PDP At the Bar – Coming Soon

The Poetic Debaters project has been quiet for a while. It will be back with an over 18’s agenda as we take the poetic debate to the bar where, over your favourite beverage,  we will be debating via poetry some of the hottest topics in the mainstream to date.  We hav a a fantastic line up of poets and spoken word artist so watch this space!
PDP at the bar – Coming Soon!


Tale of 2 Cities – Gentrification or Regeneration?

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.

GGowdEUbdCkFEs7eBnwoTJld1QFsMX-uHUjM6T6rR-inCTL5Q_GUMo6np3BCrYYhEhVcC-bwKOdxvJlLoNsafaPRHX2kIAesCLU_Wcp0YPQbnPp9kjK2mKx0lTm2wCPM5xi6jHRcmwWgUPewh5OmdoS_kkBFTvOshlocq_rKTr5Ox2skcmh1zuJvVRfHv8woNTU4a_WYJCL1mRvBEOq5hK047zHTale 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.

qul3yeodxsn1_uzqqh_xhyv4xgffmvazf1frp4m-eyyyp9ez5drjymn3ekouz_fcdzcc6udvcmu0tgsoysbxsudfpc7vqhr1wjyjum2ygcfyr114hfyxzei0ipjszvo_8h_h0wx5m55z8iwlmqjljximhldfdsgqmtsdltl2rwsw2djhrgeelfuet_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.

~ Zena Edwards, Creative and Educational Director of ©ViD

Poetic Debaters in Essex

PDP essex group pic

Pupils from Castle View and Cornelius Vermuyden Schools

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.)

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PDP Pilot Documentary – Film by 2Dice Productionz

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!

~ Zena

Day 3 of PDP Poets training and their performances for Pop Up Ironbridge

Day 3
In the morning, the t-shirts arrive – Yes!PDP t-shirts phone pic


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.

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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 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? Continue reading

Freedom Of Speech – Podcast with Mazin Saleem

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?

Poetry Prompt
“You ask this tongue to understand chains and it replies…”
“Stop your words, there are no ears  to catch them here because…”

~ Zena