Two Theatres Two Schools One Day One Love

Some artists - poets -  despise reading their works to audiences or in schools. I don't and here's why. Every now and again -  each time, hopefully  -   it becomes crystal  clear  why one does what one does in terms of work in schools.

Today I performed at two theatres in two schools. One high   school had approximately 2,500 pupils,  a   big school in any country. I did a forty minute reading to about four hundred   pupils in the schools  theatre that would be the pride of any city. The technical sound is  pitch perfect At Lord Beaverbrook High.  This means that each nuance, each note inside   a note, that urges from my mouth is picked up and projected with care to each   member of the audience.  It was time to begin my reading. It is important to set the tone. I set mine by saying  “. It is really an honour to   be here. It’s my first time  in America”. 

By the end of the reading they, through the poems,  have laughed cried and danced inside their hearts and minds and so have I. A magic happens; an indefinable  otherness which leaves us tired and happy, realising that there is something  about art and artists which puts us in touch with ourselves and with the world  around us in a way that can not be achieved by any other means. Even   religion depends on art to convey its centre – books stories (the bible the  Koran)  and pictures, (statues stained  glass windows).

I am not blowing my own trumpet here.  Because believe you me  there is a lot of work invested in  making something seem  effortless but I am sharing  with you the effect that an artist can have in a school environment.  How an artist in a school can send ripples that will splash inside the  eyes of the children and spill over into their homes and their livesand they are the artists of tomorrow.    Here is an email I received  from a teacher the day after  this event at Lord Beaverbrook High

I am an English teacher at LordBeaverbrookHigh School - where you came and performed yesterday morning as a part of Wordfest - and I wanted to send along my gratitude for your work.  Not only are you an incredibly talented poet and performer, but you lit a fire beneath my students. It is one thing for me  to expose them to stuff, to claim that words live lives outside of shoeboxes  shoved under beds, and quite another for them to feel it.

Today in class, they came up with all sorts of  ideas for performing poems as part of a ‘Random Acts of Poetry’ week including:  bombarding other classes with paper airplanes that have poetry written on them,  duct-taping themselves to walls and reciting poetry about entrapment, creating  random paper barriers that other students will have to break through in order  to get to wherever they’re going, interrupting math and science lessons with  30-second beat-box poems, making banners of manifesto poetry to hang in prominent places around the school.

On the way out the door, one of my students said to another – ‘man, I *love*this class’.”

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