Be ready to seize poetic inspirationlTeacher to Teacher

17th March 2006 at 00:00
I was given the responsibility of raising the profile of poetry in the school, and found that ideas and enthusiasms spring up haphazardly and you have to be ready to pick up on them.

Among activities we've tried are competitions, both internal and external. We've also had writers' clubs, which usually run after school.

They tend to grow around individual groups of students in different years.

We also encourage groups to publish their work in poetry magazines, which are sold at prospective parents' evenings.

Links have been fostered with several institutions including the Book Trust, the Poetry Library at the Royal Festival Hall South Bank Centre and the Poetry Society. Last year we were nominated as a poetry Landmark site, and our sixth-formers, who were studying Keats, worked on a project with Keats' House.

We often take groups to Ty Nwydd, the Welsh Arvon Centre, for week-long creative writing sessions. Writers come to the school, working with the writer's workshops and visiting lessons. The Book Trust's Writers in Schools scheme has proved invaluable in this. In the past five years, we've had visits from David Almond, Jackie Kay, John Aagard and Andrew Motion.

One group worked at the South Bank Centre with Lavinia Greenlaw and another went off to work with Sinead Morrissey. We also took groups to the Troubadour Cafe in London to listen to live poets. The impact of contact with writers and the help these organisations have offered us is vast. They all employ people dedicated to making our work with them and our job of encouraging creativity easier.

Poetry Society: www.poetrysociety.org.uk Writing Together: www.booktrust.org.ukwritingtogether The Poetry Library: www.poetrylibrary.org.uk

The Arvon Centre (including Ty Newedd Writers'Centre): www.arvonfoundation.org

The Troubadour Cafe, Earls Court London: www.troubadour.co.uk

Helen Gray

Graveney School, London borough of Wandsworth

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