Only 25 days to go until National Poetry Day on 28 September

National Poetry Day 2017 25 days to go Bernard Young

I’m looking forward to a trip up to Newcastle-upon-Tyne to do a workshop on National Poetry Day at Atkinson Road Primary Academy. They booked me through Authors Aloud, one of the sites that I’m registered with. I can also be booked direct via the contact page on this website. I do still have some availability before and after 28th September, if you want a school visit.

National Poetry Day is an annual event. Usually it is the first Thursday in October, but it was brought forward by a week this year. I have written more about this previously here, so I won’t repeat myself. There are some ideas for lessons on the theme of Freedom on that post, and also there are lots of ideas and resources on the National Poetry Day website for teachers planning lessons.

I hope you all can say it with a poem every day, but especially on National Poetry Day!

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Hull City of Culture, National Poetry Day and the Theme of Freedom

Freedom definition National Poetry Day Theme 2017 Bernard Young
Please scroll down for lesson ideas, a video and text of my poem.

Hull, City of Culture

I was very pleased when I learnt that Hull was going to be City of Culture for 2017. I’ve visited most schools in Hull over the years, and know the city well. When I stayed a few days in 2016 to visit Thoresby Primary School, the city centre was in a state of major refurbishment in preparation for all of the activities. The arts and cultural programme for the year celebrates the unique character of the city, its people, history and geography. I think it will be very good for the city and people. You can read more about the City of Culture on their website, https://www.hull2017.co.uk/.

National Poetry Day

This year National Poetry Day is on Thursday 28 September – a little earlier than usual. This is because the organisers, Forward Arts Foundation, are working closely with the BBC and Hull City of Culture on “a celebration that will ensure still more are involved closely in enjoying, discovering and sharing poetry, all year round.”

National Poetry Day Theme Freedom 28 Sept 2017

Freedom Theme

The theme of Freedom is prominent in Hull, because of the sadness about previous prosperity linked to the slave trade, and the celebration of William Wilberforce, a native of the city, whose leadership of the movement opposing slavery eventually led to its abolition in the British Empire, through the Slavery Abolition Act 1826.

Throughout the year of culture there are events linked to the theme Freedom, including the Freedom Festival, 1-3 September 2017.

Using the Theme of Freedom on School Visits

Last week I visited Cavendish Primary School in Hull. After giving a performance to the whole school, I led poetry workshops on the theme of Freedom with foundation and year 1 classes before lunch, and with year 4 in the afternoon.

“Lots of lovely feedback from the classes you’ve been with today and we (foundation stage) wrote our own poem in the afternoon.” Karen Richardson, Cavendish School.

I also visited Thoresby Primary School, Hull, in May this year for the third consecutive year. Freedom was a theme we focussed on in 2015. Last year we covered Heroes, and this year we concentrated on one of Hull’s famous daughters, the boxer, Barbara Buttrick (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Buttrick).

Lesson Ideas for Poetry Linked to Freedom

There are some ideas for a lesson using one of my poems below, and more ideas like this are available from the National Poetry Day website, http://nationalpoetryday.co.uk/education/. The suggestion below is intended to be a part of wider lessons and discussion about the definition of freedom and different ways to be free or not free.

Watch this video of my poem ‘Summer‘:

Read the poem aloud again after watching the video (full text below). Ask pupils questions like:

  • How does the poem make you feel?
  • How do you think the person speaking in the poem feels?
  • Have you ever felt this free?
  • What other things do you like doing that make you feel this free?
  • How does the poem sound different being read on the page and having the music and pictures?

Encourage the children to think about words and phrases. Write things they suggest on post-it notes or on the board.

When I work with younger children, we often compose a class poem, with a tune, but music isn’t necessary.

If you use this poem as a model, it doesn’t need to be about football. Your opening line could start with “You” or “We” or “I” and be about another subject.

For example:

  • “I’ve finished doing my homework, and now I’m going to…” or
  • “I’ve finished tidying my room, and now I’m going to…”

For older children, I give the option of working alone, or in a pair or (with the teacher’s approval!) in groups of 3 or 4, to write their own similar poem.

You could ask the students to look at the pattern of this poem, and look at which lines rhyme and which don’t. Also ask them to listen to the rhythm of the syllables.

I find it is also a good part of the lesson if finished poems are read out at the end, either the teacher reading them, or, better still, the writers.

I hope this all gives you some ideas. If you would like me to come along to your school for your own performance and poetry workshops, please contact me.

Summer by Bernard Young

You’ve finished playing football
You’re lying on the grass
Thinking about the goal you scored
Reliving that brilliant pass

Summer is the future
School is in the past
This is a perfect moment
If only it would last

Just you and your mates relaxing
In the heat after the game
Everyone’s a winner
You all feel the same

Summer is the future
School is in the past
This is a perfect moment
If only it could last

This poem is covered by copyright. You may use a copy of it in your class, but not reproduce it in any publication without prior permission. I’d love to see any poems inspired it.

Koalas, Kangaroos, Pandas and Freedom in Thoresby

Classroom

What a hub of enthusiasm and creativity I walked into when I entered Thoresby Primary School, last week. It was great to be back in Hull and I spent three rewarding days in the school as part of their Kaleidoscope festival. This resulted in lots of new poems being written on the theme of Freedom, as well as poems about koalas, kangaroos, pandas (and a variety of other animals) and poems triggered by inspirational quotes from Nelson Mandela, Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

OutdoorsWe also composed several class poems to my guitar accompaniment, and a Year 6 class performed theirs outdoors on my last day to an audience of parents and children.

So thank you to all the children and staff for such a warm welcome and for three exciting days (and three fine lunches!). I enjoyed my time in all the classrooms (and in the staff room). There’s already been talk of me returning to work there again, so I’ll be more than happy to do that if the call comes.

HallBernard playing guitar