The Poetic Debaters Training Days @ Free Word!

The Poetic Debaters Project for Pop Up Festival of Stories went live on the 15th April.

PDP pop Up Massive shrops marlem shake 2

(Top row formt he left) Angelina, Greer, Sam, Gabriel, Russeni, (kneeling) Zena, Orla, Ruth, Lana (Naga had to leave early)

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? How can it serve to protect? What are the added complexities when it come to the internet? This article was used as a prompt – should Prime Minister David Cameron have had the power to shut down twitter and other platforms of social media during the the UK Summer insurrections? 

The principle of Freedom of Speech a la PDP Poets

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Poets can be funny creatures.  Deducing hidden and metaphorical meaning comes so naturally that we could consistently be labelled conspiracy theorists but this is the point of looking beyond the superficial – reading what the ingredients are before consuming.

One of my favourite roles during discussions is playing devil’s advocate, challenging at every turn an argument our young poets put forward. This encourages them and me to not make random assumptions or offering over-inflated declarations disguised as fact, which are really only based in the bravado of opinion. This is where the politics of debate comes under scrutiny. Hard facts and evidencing are crucial but the issue of morality can throw a spanner in the works of a soundly evidence argument.


click to enlarge

Cross-examination and dynamic interrogation will ensure  the web and weft of the point is tight. No loop holes. Nothing slips though the net, passing the eye of scrutiny. The bonus – poets realize they are more politically engaged and aware than they first thought. They just need a platform to exercise their vocabulary and lexicon. Click to see more images of the two days.

So much came from these discussions, a wealth of material for poems and one of my favourite parts of doing education facilitation is the silence and the scratching of pens on paper. You can almost here minds thinking, brains joining dots and the flow of creative juice in torrents as poems begin to manifest themselves.

Here is a rough group piece written as an exercise from the David Cameron to ban twitter during ‘riots’ article.

More to come. Watch this space for the PDP docu-film of the training days!

~ Zena


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