Thursday, 29 October 2015


Tuesday I went back to Clairwood Secondary School, a school I visited the first week I was here with Poetry Africa.

I had an amazing time.The teacher Simi who invited me back is so sweet and dedicated and I have nothing but admiration for her and teachers like her who work so hard to teach and inspire and even mother the children they work with.

The first class of the day was just finishing when I arrived so I performed a quick 5 min set for them. I performed Poetry Addict, and the Granny scene from RAISING LAZARUS. I encouraged them to speak to their relatives and collect stories, as their stories were important, interesting and the truth.The first class had a couple of girls who had seen me previously and I got lovely hugs and compliments from them. I tell you working with kids pulls on my heartstrings constantly.

The second class I had for an hour. I performed poems and answered questions.

I performed, Poetry Addict, Tube Rage, Granny, Rise Dark Girls and Does My Anger Scare You.

There was a question about what England was really like and I was honest, honest about the racism, honest about the opportuniteis, honest about the fact that kids get free bus passes and do not have to walk to school like they do. I talked about police brutality and my experience of it.

When I performed Rise Dark Girls Rise, I got all the girls up and to the front of class, and had them singing the chorus, it was a lovely moment.

It was an inspired morning, you know the schools bring you in to inspire, but it’s the opposite… the pupils end up inspiring you.

I invited the pupils to perform as well and two boy's kindly obliged.The first boy that performed was a mixed raced boy whose poems touched on that. 

The second boy was a tall black boy who looked down at the floor the whole time but who had the most commanding deep voice, His poems dealt with overcoming difficulties. Later on I found out he is usually very shy, sits at the front of the class and has nothing to say!

I gave them both one of my poetry books to say thank you for being brave enough to perform.

Another boy came up to me and begged for a book, said he was too shy to perform could he please have a book…. how could I say no.

The last two weeks have been a challenge, all the debate and discussion and arguing, with Iain Ewok Robinson, the white artist I am working on the play with, at times I have been drained and frustrated, but Tuesday morning revitalised and reenergised me and reminded me of the importance of the work I am doing.

When you talk to a teacher who is struggling to keep pupils in school, who has pupils so poor they cannot afford the bus fare, and kids leaving school with no education but leaving with two babies. When the resources you have are so limited that many of your pupils will not leave school able to read or write.

                                            Simi and I, this teacher is amazing, warm and inspiring.

When you have pupils who are forced to be educated in a language that is not their first language, so they will always be behind. That is inspiring, that is humbling, that is motivating.

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