Friday, 26 February 2016

Helen Mort with Year 6 at Ireland Wood Primary School

 Richard Wilcocks writes:
Year 6 teacher Adrienne Amos with poet Helen Mort
They must have been nervous, but they did not show it as they sat on chairs in an arc, the whole Year 6 class, not one member of it without a poem to read. Behind them, a beautiful and extensive display on large boards - the final drafts of the same poems, many illustrated. In front of them on the floor, Year 5 watching and listening, knowing that they will be doing the same thing next year, during the LitFest. And sitting beyond Year 5, two rows of parents. The readers were divided into three sections, because it had been decided to concentrate on best beginnings, best middles and best endings. Because the theme was what might happen if you had a superpower - the ability to fly - this became (more or less) taking off, observing the world below and landing.

Before they began, Helen Mort read one of her own poems - Talk of the Town - which deals with her home town of Chesterfield, football and community spirit (try to ignore the background noise as she reads it here in another primary school) for the benefit of the parents and Year 5. She had read it three weeks previously to Year 6, along with Stainless Steven and Made in Derbyshire, two other poems from her recent collection Division Street. The pupil readings followed, and the faces of the listeners, especially those of the parents, changed visibly as the performance progressed, indicating increasing involvement and wonder as the words flowed from the children's mouths. Confidence built up well, so that few of the poems were rushed, most voices were loud enough and telling images were conveyed. It was a great success, a tribute to the work of Helen Mort in the workshop sessions. Class teacher Adrienne Amos praised her to the hilt.

Drafting a poem   Photos by Richard Wilcocks

During the last workshop with the class, when most of the poems were almost complete in draft form, Helen had impressed on the pupils the importance of endings. "Every flight needs a landing," she said. "Finalising a poem is like landing a plane. You've got to get it just right." All of the ten and eleven year-old poets landed well in Ireland Wood Primary School's main hall, with no casualties, and all of them flew superbly. In fact, they did more than merely fly. They soared.

Audience Comments
I really enjoyed listening to the children reading their own poetry. Such imagination was very impressive.

The work the children in Year 6 produced was outstanding. Working with Helen Mort the poet has inspired the children to write some incredible poems.

Absolutely fantastic. I'm amazed with the words/poem my son and the other children wrote.

Lovely to see what the children have been learning. Very enjoyable to watch.

Fantastic event sharing parts of the poems the children have written - really great work.
Whiteboard for a workshop

Really enjoyed the rhymes the children at Ireland Wood Primary School did.

Some fantastic ideas of how the children see Leeds through their own eyes.

My grandaughter read a poem at school, which she wrote. Listening to each child it was great to know that poems are still written and read in school. Keep up the good work!

It was a good event. I liked all the kids' poems.

I enjoyed all the children saying all the poems. Would have liked to hear all of them.

Some very good poems.

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