Sally Andrews writes:
Monday 27 January finds St Chad's school assembly hall crammed with 160 keen pupils and their teachers listening in rapt attention to some of their peers in Year 6 read out poems written with the inspiration of James Nash, local writer and poet working in the school as part of Headingley LitFest's support for community schools.
Once again the compelling gaze of the sightless clay eyes of a terracotta head used by James inspired children to write about the current LitFest theme of 'Surviving'. They wrote movingly, with wide-ranging vocabulary and read out their work with such mature assurance that it only served to illustrate the value of such opportunities to extend their experiences of poetry, poetic imagery and performance.
As Holly said, “It was very inspiring to hear and see a real poet; it made me want to write more poetry.” Her classmate Hajra added that “Planning the poem and setting out my ideas” had also been exciting. Their class teacher, Ms King, was delighted in the spur for her “pupils to keep writing poetry after James has left his mark on the school” and headteacher Mrs Pratten praised those “wonderful youngsters who showed courage in sharing their work with everybody and who had written in such a thought-provoking way.”
Jo Shapcott – multi-award-winning poet in the main LitFest on 20 March 2014 – it seems you have a lot to beat!