Sunday, 8 July 2012

The winners are... Yorkshire!

Members of Ralph Thoresby team at the regional heats
At yesterday afternoon's National Poetry Slam finals, the team from Ralph Thoresby High School in Leeds were hailed as the overall winners. This group works with Sai Murray, our very own poet-facilitator here at Shake! How well deserved it was, and how hard it must have been for the judges to decide.

Because it was an afternoon of amazing talent and some extraordinary moments. The stage crackled with energy, commitment, and craft. Too many fabulous moments from many groups to recall here, but for me one of the things that stood out about the Leeds group was the political content. A lot of groups addressed tough issues but something about the analysis that the Leeds young people brought seemed sophisticated beyond their years, yet so authentic.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

First Wave at 'Shake the Dust'

First Wave at 'Shake the Dust'
Last night's '100% Proof' event showcased the coach mentors for today's National Youth Poetry Slam final plus we also got to see an amazing performance by 'First Wave', a group from the Spoken Word and Hip Hop Learning Community course at University of Wisconsin, Madison (USA). 

This group, now touring the UK, used their own experience of race and racism in the US education system as the basis for this piece. It was mesmerising: a performance of such power, and such polish, and also such rawness, love, humanity. And great tenderness. I went with a friend completely new to this way of working with poetry, and he was overwhelmed by it. The slam groups from around the country filled the audience and you could have heard a pin drop from the concentration and appreciation.