25 July 2014
One of the joys of my life is my involvement with the totally excellent Headingley Literature Festival. This has ranged from hosting open mics, giving many readings, and for the last couple of years working in local primary schools in Leeds 6 and beyond.
There were eight schools involved this last year and our theme [with a nod to the First World War] was survival. I had three sessions in each school, one to inspire, one to edit and redraft, with the final session an opportunity for my young poets to share their wonderful writing with other pupils in the school and with their parents.
In terms of working in the community it was simple and effective. It engaged children with the idea of writing, developed key literacy skills and gave them an experience of performance. Their growth in confidence in all areas was remarkable.
The schools were utterly supportive, school staff were terrific, and there were some fabulous displays of the artwork and poetry produced.
There was also something rather wonderful for a mostly travelling poet to work in local schools, one so close I can hear the children playing at breaks and lunch-time from my garden office.
I’m so looking forward to next year’s work in many of the same schools. It demonstrates the effectiveness of building strong partnerships which can be developed further every year. These are after all our future writers, readers and audience members….