Thursday 28 February 2013

Day 16 - youff and poetry

Oh my days.  That was one challenging evening!  Feel totally drained.

What did I do?

Went to a youth club on the outskirts of Brighton to attempt to share some poetry and see if anyone was interested in learning about/doing performance poetry or spoken word stuff.  This is one of the projects I've been asked to be involved in: putting on spoken word events and workshops with 14-19 years old from disadvantaged backgrounds in Brighton and Hove.  So a group of four of us arranged to visit a popular youth club in Whitehawk to see what was what.

We knew it wasn't going to be easy, and we tried to prepare for different situations, not knowing how many young people there'd be, how old they'd be or what they'd want to do.  But I don't think any of us were quite prepared for how it actually was.  A few girls wondered into the room and asked what we were doing. I said we're poets and would you like to hear a poem?  They said OK, some boys wondered in, and after a line or two the boys said 'this is shit' and walked out.  Nice.  I managed to get through it and asked what they thought.  Half of them said again, 'shit'. One or two said they liked it.  Nothing like a bit of encouragement!  So it was a tough start, and that was the only poem any of us managed to actually get through the whole evening.

We changed tack and tried to do some word and rhyming games, but it was all we could do to try get them say something other than a swear word or 'your mum'!  Tough times and eventually we sorta gave up, and had a break to re-think.  To be honest I would have quite gladly gone home then but one of our group didn't want to give up, and respect to him.  So we just tried chatting to people, asking if they would be interested in doing any more stuff with us in the future.  And somehow a few boys ended up back in the room, watching you tube clips of poets and rappers, and then we ended up doing some rhyming stuff and making up silly poems.  And it was fun and we laughed and the guys came up with good stuff and I'm glad we stayed.

At the end of the day it was a bit of an experiment.  And we always said if it makes a difference to just one person then it's worth it.  So I think, despite nearly crying with exhaustion afterwards, that we'll probably be back. :-)

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