Celebrating National Poetry Day at St Mary’s
Last Thursday, each moment felt imbued with a deeper resonance than usual, each image more worthy of capturing – it must have been National Poetry Day. At St Mary’s, we marked the occasion with a range of lessons, resources and clubs. With students embracing poetry inside and outside of the classroom, we wanted to gather together a few of these moments and the poems that our students created.
The day kicked off with Year 7 creating and rehearsing slam poetry, inspired by performance poets Dreadlock Alien and Benjamin Zephaniah. First, teacher Mr Walker asked the girls to consider the different poetic features that they could include, such as humour, rhythm and rhyme, gestures, imagery, repetition, and emotive language. Then, in small groups, the girls revised their poems from the previous week and set to work turning them into performances, adding sound effects, actions, and varying the pace or rhythm. One poem took the theme of a trip to Disneyland gone wrong (with sound effects for rain), while another described the joy of meeting a girls’ first hamster. They performed their finished poems this Monday.
At lunch, Year 12 Creative Writing Scholar Freya B., who runs a poetry club for younger students, dedicated last week’s session to National Poetry Day. This club has been a fixture at the school, as Freya set out to provide younger students with a space to explore poetry. In the words of one regular attendee,
‘Being able to take time occasionally to be able to express myself, my thoughts and worries through poetry — in a safe space with people who I relate to — is amazing.’
Last week, the students were creating found poems, combining words and images from magazines and newspapers into striking collages. You can see a range of these works below.
Our librarians also curated a display dedicated to poetry, which the girls can dip into, while, coinciding with Black History Month, students have been exploring the cultural productions of black artists, writers and musicians, including the works of poets like John Agard and Grace Nichols. With so much poetic activity across the school, some students have felt inspired outside of their lessons. Nikita N. in Year 7 has written a poem addressing her Jamaican heritage —an issue that she feels strongly about—tying in with Black History Month.
We hope that the girls continue to take inspiration from these activities going forwards. To close, we’d like to share Year 10 student Karla’s acrostic poem in celebration of our town.
Cambridge, rich with culture and history
A place where the lilting shadows creep over chiselled buildings and imposing colleges,
Marigolds, snowdrops, dandelions and pasqueflowers peek over emerald ferns
Brimming with activity, bustling with aliveness
Red splashes drape over the city with buses and telephone-boxes and swaying little poppies
Immersed in the scramble and shouts of the schoolchildren sprinting to catch the shuddering train
Down from the sky the gentle drops fall onto a sea of black umbrellas
Giving the green blades a sweet sip of nectar, all arranged in neat little lines of blooming gardens
Evergreen, ever-sweet city with the pulsing heart of life.