What are you to Dracula? You are just a snack you are!


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‘I learnt that poetry is not just Shakespeare but also the future’

– comment from participant

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‘I learnt that no matter who you are you have a voice through poetry’

– comment from participant

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Photos Hema Karecha & Andy Rumball

Comments by participants

BUT..... (EAST team)

‘I experienced friendship, confidence, trust, culture, I was completely and utterly inspired’


‘I have learnt that people – any age – can give insight and inspire old minds and poetry is powerful’


I have learnt to tackle my nerves and that it is not that bad once you are on stage’


[The best thing was] the amount of energy in the wordcup final. Everyone was clapping and supporting the other teams’


‘I have learnt that you can express your feelings in poems’


Performing the poems which WE wrote and worked on for a long time to a large audience which we normally couldn’t do’


‘Exciting, thrilling, all-time-high’


[The best thing was] The emotion rollercoaster we experienced from nerves taking over to a complete adrenaline rush after. [I learnt] to be proud of my work and show people through performance’


‘Scary, fun, memorable’

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The Managers’ Match

Text by Helen Gregory

Photos by Hema Karecha & Andy Rumball

It is Friday night. I am sitting three rows from the stage in Manchester’s Contact Theatre, watching an astonishing showcase of poetic talent. This is the Managers Match, the opening event of Apples and Snakes’ WORDCUP2010 residential weekend. Performing on stage are the peer mentors, poet coaches and local writers who have been working with young poets across the country to craft three minute long pieces of performance poetry for the slam competition which will take place here tomorrow night.

Baba Israel presents

Khadijah Ibrahiim (Yorkshire)

Molly Naylor (East)

Ross Sutherland (East)

Kenny Baraka (London)

For now though, it is the mentors’ chance to strut their stuff. The audience may be full of teenagers, but the artists on stage pull no punches with their poetry. While some explore typically teenage topics like bullying and inspirational teachers, others muse on evolution, homelessness, racism, self-harm, love, hip hop, unemployment -even mice. We are privy to hard-hitting, heart-wrenching observations, comically bad dancing, skilful beat boxing, lyrical chanting and metaphors by the dozen. I have heard some of these poems performed to adult audiences before, but I don’t believe that their reappearance here is through accident or laziness. The poets have thought about their audience and have come to the conclusion that the adolescents who comprise its main core are intelligent, mature and responsible enough to hear these poems. Indeed, some of the hardest hitting poetry comes from the young alumni of programmes like Leeds Young Authors, Barbican Young Poets and the SLAMbassadors.

Chris Preddie (SLAMbassadors UK)

One of the Slambassadors, Chris Preddie, takes the stage next. He is a born showman, every cheeky smile, every twist of the shoulders, every blink seems like part of a scripted performance – and may well be. This poet is still a teenager himself, but he has already had more rich (and traumatic) life experiences than many middle aged people, and he oozes talent. His confident between-poem banter reveals that he could easily make it as a stand-up comic. I find myself deeply grateful that he has chosen poetry instead when he launches into a piece about how he used to be a ‘bad man’, peddling crime and drugs on the streets of London. Chris tells us that he has left that life behind him and credits SLAMbassadors UK founder Joelle Taylor for this near miss. “If it wasn’t for this woman I’d probably be dead or in jail” he declares, and the hardness beneath the sparkle in his eyes means that I for one have no doubt of his sincerity.

Haroun Anwar (SLAMbassadors UK)

Sarah Olowofoyeku (SLAMbassadors UK)

There is a broad mix of young slammers in the audience, hailing from suburban seclusion as well as inner city estates, and I worry a little that those from the former group will switch off at this point, being unable to relate to these ghetto-centric stories. Talking to them later though I hear only awe and empathy. They are amazed at the transformation Chris describes and the skill he demonstrates. These teenagers have their own problems and, rather than being made to feel insignificant by the tales of racism, family strife and drug abuse which grace the stage tonight, they seem to see hope in these stories, as though they offer a way of dealing with their own, very different difficulties. Besides which, there is something for everyone in the theatre tonight: West Midlands poet coach, Spoz, bounces one-legged around the stage in his re-enactment of embarrassing parental dancing; South East coach, Rik Sykes, raps at breakneck speed about the (fallacious) notion that we are living in a ‘broken Britain’; South West coach, Sara-Jane Arbury, unfolds a metaphor in which she is cast as a fish, gutted from teeth to tail by the ending of a relationship. These are just some of the poetry on show from the twenty plus artists taking the stage tonight.

Rosy Carrick (South East)

Rik Sykes

Sara-Jane Arbury (South West)

Spoz (West Midlands)

Dreadlockalien (West Midlands)

Roger Robinson (East Midlands)

Nikki Hawkins (North East)

Leeds Young Authors: Jodie Kearing, Azalia Anisko, Rheima Ibrahiim Robinson

Azalia Anisko (Leeds Young Authors)

Jodie Kearing (Leeds Young Authors)

Tyrone Lewis (Barbican Young Poets)

Aisling Fahey (London Teenage Poetry SLAM/Barbican Young Poets)

Shoshana Anderson (Barbican Young Poets)

Shirley May (North West)

Frikso (North West)

Tachia Newall - participant of WORDCUP2006 and star of Waterloo Road

I am very grateful to be in the audience and not a little apprehensive for the young slammers whose turn it will be to perform tomorrow night. Certainly, a number of the poet coaches have to spend a good chunk of the following morning reassuring their team that they will not be competing against these poet coaches and peer mentors. More to the point, however, many of the young poets who go on to perform in the Saturday evening slam could have held their own amongst these more established poets. By the time I get on the train back to Bristol on the Sunday afternoon I can honestly say that I have not heard a poor poem all weekend.

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Day 1: Baba Israel presents the Managers' Match

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By Isobel A., a young poet from the South East


Sometimes I wake up

At four in the morning,

I pick up my pen

Before blinking and yawning


I reach for the book

That’s beside my bed

Reserved for ideas

That awake in my head.


The hand-held grenade

On the cover of black

Is shaped like a heart,

Bleeding and cracked.


The pages are lined,

Some are tattered and torn,

The corners are folded

And the cover is worn


You’d be amazed

At the ideas I find

Some awake, some asleep

Alive in my mind.


The plot lines that spin

The dialogues around

And the characters that anchor

Them all to the ground.


The book is a prison

Where the ideas are seeded

Among bars made of lines

Until they are needed.


Isobel is a talented young poet from the South East who took part in the WORDCUP2010 workshops with Rosy Carrick and Rik Sykes. She wasn’t able to make it to the WORDCUP Weekend, but if she carries on writing like this, her poetry will definitely take her places…

If you are a participant of WORDCUP2010 and would like to submit your poem to the blog, please ask your poet coach or teacher/youth worker to send it to Miriam.

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Lights beam down, stage lit

eyes wide like a hungry cat

The first words roll from my lips

as the butterflies flutter away



By a young poet about their WORDCUP Weekend experience

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The 'Most Striking Line' Award goes to the North West team

The 'Most Striking Performance Technique' Award goes to the South West team

... Yorkshire is the Highest Scoring Team

Photos: Helen Gregory

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‘Island’ by Blakeston School

Sadly, the WORDCUP2010 team from Blakeston School in Stockton-on-Tees wasn’t able to make the North East Final. At the event, Viv Wiggins, their poet coach, read out one of their poems.

Viv reading 'Island' by the Blakeston Team


This is Seanie Island, my dream location

Where I can:

Be a lifeguard and rescue the Liverpool Football squad

Do Thai boxing all day and master the art

Live next door to Steven Gerrard

Play Bon Jovi records and The Prodigy

Make all of my own clothes just for me.

(Chorus) Yeah but you are not free to FEEL!


This is Nathan island, my dream location

Where I can:

Bounce all day on my trampoline whale land

Swim with the sharks and sunbathe together like a normal happy family

Build a huge house for homeless people to sleep

Sail around the world and see different people and countries

Where there are no rules except ‘TERRORISTS KEEP OUT!’

(Chorus) Yeah, but you are not free to LOVE!


This is Daniel island, my dream location

Where I can:

Drive amazing cars as fast as I can at the age of 3

Buy anything I want at any time and it’s all free

Constantly watch new ‘Top Gear’ episodes

Where one week it is hot and the next week it snows

Where wild, exotic animals roam free but they are also friendly

(Chorus) Yeah, but you are not free to EXPRESS YOURSELF!


This is Matthew Island, my dream location

Where I can:

Spend all night with the army cadets

Drive my tank all over the land

Hunt animals and find plants to survive

Play snowball fights in a special dome

Where school has not been introduced

(Chorus) Yeah but you are not free to WRITE!


This is Jordan Island, my dream location

Where I can:

Swim all day and win all the medals

Permanently be on holiday

Listen to the words of Eminem

Have a new pair of trainers every month

Watch ‘Mock the Week’ every night

(Chorus) Yeah but you are not free to THINK!


This is Callum’s island, my dream location

Where I can:

Eat all the chocolate and it never runs out

Buy all the games in the world

…and will win the Euromillions lottery

Start a rock and roll band and be bigger than ‘Oasis’

Fly to Jupiter as many times as I like

(Chorus) Yeah, but you are not free to PROTECT!


This is Taryn Island, my dream location

Where I can:

Eat chocolate ripples before they melt

Chat all day and night to my friends and never stop

Play netball and have the winning team

Spend time on the beach with my whole family

Eat Sunday Roast every day washed down with ‘Capri Sun’.

(Chorus) Yeah but you are not free to SPEAK OUTRIGHT!

(Chorus) Let’s all think for a minute, and work together…


This is OUR Island, our dream location

We share all our skills and our motivation


We are free to THINK, to PROTECT and to SPEAK OUTRIGHT

This is OUR Island

Love ‘Blakey’ xxxxx

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