Our poetry celebrations began with an exciting outing for our Y7 students, who had the privilege of attending the Waterstones Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho’s performance at the festival on Friday, June 30th. Joe’s interactive session was filled with poetry encompassing themes such as fear, courage, diversity, gratitude, empathy, and loss. He shared his inspiration, drawing from the magic of everyday life and the ancient world, while treating us to readings from his acclaimed works. It was a vibrant and enjoyable experience for our Y7 students, made even more special by witnessing the Laureate’s presence in our hometown.
Following that, our Y12 English Literature students had their turn at the festival’s inaugural A Level Study Day, held at the Community Centre in Ledbury. This unique event brought together over 100 students from various schools and colleges across Herefordshire and Worcestershire. Tishani Doshi, the author of “The Deliverer,” a text studied by our students for their A Level, shared her writing process and revisions of poems. This was an extraordinary opportunity for our students to engage with the poet and gain insights into the poem they might write about during their exams; something that definitely can’t happen when you study Keats!
Owen Sheers then focused on climate crisis poetry, sharing his thoughts that led to the establishment of Black Mountains College, leaving students with a sense of “radical hope” (Raymond Williams) for future possibilities of change. Esther Menon from the EdExel Exam Board shed light on the expectations examiners have for analysing unseen poetry—an invaluable resource for our students as they prepare for their future exams.
To conclude the study day, Ruth Stacey from the University of Worcester led a creative writing project where students crafted their own poems. The day was enlightening and inspiring, offering our students a chance to express their creativity and hone their poetic skills.
On Tuesday 4th July, our Y8 students enjoyed an entertaining and engaging poetry session by Steven Camden, also known as Polar Bear. Steven effortlessly made poetry accessible to everyone, demonstrating how simple and enjoyable it is to spark the imagination and generate ideas for writing. A select group of students then had the opportunity to collaborate further with Steven in the school library, exploring and expanding on these newfound inspirations.
Lastly, over the past six weeks, a group of Y7, 8, and 9 students worked closely with Toni Cook in our Crucial Creator Sessions, resulting in the creation of some marvellous poetry. Toni guided and inspired the students, using prompts such as “It’s complicated…” to kickstart their writing process. Throughout the sessions, the students honed their editing skills, perfecting their poems, and also learned how to perform them engagingly and effectively. On Thursday, July 4th, we had the privilege of performing our poems, alongside students from The Chase, Aylestone High School, and The Aconbury Centre, at the Poetry Festival. The session was relaxed and informal, allowing our students to showcase their poetic talents.
We have one final event coming up on the 13th July at the Poetry House where Y7, Y8 and Y9 students will be performing the poems they worked on alongside our Poet in Residence Karl Nova. Tickets are still available and the event starts at 4pm.
As always, John Masefield High School is immensely grateful to the Poetry Festival for its continued support and the exceptional opportunities it provides our students in the realm of creative arts.