Thursday, 2 February 2017

Poet Rommi Smith at Ralph Thoresby School

Rommi Smith (with flower basket) and the performers   Photo Richard Wilcocks
Gail Alvarez writes:
No pins dropped here; we would have heard them

The young poets of the 'Own Your Words' group based at Ralph Thoresby, and co-ordinated by teacher Kate Wolstenholme, got to perform the fruits of their labours over the past months.  Original writing and truly wonderful performances, inspired by working with poet, playwright, writer and performance coach Rommi Smith, left a catch in your throat.  Innermost thoughts, personal and revealing, laid on the line and presented to an audience of young peers rapt with attention.  No pins dropped here; we would have heard them.  Such a privilege to hear young people confident in their writing, able to Own Their Words.

Kate had grounded the young people in writing original poetry; Rommi's weekly workshops honed the words and fine-tuned the skills for delivering their writing to an audience.  Performance is key  for poetry– if you don't hear even just a couple of words you may not appreciate the message in a poem that is written to be tightly-focused, elliptical, pithy.  And oh, how the young people repaid the care and love that Rommi and Kate had given the group.  They had trusted, they had worked, and how they delivered.  There was more than one eye a little damp at the end.

The poets were supported by others from Ralph Thoresby too, with songs, music and dance interludes, as well as technical back-up.  And simply a tour de force from Rommi herself who talked of the difference that teachers of poetry (and drama) can make, did make, to her life.  She also performed her own poem on the value of books and libraries.  No wonder she was the first Writer in Residence at the House of Commons; no wonder she receives so many commissions from the BBC, universities here and abroad; no wonder she left the audience simply stunned.

Thanks are due to the Outer NW area management team, especially the local councillors for Adel & Wharfedale, Guiseley & Rawdon, Horsforth and Otley & Yeadon, whose grant financed the poetry workshops.  They really have made a difference.

Of course, the final thanks must go to our poet and performers: Alex B, Alex M, Amy, Berry, Callum, Ellie, Elsa, Emma, Emma, Izzy, Kim, Mia, Mya, Rebecca and Shannon.

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