As someone concerned with and forever negotiating her place in the world, I tend to fluctuate – as many of us do between the joy and highs of being alive, cradled by a greater being and having faith all will be ok to wallowing in the unsettling grip of anxiety I attribute to weltschmerz – a feeling of melancholy and world weariness. With the global situation of war, poverty and suffering the way it is, it’s hard not to remember the hidden bursts of energy and promise in our everyday – here right on our doorstep.
Why am I saying this? Yesterday I was invited to be a slam judge at a competition involving different primary schools who had actively worked with members of Shirley May’s amazing Young Identity group ( they meet at Contact theatre and I HIGHLY recommend ) as part of the Wordsmiths initiative founded by the dynamism that is Chris Jam. Together they deliver a brilliant programme encompassing literacy, activism, poetry and performance.
Hosted with the rallying passion of Reece Williams and hearing pupils shouting loud, their lyrical manifestos of the hidden histories of Africa, black identity and empowerment together with their skilful weave of language and imagery-was an utter pleasure to watch. The room was bursting with an energy that spoke to me of ‘potential’. The right investment of unbridled passion, a well rounded education in which they see themselves represented and the space to think critically using the arts is what children of today need to nurture their potential. This event highlighted that so clearly.
The hall projected confidence, intelligence and power and that alone left me with a spring in my step. We never had these types of programmes at primary school when I was growing up and they are vital to nurturing those very skills in children that have a far reaching influence in their personal growth than just mainstream education alone. I’ve worked in schools to have seen first hand what this type of programme does for the confidence of children. I want all these wordsmiths to never lose that ‘want to be made of Obsidian’ we encountered yesterday! We couldn’t stop clicking! I also got to listen to one of my fave young poets in Manchester right now, Isaiah Hull finish off the event with his poetry and the pen in his hand.
All the schools were excellent in different ways. To me in a world hell bent on silencing certain voices, every child that makes their voice heard is a winner! I thank them for reminding me of hope and then some! X