What an inspired idea! Bring children from different primary schools together at a gorgeous venue, set in fabulous grounds, for a day-long poetry festival in the company of three very different poets.
The idea was Chloe Garner’s. She’s the Director of the – very wonderful – Ledbury Poetry Festival.
The gorgeous venue was Hellens Manor, in Much Marcle, Herefordshire, not a million miles down the road from Ledbury:
The grounds are gorgeous, both formal:
And more wild:
And the poets were me:
and Rob Gee (who I kept meaning to take a snap of, but didn’t get around to!)
We three poets performed for the children and with the children, we put on poetry writing and performance workshops, and we all came together at the end of the day to listen to the children performing their new work.
Then we did something very similar the next day (with different children).
And the children? What did they make of it all?
Well, here’s the – completely unsolicited – letter one of the children gave me:
Can’t ask for much more than that!
And the grown-ups? What did they think? Here’s some feedback from one of the accompanying mums:
‘What a joy it was to join my son’s primary school and 2 other schools for a
Festival of poetry at Hellens Manor.
A trip out of school to such a beautiful yet friendly location was a great
start to engaging the children but then a day of hard listening, thinking
and writing really got them buzzing and creating. The three so different but
excellent poets performed wonderfully right from the start as the children
asked questions; then listened to the funny, serious, challenging and even
slightly naughty material; then enjoyed three absorbing workshops and
finally performed their own work to their friends and new friends, using a
Conversations and laughing about the poetry continued in the car and I
believe was taken up next day in lesson plan changes by their teachers.
If days like these don’t get children realising that writing and poetry can
be so rewarding, fun and exciting, I don’t know what will.’
As for me … I found it a very enriching and inspiring experience, in a location so beautiful that I could quite happily have stayed there for ever and ever and ever …!
Fortunately, Chloe is hoping to put on a similar events in the future. Next time she invites me, I may just have to refuse to leave the premises at the end of it all …