Last month, the National Literacy Trust and Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin invited primary and secondary schools in West Yorkshire to take part in a series of poetry writing and performance events, as part of West Yorkshire Poetry Week (20 – 24 March).
Nearly 150 schools across Bradford, Leeds, Kirklees, Calderdale and Wakefield signed up to take part in the exciting week-long programme of poetry activity which set out to inspire the next generation of young poets across the region.
This included lively and interactive workshops with poets David Driver, Lence, Rose Condo, Simone Yasmin, Mohamed Saloo, Jamie H Scrutton, Irene Lofthouse, Zara Sehar, Sharena Lee-Satti, Ruvimbo Togara, Seki Lynch, Natalie Anastasia Davies, Laura Baldwin, Simon Mole, and musician and storyteller Gecko. The workshops explored the poetry writing process from finding inspiration, to composing a draft and editing for performance and publishing.
Across the week, children and young people took part in:
- A World Poetry Day celebration event broadcast from Lower Fields Delta Primary Academy and Bradford Academy on Tuesday 21 March
- In-person and online events with 11 poets
- An ideas and inspiration gathering remote workshop with local poet and Project Manager Sharena Lee Satti
- A creative careers panel event with over 10 industry experts, broadcast from Kirklees Local Television Studio on Thursday 23 March
- Classroom resources to bring the energy of contemporary poetry to the classroom and build a culture of writing for pleasure across schools.
On Tuesday 21 March, also World Poetry Day, Mayor Tracy Brabin hosted an exclusive Q&A about careers in the creative industries. Speaking to students from Bradford schools, she touched on her own journey from writing for and starring on TV, to becoming MP for Batley and Spen, and then the first Mayor of West Yorkshire, during the fun-filled day.
West Yorkshire Poetry Week is run by the National Literacy Trust and delivered with support from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. It aims to emphasise the joy and fun of poetry, and build the confidence and communication skills of participating children and young people.
“We have set out to build a culture of writing across our schools and inspire a life-long enjoyment of poetry. “We believe that anyone can be a poet, because everyone has something to say. We hope that this programme of activity will encourage young people to express their thoughts and feelings, and find their voice as writers. We will celebrate each and every one of them as the poets and creators that they are.”Sharena Lee Satti, Poet and Project Manager at the National Literacy Trust
This important week is inspiring young people throughout West Yorkshire to find joy in poetry and creativity. It’s fantastic that so many are getting a chance to achieve a brighter future, with greater literacy skills and confidence. “The search to find our first Young Poet Laureate has begun - I look forward to welcoming the next generation of talent.”Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire
All participating schools will be encouraged to enter their budding poets into a region-wide competition to appoint West Yorkshire’s first-ever Young Poet Laureates. The two young laureates, one in primary and one in secondary school, will be in post for a year once selected. They will have the opportunity to learn from and engage with Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and Mayor Tracy Brabin in their duties and attend a number of key cultural events which they will be commissioned to write poems about.
A programme to support young laureates was originally the brainchild of the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, who is also spearheading an ambitious project to establish a National Poetry Centre in Leeds that delivers benefit to people of all ages and backgrounds.