“Imaginative and original”: QE’s young poets

Award-winning poet and Old Elizabethan Anthony Anaxagorou has helped current pupils explore the power of poetry in a special six-week workshop.

The first cohort of Year 9 and 10 boys has now completed the after-school sessions, which were led by poet-in-residence Anthony (OE 1994–1999) and facilitated by School Librarian Ciara Murray.

Anthony said: “The poems produced by the students over the six weeks showed they have an acute eye for locating the poetry in everyday occurrences, as well as the more nuanced or complex. Their writing was highly imaginative, broad and impressively original.”

Anthony has published several volumes of poetry and essays. In 2015, he won the Groucho Maverick Award.

In the workshops, the boys were given a prompt or exercise every week and encouraged to write a poem in 15 minutes. They then shared their work with the group.

""One early exercise required participants to think of ordinary nouns such as table, window, sky, and then assign unexpected adjectives to them. They then had to create a poem using as many of them as possible. As they grew in confidence, boys also began to move away from the traditional idea that poetry has to rhyme, and explored the importance of metaphor when writing a successful poem.

The boys also spent one session analysing a poem by the current Oxford Professor of Poetry, Simon Armitage, entitled It’s Not What You Do, It’s What It Does to You, and then wrote their own versions. “Poetry is not just about getting the right answers; it’s about how it makes you feel” said Anthony.

""He introduced the boys to different methods of performance and what they needed to think about when reading their work out loud.
Finally, they were asked to choose one or two of their best pieces to edit in the final session, with individual input from Anthony. Their final choice of poems will be submitted to the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Competition 2017.

The workshop participants were:

  • Year 10: Tobi Durojaiye; Hamza Khan; Yusuf Salih; Saifullah Shah and Jamie Watkin-Rees
  • Year 9: Senthuran Jeevan; Dominic Kumaresan; Ayodimeji Ojelade; Christopher Reid; Jack Runchman; Eashan Sehdev, Kapilan Sivanesan and Adhil Sunil Kumar.

“I was hugely impressed with what the boys were able to come up with in such a short space of time, and it was great to see their individual styles developing and their confidence growing as the workshop progressed,” said Ms Murray

The workshops will run for another six weeks from 6th June for aspiring poets in Year 8.

Below are three poems produced during the workshops.

The Little Things in LIfe by Jack Runchman

Solitary Sea by Kapilan Sivanesan

When Freedom Fell from the Sky by Saifullah Shah