Projects

Blackwood ‘Hangs out’ with Houston

Potter, Clare 2

Following Literature Wales’ inaugural Slam Cymru project in 2015, the Slam team from Blackwood Comprehensive School took part in an inaugural digital workshop with K.I.P.P. Liberation Middle School, Houston, USA via ‘Google Hangout’ on 3 December 2015.

Despite the occasional technical hiccups, accompanied by the sound of laughter following exclamations of “Houston, we have a problem”, young people from both sides of the Atlantic shared their poems and discussed the power of poetry relevant to their lives.

In preparation for the joint digital workshop, pupils in Blackwood worked with poet clare.e.potter to create new works, while the teenagers in Houston worked with spoken word poet Emanuelee ‘Outspoken’ Bean. Around 25 teenagers (aged 12-14) from the school in Houston and around 15 teenagers from Blackwood (aged 15-16) then shared individual and group poems with each other throughout the hour-long shared workshop. The teenager’s poems explored themes of family, relationships, bullying, and life as a young person.

‘Pick up a mic, make a beat and a verse / Let the flow go down the microphone
Use your words wisely / talking out loud could save you and me’
– Blackwood Comprehensive School

Blackwood

The group in Houston was supported by WITS (Writers in the Schools). The organisation’s aim is to inspire educators to realize the value of improving literacy through creativity. WITS’s programme inspires teachers to use their expertise to nurture and increase a child’s potential and, most of all, inspires students – to create something unique, to find their voices, to be heard.

Similarly, Literature Wales Young People’s Laureate and Bardd Plant Cymru initiatives offer youth communities across Wales an important platform from which to develop their own creative voices and discuss the issues relevant to them. Through the inaugural Slam Cymru project, led by Young People’s Laureate Martin Daws and former Bardd Plant Cymru, Aneirin Karadog, young people, aged 14-19, from schools, Young Carers groups and Princes Trust XL clubs formed twelve brand new slam groups.

The slam group from Blackwood Comprehensive School came second in the 2015 Slam Cymru competition and through Literature Wales’ links to the slam scene in the USA, the idea was born to link up the Blackwood Group with an American youth group who share a love of poetry and the spoken word.

The first inaugural digital Google Hangout workshop was conceived as a pilot to test the feasibility of this format and Literature Wales hopes to develop it in future to form lasting international links for young people and connect communities from different parts of the world.

Poet clare.e.potter said:

In Houston, Emanuelee Outspoken Bean said that talking to the Blackwood Poetry Slam Team via Google Hangout, was really useful for his young poets. Tim Geiriau Cryf (The Strong Words) made a positive impact in Texas and have begun to make their mark here. A few months ago, some of them had never written a poem before (save for a couple who used poetry to shape and keep safe difficulties they have transcended). They are winners on many levels: they have felt the power of their own voices and know what it means to be responsible for telling Truth using spoken word, and in so doing, to reach out to others.

I feel humbled to have shared the first steps on their journey into the world of slam poetry. What an incredibly talented group of young poet performers. You don’t need to watch this space; they are already filling it, and you’ll hear them. Loud. And. Clear.