Friday, 5 December 2014

'Own Your Words' at Ralph Thoresby School

Sally Bavage writes:
Two dynamic teachers at Ralph Thoresby School, Kate Wolstenholme and Tom Stubbs, have got a great group of young people together in a poetry club they named Own Your Words. This started earlier this year and is growing week by week.  They are working towards a poetry slam on 2 April at the end of the main programme of LitFest 2015: Something Else.

Kate said, “Several of the group took part in the Ilkley Literature Festival this year, performing at Otley Courthouse alongside pupils from Leeds Grammar School, Fulneck and Gateways. The group all started off feeling uncomfortable on stage; it's so brilliant to see those same pupils transformed into seasoned performers who own the stage and their words!”

Kate has now secured support for Own Your Words to go on a week-long residential course for young writers run by the Arvon Foundation. Guests include Tiffany Murray and Marcus Sedgwick, both established authors of children’s fiction.

Thanks to a grant from the Outer North West Activities Fund, negotiated as part of the Headingley LitFest community programme of work with at least eight local schools, next term there will also be poetry performance coaching available on alternative Thursdays from 3.05 to 4.30 pm.  Established local poet performers like Michelle Scally Clarke will work with young people in the area who wish to come along and explore techniques for releasing their inner poet, using Ralph Thoresby as a hub venue.

One of the original members of Own Your Words, Nida Naqvi, is now in year 11 and helps run the class as part of her Duke of Edinburgh Award.  “I am very grateful for the opportunity to write poetry; it stimulates my creative mind and helps you grow as a person,” she said. She is a member of Leeds Young Authors ( and a fantastic role model for other young people who now “have gained so much self-knowledge and self-confidence they even volunteer to speak in assemblies.”   Emma Blane agreed, adding that the poetry sessions  “Are really fun, it gets your imagination going.”


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