Wood Green Poets
To celebrate the National Year of Reading and to coincide with National Poetry day in October 2008, we decided to run a year 8 project about poetry. We invited the pupils to enter a poem into a unique competition. The prizes would be to include the winning poems in a 'proper' book.
We were surprised by the overwhelming response as pupils really wanted to be 'real' authors. The library saw an increase in the amount of poetry books that were borrowed and around 200 entries were received from the year group.
The theme of the books was to be 'family' and the final title is 'Family Matters'. The poetry written by the pupils has been a joy to read. Happy poems, sad poems, funny poems, poems about brothers, sisters, aunties and even pets. In addition to the 44 poets that were chosen to be in the final publication we also had a team of 4 illustrators who produced line drawings to accompany the poetry. 22 boys and 26 girls were in the final publication, all were there on merit alone. Poetry is one area of literacy that gives a level playing field as some of the chosen poetry was from pupils in low ability English groups but their use of imagery impressed us. One pupil wrote about his sister ' her mouth is round as a penny, her hair is like glowing, golden straw'.
In order to make this happen we researched how to get a book published and finally decided to self publish. By contacting Neilsons we were able to register as a publishers and buy ISBN numbers. We contacted a printer who was willing to print a short run of 150 volumes and we sent copies of the finished book to the British Library, local libaries and the school library so that pupils could see their work in a public place. The book is also available on Amazon so pupils can see it on the web too. The school business manager gave us a small loan to start the project off and most of the books have been purchased by parents and family members of the Wood Green Poets so the project has now broke even. However the aim was not to make money but to raise awareness of reading and poetry in particular, to generate excitement about books, to invite ownership, to raise aspirations, self esteem and to install a 'can do' attitude among our young people.
The book was launched on National Poetry day in October 2008 and we received local press coverage. The book has been asked for in the school library by other year groups and is constantly out on loan. The main comment is 'why can't our year group do this' so it looks like next years projects will involve more of our pupils becoming published authors!
Lin Guest Wood Green High School. Wednesbury