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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The Supporters of The Poetic Debaters Project


The Poetic Debaters Project is being supported by the Pop Up Storytelling Festival, Poetry Society, and English Pen.  Each organisation have been instrumental by investing belief, funds and some advice on the development of PDP and recruitment of young poets.

imagesThis is a shout out to Philip Cowell, Lucy Wood (Poetry Society),  Louise Sawn from English PEN. Special thanks to Dylan Caulder (Pop Up’s visionary and Creator), the incredible inspirational Joelle Taylor (UK National Slambassadors Creator at The Poetry Society) and  Mazin Saleem (PEN). Thank You for all your input.PDP logo green for change


PDP and the Arts Award


PDP has been invited to run the Bronze Arts Awards with pupils  at  Castle View school in Essex. Great News!

I am Gold Arts award trained and have found Arts Award training very useful in focusing project ideas  and by often attending conferences, I can to stay up to date with the progress of the arts award development.  It is now receiving attention in Europe and America, which broadens the scope of PDP’s possibilities.

The Arts Award is very much about the in-depth understanding of craft, the arts sector and the business of arts management. PDP is a very flexible project with a menu of workshop exercises from beginner to masterclass levels. It is able to do this because its frame work focuses on pedagogy enabling everyone involved to enter a theme, social issue and creativity from where they are at in that moment in time, regardless of age or political involvement and awareness.

The Poetic Debaters Project is perfect for Arts Award training as it offer the fusion between  literature, performance and education through creativity. The research element of the PDP program explores important events in world history and the heroes and heroines who have influenced it to date.

The creativity in PDP is about re-imagining how art can bring about positive change in the lives of those who participate and the audiences who hear their work and how to create platforms for more events like PDP with PDP ethos at its core – truth-seeking through culture and creativity.

There is also a skills and knowledge sharing between pupils/participants as they acknowledge each others strengthsArts-Award-Club and weakness as researcher/writer/performer/debater and encourages them to work together as team to build a strong representation of perspectives and points of view.

PDP is much about gathering, documenting and transforming information into creativity encouraging critical thinking, re-imagining and innovation. The Poet coaches are project developers and bloggers in their own right and understand the need for documenting processes of creativity and the value of reflection in the midst of strategic career and vocational progression. Even in the arts you want a promotion!

I was invited to be a guest writer about my experiences as an artist and how the Arts Award fits well with my practice as an arts educator.
Click for my article and the Arts Awards website.

I look forward to it.
– Zena