• “Poetry is rubbish mate. I can’t do it anyway, I just don’t do poetry.” You will be surprised how deeply those words can impact, and how much they inspire you to prove that anyone is capable of writing something meaningful. Almost as much as it makes you start doubting the term “poetry” as a welcoming term.
  • It’s one year 9 boy, sweating out a 4 line list poem about the beauty of an Arsenal’s free-kick via Van Persie which will remain with you far longer than anything else you end up seeing on youtube that week.
  • Poems that are able to make you laugh and entertain, while expressing something vividly personal to the writer that can universally move people are forever my favourite poems.
  • 70 year 9’s/10’s packed into one assembly hall, staring at you nervous and unsure as to what is about to be asked of them by a grinning poet coach and his ready-to-get-stuck-in shadow, will always feel like an awful lot of year 9’s/10’s. That’s because it is.
  • Watching a teacher who clearly believes in their students, watching them perform a piece in front of their peers, noticing the way they (the teacher) learn something about those students through what they are expressing that may influence aspects of their teaching, the way they teach or remind them of the unique voice each student carries in amongst the sea of faces they teach daily.
  • A poet coach’s keep-you-on-your-toes right to change the rules to a warm-up game just when every student has grasped them because “that’s life” is for sure unfair on a shadow who was still trying to understand the original rules. ;)
  • The right to ‘allow’ swearwords when writing, but explaining there are always more specific and ways to convey that given emotion, is a challenging yet dynamic way of getting everyone thinking about language and the power we give to certain words.
  • ‘Shake The Dust’ is a perfect mantra I keep in my bones during any part I’ve played in workshops, interacting with young people, those around the school and anyone connected within the project:

It’s about knowing the capacity in everyone to have a story, something to say, and to be as interested in what that is, as what you wish to say yourself.