on to more poetic thinking. The students are really good at alliteration, having their own alliterated stage names. Mike set the example by calling himself “Magnificent Mike”, or “Mangled Mike” which was the case after he’d bitten his tongue … I’m “Lazy Lou” or “Laughing Lou” depending on my form. The students names are much better…but you will have to wait for the final!