Published on 02/11/23
One of the ways in which we kick off the Autumn Term here at the Senior School is by marking National Poetry Day. This year, we were fortunate to be visited by two prized poets, Mark Grist and Lewis Buxton, who visited us on consecutive days and worked with students from Year 7 to Year 8.
Visiting the Senior School for the very first time on a sunny Wednesday morning, our Year 8 students were enraptured by Mark’s unique style of poetry in the form of a ‘rap-battle’! Students were intrigued to hear of Mark’s experience of performing ‘rap-battles’ across the world, and they listened attentively to Mark’s amusing poem of the ‘what ifs’ from concocting potions comprised of vinegar, bleach, and shampoo, all in the style of a young teenage boy, which was warmly appreciated by the students and staff alike.
Upon reflection, students felt Mark’s performance encouraged them to be more ‘expressive’ in their style of poetry compositional; and overall, they found Mark’s style of engagement as being refreshingly ‘interactable’ in the way he interspersed the performance of his work with the opportunity of students being able to ask questions.
Overall, our Year 8 students were confident in concluding that Mark’s visit to the Senior School was a resounding success with the students reflecting that Mark’s performance encouraged them to be more ‘expressive’ in their style of poetry composition.
Over the course of an equally sunny Thursday, the Senior School continued its National Poetry Day celebrations with a successful second visit by Lewis Buxton who spent an entire day infusing all students across Year 7 with the magical gift of poetry!
The Year 7s were enraptured by Lewis’ contemporary style of performance poetry which energised all students and staff alike and made them feel positive and engaged throughout the day as Lewis led them through a series of ‘Masterclass Workshops’ specially designed to give students an insightful opportunity in how to construct poems that can be ‘imaginatively innovative’ in style and form.
Ms Edmunds, our Head of Year 9, felt that Lewis’ workshops were of a ‘Good level of energy [with] realistic goals and tasks for the time available. The students produced some outstanding work during their session with Lewis and many came away feeling really boosted by the experience, as well as the chance to use poetry to explore their emotions.’
In addition to this, Lewis’ performance poetry at the beginning of the day was rapturously received with applause and praise from our Year 7s who felt motivated that Lewis had actively connected with them in ‘a funny and engaging way’ through a series of poems that Lewis recited, in addition to fielding a range of questions thrown from our lively group of Year 7s on a whole host of topics from stretching from lyrical technique and musicality found in the songs of Taylor Swift to broad thoughts and reflections on why kindness and empathy should be more valued, and why the power of poetry can be inspiring yet powerful in the conjuring of emotions that we can extract ourselves from through the ignition of the imagination of the mind via the simple movement of a pen.
Mr Fradley, our Teacher of Physics, felt that Lewis’ performance and overall contribution towards the day of the Senior School life from the unique perspective of a Year 7 student had helped to engineer a session that was ‘Highly engaging. It takes quite a skill to hold all of the Year 7s captive for a full hour. Really enjoyed his thoughtful and entertaining poetry and his engaging Q+A session.’ Whereas our Head of English, Ms Kedie, felt strongly that ‘His visit reinforces our belief that getting Lewis to work with the younger ones is the way forward so we can, as teachers, keep throwing poetry their way and hoping they will be more receptive to it as a result of Lewis' visit.’
To cap off, this has been a remarkable week for the Senior School in celebrating National Poetry Day! We have not only felt lucky to have hosted both Mark Grist and Lewis Buxton, but have come away knowing that our students have felt incredibly enriched by what the magic poetry has to offer, and what it can achieve in stoking the imaginative mind, thus freeing it from the shackles of conventional forms of literary style, and yet nourishing it enough to activate the literary imagination of our students across Year 7 and Year 8 and showing them what they can produce through the most traditional though transformative ways of thinking with the power of the pen, and some paper, and some really cool and expressive forms of Poetry!