Whisper of talent that built up to a crescendo

13th July 2001 at 01:00
LINDA Lucas, a basic skills student, has put into print her feelings about the Oldham riots.

Linda, aged 38, left school at 16 with no qualifications. While a cleaner at Oldham College she decided to go on the evening English basic skills course. She wrote the poem, Whispers, (right) as part of her course.

"I wanted to show people from both sides how it felt, and how it affected everyone. I was born in Oldham and have lived here all my life and my family originally came from Barbados. We have always all got on.

"The poem starts off as a whisper and builds up to describe how it felt on the day of the riots."

Vicky Duckworth, who teaches the course, describes Linda as an inspiration. "She has been on the course for two years. When she came she had no confidence, felt worthless and that she had no talents. Slowly her confidence and skills have developed.

"Now she is using her gift of poetry to write about what is happening in the community. She wants other people to follow her example and be proud of who they are.

"I have developed a programme that meets her needs and one in which her talents can be nurtured. Through poetry her passion for language has grown.

"She will receive an accreditation in basic skills this summer. She is a wonderful example of how student-centred delivery can help a student to flourish."

Linda said: "I want to show people that it does not matter whatever age you are, you can still go to college."

While doing the course she was holding down three jobs. Her ambition is to carry on with her poetry and also to write some short stories.

WHISPERS

"CHINESE whispers, whispered throughout this town,

Reporters, crew members rushed to fill their empty reels of film.

Descending from near and far,

With notepads in hand and cameras around their necks,

They waited!

Capturing evil as it passed through our lives - not theirs

The sun shone,

As a calm but eerily cold feeling ran in and out of the rows of terraced

houses,

My head at the window,

The battle about to begin,

I watched as the men from the streets,

Like gladiators,

Chose a weapon,

A stick, a brick, something to hurt - destroy

All sides took part - skin colour the divide,

As the men's faces flared in anger,

Journalists and camera crews ran for the easy pickings of negative images,

The evil masquerading as something new,

But it's the same as what's crossed doorsteps across the land before.

Whispers of hate threw out in despair,

Torn lives for the world to see."

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