As a teacher working in a mainstream secondary school (Academy), I get the opportunity to work with young people consistently over long expanses of time, seeing them in situations where they feel relatively comfortable and safe. As a workshop facilitator, I get to see young people in short bursts, being stretched to be creative in a way that they are not used to, or stretched to focus that creativity to produce an end product in a short space of time. What I rarely get to do is see my students, who I have had time to develop relationships with, and an understanding of, in this higher pressure, yet more relaxed and fun, creative environment. In the last week of July this year, this all changed.
As part of a transition curriculum, where the timetable was collapsed and a number of staff members ran a variety of sessions (from ‘Mocktail Making’ to ‘Rangoli Drawing’); I ran BRAP Workshops. Now, I was already gassed about the opportunity to introduce my students, to a side of me they had only really heard me talk about and, more importantly, introduce them to a side of themselves that they may not know exists… But things just went from good to great, when my home girl Luci Hammans gave a call and asked could she come in and get involved!!!! Err…. Let me think… YES!
If you don’t know who Luci is, she is one half of the absolutely amazing poetic double act known as ‘Unhindered Reign’. If you’ve never heard of Unhindered Reign, well… as soon as you are done slapping yourself, look them up. Thank me later!
Our workshops, one AM, one PM considered of just over two hours of work and play. I started off with introducing the basic structure of writing a rap, and challenging the young creatives to write something… anything and they did, from cheesecake, to football, to family. They wrote about it, they performed it and I enjoyed it. Now Luci took over, using opinion continuums and debates to start to get the young people thinking about moral and social issues, it got deep, it got passionate and they came alive. But could they write about it? Could they take the skills they had been looking at in the first hour, along with some additional guidance on non-rhyming poetry, combine this with the social understanding they were now showing and create a piece of poetry? You better believe they could!
Below are just two of the pieces that were created throughout the day. These pieces were written by two girls in year 9, who I already teach on a regular basis. Whilst I know these girls to be intelligent and capable learners, the skill, flair, creativity and compassion that showed in producing these amazing poems in a very short space of time was exceptional, and it only made me more proud to work with them and call them my students. Well done to them.
We finished the session by sign-posting the young people towards BeatFreeks summer academies… If you’re interested in the arts and want to work with some of the best facilitators you could dream to meet, you need to look up BeatFreeks and check their summer academies out. As I write this, on the 10th August, there is still time to look it up and get involved this summer. Trust me, you can thank me for that later too!
All that is left to do is read and enjoy the pieces below, the initials next to the titles represent the writers.
Well done girls, you the real MVPs.
The Nasty Men – E.D.
When people are willing,
to do the killing,
they find it thrilling,
so they keep spilling,
out with the violence,
and they mistake the silence,
It’s out of fear,
and that single tear,
could be the gear,
to change the rest of your life,
the slice of the knife,
the crack of the whip,
the sound of the gun. BANG!
Another innocent life gone,
the thought it so vile,
i eel the bile,
rising up my throat,
and i think it’s extreme,
but what does mean,
to travel miles,
to take the smiles,
from children’s faces.
A sharp intake of breath,
to register the gun,
you don’t have time to run,
so you think of family,
that their normality,
can be your reality.
But it’s them,
it’s the nasty men,
coming to kill again.
Long Lonely Train – L.B
How you feel if you were hurting inside?
All for that evil, sick pride,
You’ve asked hime to stop, you’ve already tried,
He doesn’t even notice the tears that you’ve cried,
He takes advantage of your innocence,
Your mind’s going mad, but you stand there in silence,
You can’t cope anymore with this violence,
But you know there’s more if you call up the sirens.
You once thought you were beautiful,
You soon learned that was unsuitable,
His actions became more dutiful,
And your screams became part of a musical.
What has he got to gain,
Besides seeing you in unbearable pain,
You know, it’s hard to explain,
When this abuse is a long and lonely train.