The Poetic Debaters Project has been quiet for a while, however, the praxis of PDP has been vibrant.
I have been using Poetic Debaters pedagogy to facilitate workshops since the projects pilot launch in the summer of 2014 and Tale of 2 Cities initiative is a prime project for using strategies of truth-seeking and diplomacy to interrogate the pros and cons of gentrification that is rapidly consuming the city of London at a rate that is surprising and outraging many.
Tale of 2 Cities is an initiative produced by Muenda O Kamara from Big Creative Education looking at the fine line between regeneration and gentrification which seems to have evaporated and there are many stories to tell about the contentious transition – jagged cross-fade from one world of local social cohesion to another – corporate and property development profit.
Tale of 2 Cities (Tof2C) is an extended project which will provide space for 14 young people from ‘Inspire’ referral unit in Hackney to go through a program with a local historian, professional photographer, and myself to produce spoken word poetry with images about Hackney in response to the changes taking place. This project gives them the chance to reflect on a fast changing landscape that, although happening all around over the country, they maybe alienated from.
The Poetic Debaters pedagogy uses deep discussion with mainstream media and alternative media as stimulus, but Tof2C participants will bringing biography as a device to explore wider, social issues as the young people participating are directly affected by the gentrification explosion.
The project also delivers a Bronze Awards certification too. This is a perfect fusion of using alternative education to connect real life experiences with learning styles that encourage interrogative thinking, personal empowerment with the opportunity to prospects in the arts and creative media industries.
On Thursday 10th December there will be an exhibition of images taken in familiar places areas like Haggerston and Dalston by the young poets along with their poems and portraits. Keep up to date with the projects progress and their journey on the Tof2C online blog.
~ Zena Edwards, Creative and Educational Director of ©ViD
PDP Pop UP has been on a bit of a hiatus but sessions will resume again at the end of June with schools in London in the Swiss Cottage area for The Pop Up Festival of Stories on 13th July.
Meantime, at the beginning of May Sam Berkson and I went into two schools, Castle View and Cornelius Vermuyden Schools, in Essex to run PDP session for the Pop Up Festival High House Production Park. It was a beautiful day and the outside stage brought out a little extra energy from our young poets.
The theme the pupils from chose was ” Does your background affect your chances of success for your ambition?”
On a coin flip Cornelius Vermyuden opted to argue against the point – no, your background does not affect your chances of success.
Castle view had this one in the bag – obviously your background will affect your successes in life and with some strong writing to highlight poverty, difficult upbringing and charismatic performances, they argued the point well.
Cornelius Vermuyden had strong writing in favour of the posed question. They took the approach that circumstances can test you character, challenge you to step up your game. They spoke about class and expectations. But ultimately, many believed that although their own backgrounds were humble, and sometimes, demanding and stressful, it did not affect their drive to believe in themselves.
A thought provoking group of 13 and 14 year olds.
Our judges were the duo 4i2i – Tyler Day and Amiee McWeeney
We had the charismatic, dry witted Essex born Richard Purnell hosting, entertaining both children and parents a like. Richard will also be hosting the Swiss Cottage date.
Listen to some of the day’s poetic debating with PDP poets from Castle View and Cornelius Vermuyden.
0.00 – Richard Purnell, the host- Intro, debate rules and meet the judges
2:32 – Sonny – I come From
4:55 – Billy – I will Succeed
7:31 – Judging & jokes
9:04 – Jacob, Katie and Rhiannon
11:40 – Louise and Michaela – believe and love me, I am
13.23 – Nina and Grace – Gravity
14.33 – Michaela Louise, Rebecca and Grace I come from group piece
17:12 – scoring. And the Winners are…?
Read poems by Castle View School pupils. (please zoom in and pause.)
Film- maker, Juliette Dalton from 2DiceProductionz, arrived on day 3 with a enthusiasm reflecting her passion for projects such as PDP. This energy is so invaluable to other independent project makers like myself. What was intended to be 3 minute promo was edited in to a 10 minute docu-film about the PDP pilot because her mission is providing platforms for young people’s voices. The poets did not disappoint her. It was to be a concentrated day of packed with writing, performance techniques and debate strategizing.
Watch the PDP poets, myself and Sam Berkson talk about the resonance of training days. Great result. Thank you 2Dice!
Day three was about editing the poems, honing strategies for team debating and devising performances. The poets worked really hard in such a short space of time to manifest methods for creativity to shine through debating structures. Listen to the poets poems generated in the training session while watching a slide show of them and of the PDP event at Ironbridge.
On the day, everyone delivered strong performances. Well done all!
Watch Russeni and Greer perform at The Forge for the first ever Poetic Debate Event.
The Poetic Debaters Project for Pop Up Festival of Stories went live on the 15th April.
Finally, the first proper training days began at the Free Word Centre in Farringdon, London. Sam and I had had four or five meetings to structure the sessions to include the right types of exercises and structures to make the training solid. Now that we were ready to deliver the pilot, it felt like we had been doing this forever.
Days 1 and 2
Lots of discussion and playing of word games around the theme of freedom of speech with newspaper article, online searches and quotes to begin getting to grips with the deeper sub-themes. Through discussion the group decides that the motion will be “This house believes there should be a limit to Freedom of speech”.
How is this motion problematic? Continue reading
The theme that Poetic Debaters will be challenged for Pop Up is Freedom of Speech.
Here is an interview with English PEN Programmer Mazin Saleem, speaking about the important work PEN International does to raise awareness around writers, poets and journalists imprisoned for their work and the relevance of Freedom of speech as a principle.
The times of the questions have been noted here.
00:08 – What are the fundamental principles of Freedom of Speech
01:57 – Satire – One person’s joke is another person’s insult
03:39 – The opposite of Free Speech?
04:26 – Does class have an effect on your right to freedom of speech?
05:40 – What work does English PEN do?
07:40 – Writers’ responsibilities to other writers – Case study Enoh Meyomesse
09:30 – How do you think being imprisoned might effect a writers writing?
10:41 – What kind of reasons do people get imprisoned for?
11.32 – Freedom of Speech in the UK
12:32 – What are the overt ‘cons’ to Freedom of Speech?
13:36 – What happens when freedom of speech is genderised, racialised or put in generational categories?
14:52 – What is the value of freedom of speech in terms of our development as human beings?
What are your immediate thoughts? What poem could you draft from your immediate thoughts?
“You ask this tongue to understand chains and it replies…”
“Stop your words, there are no ears to catch them here because…”
It has been said of Greer Dewdney that her poems are like monkey bars, with powerful swings of narrative throughout braced at either end by solid, grounding images. A mild-mannered archaeologist by day, Greer brings the ideologies and experiences of a young woman native to London into her work, which has been nurtured and challenged through collaborations with Jacob Sam-La Rose, Pascale Petit, Karen McCarthy Woolf, John Hegley and Ian McMillan amongst others. She is a Barbican Young Poets alumna, and has performed in venues from the Tate Modern to the Birmingham Rep Theatre.
My brother was born on a blue beanbag on the living room floor.
I lay oblivious in my parents’ bed
and in the morning he seemed swaddled in the black and red curtains.
Three weeks later, I threw a two litre bottle of pop across the same living room.
That was my first attempt to get rid of him.
My second attempt involved scrawling his name in chalk
across the upstairs hallway.
Yellow calligraphy as high as my head
spelling out the unnecessary presence.
I was foiled by his not yet being able to hold a pencil.
Having failed with cunning, I returned to brute force, Continue reading