To celebrate Black History Month in Wales 2015, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery’s 4Site Secondary Schools Programme introduced a new workshop, ‘Poetically Speaking – The Power of Literature’. Black History Month celebrates the contributions made by Black people to local, national and world history and culture and aims to educate people in Wales, challenge negative perceptions and promote the history of people of African Diaspora heritage. This year’s theme is ‘Great Black Women’.
Working with writer, playwright and performer, Tracy Harris, Year 9 students from Bishop Gore Comprehensive School, used extracts from literature, poetry, art and multimedia to examine the powerful influence of great female black writers such as Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Angela Davis and Zadie Smith. Taking inspiration from these great writers, the students have written their own pieces of flash fiction, monologues and poetry.
These poems were created by the students collectively and inspired by ‘free writing’ starting with the same first line.
1. Swaying like the branch of a weeping willow
the maiden talked sweetly to the blossoming cherry tree
as the pink flowers withered in to burning fires of hell
the naive maiden, in her youth, unaware of the pain and destruction of age
the howls of hell hounding her
2. Swaying like a branch of a weeping willow
tumbling down like your dad drops you as a baby
crying as the clouds empty their sorrows
screaming into the wind
Howling like a wolf cries to the moon
Staring back in to his big brownish bronze eyes
Gazing at the tall towering trees overhead
Crystals illuminate the black emptiness of the beyond
3. Swaying like a branch of a weeping willow
Soft, gentle whistles in the wind
Swept through the air
Like angels pouring their hearts out to the soil
Melodic to some, but a whistling sound to ignorant mankind
Carrying life on its shoulders
A bird of the forest alone whistling
The flock of birds travelling together
A strange and forlorn sound as they drift
No whistling no more
Silence descends on the once happy forest
The angels and the birds have been left to darkness
The forest silence like the void before time
The nothingness, deafening, reverberating
Around the wilting, weeping, willow
You can almost hear the angels weeping
At the willows eternal sorrow.
4. Swaying like a branch of a weeping willow
with a pencil case lonely on the branch
it sat teetering on a twig staring at the rope
Sitting on the edge of the void, wondering what to do.
The rope was tight, all the lead drained out of him
Poor little pencil abandoned by his family, stuck here for years
All he ever had was pencils and rulers, he was too young to die
The pencils and rulers fell to their infinite deaths
And they will all be remembered in our hearts to the end of time.