A bright and early start took me over the rather beautiful hills to Blackburn while the sun was coming up and before the roads got too busy. I arrived at school and having signed in I was taken to the library to prepare with coffee and a biscuit kindly provided by librarian Carol Holland.
The programme for the morning was to include two sessions for children from Year 8 and one session for children from Year 7. Then I’d have a little time to relax before lunch and an open floor session for students and teachers. With a bottle of water and flipchart at the ready I was ready to begin.
The first 45 youngsters were ushered in and we were ready to roll. I asked them what they had expected a poet to be like, the answers were great:
- They have beards
- They have eyes
- They can talk
- They look like anybody
- They have glasses
- They are highly educated
- They have eyes
- They have a pen
- They are intelligent
A quick chat about messages (the theme for the day) revealed that text messages and various mobile apps were most popular for this group but they were pretty knowledgable about less mode ways of sending messages too. They knew about carrier pigeons, facial expressions, smoke signals and of course the good old letter sent through the post, one even suggested the letters by types on a typewriter.
Soon we were into the swing with poetry starting with Jabberwocky, followed by one of my own poems and then heading off to create a mini production based around Albert and the Lion.
These young people did themselves, and their school, proud being willing to take part, getting thoroughly involved and having a good time too. There were some very impressive performances from fearsome lions, slightly casual parents and a couple of very evasive zoo managers not to mention a trio of Alberts who managed to be eaten extremely well. They also showed great understanding and a real willingness to discuss issues and give considered responses.
The second and third groups were equally engaged and engaging and the morning was flying by in a blur of poems, discussions and lots of questions.
Thats one of the things about young people aged 11 and 12; they are still comfortable asking questions, they don’t worry too much about what you can and what you cannot ask. During the day I was asked lots of questions and some of the best were:
- why are you a poet?
- When did you first start writing poetry?
- Will you read us your favourite poem?
- How long does it take to write a poem?
- How much do poets get paid?
All in all a grand morning sharing my passion for poetry with young people and hopefully igniting a few metaphorical sparks along the way.