We Will, We Will Rock You

Report by Mrs Morris

Thrilling! Exciting! Engaging! Just three of the one-word comments from our students used to describe a visit by Memorhyme.com and Kurlyspoetry.com. Once again, the Smith’s Wood Academy has been visited by shortlisted Birmingham Poet Laureates Kurly McGeachie and Richard, the poets who work at the frontline of education provision. This time around, these poets and Hip Hop artists delivered two sessions focussing on the AQA Power and Conflict Anthology, to help our students with their knowledge and understanding of GCSE poems.

Witnessing our students spring to life on the first day after a Bank Holiday Monday, seeing them engage with poetry with such energy and confidence, is an experience not to be missed. And how can anyone fail to engage when it all starts with the class register being done in freestyle verse?
“Words spell out the ideas of what we can imagine,
Thoughts described by awesome adjectives used by Adam,
Expressing poems that help set feelings free,
Striving to release them with full Liberty.
Words can start stories that leave an imprint when they’re over, on a script or stage we might hear poetry from Shona…”

We were then given a riveting reciting and singing of John Agard’s “Checking Out Me History”. This really connected with our students, some of whom come from a dual heritage background. A quick survey revealed many examples of ancestry in Ireland or the Caribbean, with most of those students knowing very little about these countries; exactly the milieu explored in Mr Agard’s work.

After having such a fun DNA activity, the by now highly enthused students were challenged to take on the role of poets themselves. They were asked to write their own interpretation of ideas and emotions based on any one of the poems they had studied in lessons, without revealing the title. It is no surprise, but still immensely pleasing, that they more than rose to the occasion and impressed everyone. Here are some examples of work from year 9 and y 10 students which they produced in less than 20 minutes, and the reader can judge their level of engagement, commitment, and literary craft.


Inspired by London
London’s on the news every time I hear
Another grieving mother, another drop of tear.
Each young soul carries in a matt black hearse.
When will we ever break this untimely curse?
A teenage boy killed on the street,
Sent to heaven, God he will then meet
Another life stripped by senseless man –
When did life become a ban?
Many wish that life would swiftly flow
While others live their life in woe.
Another mother left to suffer and cry.
Why, why, why I ask, and I sigh.
Knotting Hills of London become tightly undone
Life by the knife nightly in modern day London.

By Onyiyechi Odogwu year 10

Inspired by The Emigree
Sounds, smells, panic of war time bomb
Emigrating, debating trying to remember where I’m from
Finally I’m flyin’, finally I’m free
I never wanted to be a tearful refugee.
Two years after I was arrested and banned
You took my shaking hand
I reached for my expired passport
Then got caught.
Daily I danced with the devil of death,
Boys on the banks with the last babble breath.
As my tears trickled down my eyes
I will no longer tell myself hopeless lies.

By a Year 9 student.

The link to the video reflection of the day here.