Nii Ayikwei Parkes

Four Days in Hackney

December 12th, 2011  |  Published in Schools

I’ve just spent four days in Hackney – split between November and December – working on the Linklaters-sponsored Poetry Challenge alongside my Frances Lincoln stablemate Rachel Rooney. We worked with six primary schools – Rushmore, Southwold, Daubeney, Baden Powell, Gainsborough and Kingsmead – and did a Q&A for two groups at Clapton Girls’ Academy. It was great fun writing with the primary school kids. We wrote nonsense poems about jellyfish jamming with jibjabs on Junior Jupiter and did simple reconfiguration exercises around the structure you call it… / i call it. The kids came up with some great stuff! How is you call is pizza; i call it an edible UFO for you? I wish I’d come up with that!

The project feeds into a borough-wide competition and publication in an online Linklaters/inspire book. Look out for that. But the funniest moment of the project came when the girls from Clapton, on hearing I used to dance, said ‘we know you’re a writer and all that, but we want you to strut your stuff’; I laughed, but I didn’t dance – I haven’t got the flexibility and skills anymore!!

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