Primary poets are well versed in culture capital bid

Wednesday 5 April 2017

Challenged to compose their own poems about the Leeds bid for European Capital of Culture 2023 (Leeds 2023), local primary school children showed that creativity is alive and well in the city.

Taking part in the sixth annual Speak Up poetry day at The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL), four Year 5 pupils from each of seven schools enjoyed a day-long poetry workshop before performing in a poetry slam for family and friends in the evening.

Working with professional poets Khadijah Ibrahim and Rheima Robinson, of Leeds Young Authors, the children learned about the process of creating poetry, looking at writing devices, imagery and mood, and reading the work of other poets, before putting pen to paper themselves.

Khadijah said: “Every year at Speak Up I think about what’s happening in the UK and how we can reflect that in the spoken word. Leeds could be the European Capital of Culture, and I want to find out what the young people know about their city and the culture surrounding them, what it says to them and what makes Leeds so special.”

The poetry slam in the evening involved two rounds. First each team performed a poem, either Love after Love by Derek Walcott or Imagine by Khadijah Ibrahim and Saju Ahmed. In round 2 they performed their own compositions on Leeds 2023.

The judges, Otley town poet Matthew Stoppard and Alan Clayton, retired surveyor (formerly of Education Leeds), awarded three prizes. Overall winner was Richmond House School, the best performance prize went to GSAL Junior School and Carr Manor Primary won the most striking line award for “Tropical World is a firework bursting with life.”

Matthew said: “I was bowled over by the breadth of talent. In round 1 all gave different interpretations of the two poems, showing passion and understanding. In round 2 the poems fitted the theme and gave a clear sense of a welcoming city. It was a really close contest.”

Also taking part in Speak Up were pupils from Beeston Hill St Luke’s C of E Primary School, Westgate Primary School, Otley, Swarcliffe Primary School and St Chad’s Primary School.

Visit our Facebook page to read The Beating Heart of Yorkshire by Anoushka, Leo, Stanley and Trang from GSAL Junior School.

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