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Poet Laureate Simon Armitage Visit

Simon Armitage, The Poet Laureate, visited Maida Vale School to perform his poems and to run workshops for our students.

It was an absolute treat to hear Simon Armitage read his poetry in the MVS theatre and field some thoughtful questions from the crowd, he deserves our thanks! Performance, as Simon remarked during the Q & A, is an essential part of the poetic art – when you hear poetry read by its maker, you get something more than you do from the page. You get rhythm, cadence, tone and texture. You hear the sounds of his words as Simon intends them to be heard. I’ll provide just one example, in his poem ‘Snow Day’, Simon wants a day off school… a snow day, a respite from complications, to set his thoughts in order. At one point he asks, if not for a snow day, for a “rainwater and dried bread day”, he almost sighs these lines. You can hear how he hankers after the simplicity which these images evoke, not just materially, but conceptually, he longs for things to be as clear-cut as the distinction between wet rainwater and dry bread. When written, your eyes might scan past these lines, but when Simon speaks them and pauses, you hear something more, you sense his exhaustion. Equally prominent was Simon’s humour,  in his sharp observation or his occasional absurdity: he mentions corporate “blamestorming sessions” or conjures a “rocking horse” that “skitters across battlefields”. Simon’s chief virtue lies in the richness of his simplicity. His register is unpretentious, yet his combinations of those simple words, the ideas and images he builds are what is interesting: “this misfortune you find is of your own manufacture” and “the bones of my bones”, one would never think that bones could have bones  of their own!

I really enjoyed hearing Simon Armitage read his poems out loud and being able to ask him question about the effect Lock Down had had on his writing

Guy, Year 10

 

Poetry Workshop

It was a real privilege to have Poet Laureate Simon Armitage run a workshop for some of our pupils when he visited the school in February. He gave pupils a series of prompts to elicit a range of imaginative and unusual ideas, beginning with freewriting, where pupils were encouraged to write anything no matter how illogical. From that, they had to pick out the most interesting word choices, and the dullest ones too, before describing an imaginary picture with these words, moving around the image and approaching it from different viewpoints, time frames and angles. Here are two of the final pieces:

A Time for Silence, by Dylan N (Y9):

A time of mourning which consumed
And distorted all clarity of conscience.
Bleached with a film of lament corrupting
the purity of my recollection.
The forests now teeming with life, a continuous
Reminder of the untimely quietude.
A multitude of emotions, colliding in such disarray,
Amplifying, and exacerbating the sheer magnitude of my sorrow.
The beauty of the silence, warping the breeze and the vigour of the
Wind caressing my face, the one awaiting a genuine grin.
The woodlands now rest, untouched, still brimming with animacy,
Yet missing the…

The Sunset Moon and the Northern Lights, by Zara (Y7):

The sunset gold majestically fills the moon, echoing across the sky. White is spread past the horizon. Green waves lurk across the atmosphere creating a ripple along the sky. The clock begins to tick faster and faster until the handle reaches midnight. The winter season is here. The peaceful serenity of the night creates a long silence, a pause just for a moment. While we stand and marvel at the beautiful sight of the Northern Lights. Like the souls of our loved ones had become even with heaven producing magnificence. In the corner of my eye I see a bouncing dog, she desperately digs a hole searching for her missing piece. The tranquillity of the sky gazes away, with shades of emerald to sage colours filling the dark, black sky. I raise my hand, trembling, and grasp the moon gently with the northern lights spilling out beside me. I look back the memories flooding back of that night, with the sunset moon in my fingertips and hope that the magical nights will return. If not in my dreams.

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