WORDCUP2006 film part one

WORDCUP2010 follows on from the great success of WORDCUP2006. Here’s part one of  a short film about it.


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Workshop Visit: Leeds Young Authors

Last week, I hopped on a train up to Leeds to visit a session with the WORDCUP team from Leeds Young Authors (LYA). Khadijah Ibrahim, who founded LYA in 2003, met me at the Leeds Media Centre. Over the usual pre-workshop bustle of moving chairs and tables, she told me about the group, their annual visits to Brave New Voices in the States and the range of projects she’s currently working on. The amount of opportunities she creates for her students is incredible and I was excited to meet the WORDCUP team.

The team is part of the wider LYA group. In this session, they were working on personification as a way to bring life into their writing and make it stronger:


They read and compared poems by Sylvia Plath, hip-hop artist Common and Langston Hughes. They then put their heads down and applied the techniques these poets use to their own writing. I was impressed by the way they worked together as a team, sharing ideas and feeding back to the group. They clearly take the editing process seriously and are working towards some seriously strong poems…

At the end of the workshop, two of the team performed a poem about the experience of being a twin which had me sitting right up in my seat.


Watch out for Leeds!

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Notes from the North East

WORDCUP2010 kicked off in the North East, where an extended project is taking place, coordinated by Radikal Words. Ten teams of young people in the region are working with poet coaches towards their own regional final, which will take place at the Arc in Stockon-on-Tees on Saturday 3 July.

At the end of March, the North East poets met at the Arc for two days of workshops, led by Radikal Words and Jacob Sam-La Rose, Artistic Director of the London Teenage Poetry SLAM and WORDCUP’s creative consultant. The workshops focussed on sharing and developing tools for working with young people.

I went up for the first day and it was wonderful to be in a room with so many talented poets and performers who all care about bringing poetry into education. As with all good meetings, it involved lots of games, led by different members of the group. Here’s one led by Jeff Price of Radikal Words – a game he often plays with students to get them writing and thinking about themselves…

This Hand…

  • Ask each member of the group to draw around their writing hand. They must then write their name in the middle
  • Outside the hand, ask them to write down three things their hand has done: two true things, and one lie
  • Ask each member to feed back what they have written and ask the group to guess which one is the lie

"This hand has milked a cow, this hand has caught a pigeon, this hand has been broken...."

One of the best things about working on a project like this is seeing how willing poet coaches are to share ideas, techniques and teaching material. Jacob led an exercise on poetic principles – asking the poets what, for them, creates strong writing. Here are some of the things they said:

  • Have a strong message
  • Convey the familiar in an original way
  • Tell personal stories  – make them interesting
  • Write it all down in the first draft – edit later. Kill the inner censor!
  • Draw on the senses
  • Be specific – use concrete images
  • Avoid clichés
  • Don’t rely on rhyme – use a range of poetic devices
  • Connect to your audience
  • Have fun

Young poets, take note!

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Welcome to WORDCUP2010

A slammer from WORDCUP2006

As England’s footballers prepare for South Africa, young people from across the country are scribbling, rapping and writing their way towards the WORDCUP Weekend in July, a national celebration of poetry and spoken word by 13-16 year olds.

Most of these fresh new poets have never slammed before, but over the next few months they’ll be working with some of the country’s top spoken word artists and by the end of the project, I can guarantee they’ll be hooked.

I’ll be travelling around the country visiting workshops and gathering words, images, and responses from the teams, which I’ll be sharing here. Poet coaches will also be writing about their experiences and giving us a sneak preview into just what their teams are capable of. Enjoy…

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