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Poetically Speaking – The Power of Literature

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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.

  Throughout October the pupils poetry has been showcased here, but don’t worry if you missed anything as the complete collection of poetry can be seen below.

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
A gunshot
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.


These works are inspired by the poetry of Maya Angelou and Sonia Sanchez.

1. Belief
Belief is the river
From which my troubles pour away

Belief is a place
Where everything is perfect

Belief is the cycle
That motivates me, picks me up when I fall

Belief is immersion
In the wonderful creation

Belief is looking up and seeing a tree
Belief is Purity

2.
The rain pitter patters
From the valleys of the heavens
Upon a simple leaf
The liquid of the sky shatters

The running of tears
From an angel up above
The chair carried by the wind
Cries hallelujah

3.

I am lucky
I have a chance
Unlike most others

Whilst others are out
Fighting for their lives
I’m safe being happy

This school is a new beginning
It means I can get a better life

It has already blessed me with a friend
And in the future I will be a doctor
a maker of my own future

I am writing stories
While others sort through rubbish
I calculate sums
While others carry water

You say you’ll do anything
To get out of school
But I’ll do anything
To stay in here.

4.
The souls
eternal darkness
weep in the void

silence oppressing
their once loud sing-a-long
voices crushed

the blackness
enabling alienations
and froth breaking

watering the plights of the mother
never escaping the grasp of the father

the highway to hell
is easier to tread across
than the stairway to heaven

you can always fall down stairs
plunge in to silence
silence resounding silence

5.
heh babba I salute you,
lyrics coming out you with supersonic speed
uh-huh swooma luna you
got to do to get it through to you
I’m a superhuman human
With superhuman neurons

6.
sandstorm, earthquake
the perfect storm
dark and dull

the glistening glows
of the low toned
sunset

deep footprints
never ending in the sand under the harmful rays
beaming down on innocent people

purple rays with the effect of pain
purple rain clenched to the ankles

struggling to walk
the sand caves beneath the feet

the more they struggle
the deeper and more dangerous it becomes

twirling down through a time filled, sand filled tunnel

7.
Searching around every taco truck for the perfect taco
asking wise men for a delicious bite from heaven to mexico
as I waited for the angel in my mouth
a gun shot through my tongue, risking my life
stealing clues from Mexican gangs, thanking god
x marks the spot of a taco treasure map
I quickly grab a shovel
I win and see the taco
Shovel the succulent taco in to my mouth.
The war not yet won, but finished.

8.
The waves racing to the shore
like white stallions
pebbles crashing together
fighting for first place
the erosion so strong
fishes swim in the sea
flowing with the seas current mood
the sand gripping at your feet
never letting go
the taste of lemon and lime
snow cones
dancing on my taste buds
snorkling in the deep sea
the coral drawing you deeper
children filled with wonder
staring in to the silky sea
smells of salt and vinegar
crashing waves hitting the surface
like a thunderstorm
packing up for the  day
leaving memories behind.

9.
The demons are hiding
Slowly destroying everything
Don’t get too close
A cat with a laser eyes
Burning in to my mind
We’re not going back
Emptiness everywhere
A lonely spud in the dark
Not even the shiniest spoon makes light
Pen lids and plugholes
Holding the darkest secrets
Stuck at the bottom
I watch the grassy field constantly
A single perfect daisy in the middle
But the boy came and picked it
Stuck behind a screen
Thousands of miles between
Need to get through
Believing is a dream
Reality isn’t what it seems

10.
Starting an adventure with my family
Alone on the wide sea in the Indian
Starting at Swansea and ending in Sydney
I have a fear of drowning since my boyhood
Ever since the boats were made of wood
If I was to rewind time, I definitely would
Now on my adventure I am always scared
Swansea to Sydney is where I’m being led
Where was the end?

11.
Swimming gracefully through the deep blue
the apex predator
on the scent of his prey
the great white swimming death
a lonely life for hunters
steatherly sliding under his prey
suddenly swimming vertical
and propelling himself up
bursting through the group of seals
shooting out of water and in to the air
he will eat well today.

12.
When you cry it reminds me of the river
every tear falls like the leaves off the trees
the sky is limiting your soul
set it free, fly like a bird
far away from here

13.
As I tread towards the light
my mind wanders elsewhere
life is behind me
there is nowhere left to run
I reluctantly step forward
In my favourite shoes

Blinded, hurting, depressed and weak
My only wish is that I don’t go in to oblivion
That I am never forgotten
But always missed
I reluctantly step forwards
In my favourite shoes

Maybe there is a heaven
Maybe there is nothing
Wherever I end up
I want to hold on to who I was
I reluctantly step forwards
In my favourite shoes

14.
She stands there glamorously
Her dress surrounding her feet
Being swallowed by the satin
Disguised by the fascinating fascinator
Her face a silhouette of her own shadow
Her hat trying to cover her face
Taking the roots no one knows of
She still turns the heads of passer-bys
Her face as clear as glass
Lips standing out red and bold
No one knows her name
All they know is that
She’s the lady in the satin dress.

15.
a truly beautiful place
the light illuminating space
a dark cavern filled with light
suddenly disappears out of sight
pink, purple, amber hues
suddenly takes away the blues.

16.
The tall towering trees soaring the sky
The bright beautiful flowers plugged into the earth’s soil
The grass coverings below my feet
Many people follow these majestic paths
The paths that have been stepped on for years
Such beauty unappreciated slowly losing touch
Losing connections from the wildlife with phones and headphones
All reasons to lose touch
Social media is made for
Connecting worldwide but it’s preventing us from connecting
With what’s around us, and what’s important
Battery time is unimportant and nature is my music
Too focused on your phone while the world slips away beneath you feet.


These poems are motivated by a series of different pictures and postcards that the class chose to inspire ‘free writing’. 

1.
Champagne done
flowers done
ring in champagne done
she walks in in a heavenly dress
looking glamorous as always
like Cinderella but more beautiful
with her golden blonde hair
swaying around the top of her head

we dance
me with my moves, her like a princess

time has come to propose
champagne done
flowers done
ring on finger done.

2.
a plane- just a plane
left and never came back
engine fails and a fin breaks off
just one photo remains
as the plain plane plummets

3.
Adrenalin building
Thinking about 80 minutes
Nerves shaking
My blue kit is on
Like the sea in mumbles bay
Shimmering like the sun
Walking through the arch
Crowd cheering out my name
It’s time to shine
I run to my position
The ball comes my way
It’s my opportunity
I run with the ball
6ft prop running my way
side step
score the try the crowd cheer
their turn to attack
they had skilled the whole team
except me
it was my chance to get the perfect game
he ran at me full speed
bounded at me, I was on the floor
it was 5-5
I had to score
The last chance
They made a break
We had no chance
Goal.

4.
searching, searching
my son left
one trace I found
a note on the fridge
‘gone for chicken’

ran to the car
ignition on, 5th gear
to nandos

nothing, no trace
ignition on, 5th gear
to KFC

Peer through the window
My son not apparent
Starting to think it was a false DNA test

Nothing, no trace
Ignition on, 5th gear
Last resort- McDonalds
I knew if he was there
He would not hide
There he was happy
Ordering a happy meal.

5.
By himself
nobody to love him
all alone
he cries to himself
thinking what to do
devising a plan
at the shop
he gets the gear
he gonna do it
to the pub
he downs some booze
he gonna do it
drunk
he takes the gear
he ties the rope
one end of the bannister
he kicks the stool
he gonna do it
it’s over now
he’s free
he’s gone n done it.

6.
Ninja mouse in the tree
Ninja mouse filled with glee
Ninja mouse takes a chance
Ninja mouse swings from branch to branch

Ninja mouse can jump so high
Ninja mouse can touch the sky
Ninja mouse does lots of tricks
Ninja mouse will eat your crisps

Ninja mouse thinks nature’s great
Ninja mouse does not support hate
Ninja mouse cannot eat cheese
Ninja mouse has a dairy allergy

Ninja mouse has acorn grenades
Ninja mouse performs at parades
Ninja mouse has little hair
Ninja mouse just got eaten by a bear.

7.
Feathers everywhere
literally
everywhere I look, they’re there
although I have no idea where they came from
actually
maybe a bird
but where is that bird now
I wonder?

8.
the only old red box
away from civilisation
why is the box there
who could it be for?
Who could of put it there?

The bright metallic red box
In the middle of the dark
Who would leave the poor box there
But secretly
No one put the box there
It came itself, it was alive.
When someone called.

9.
Every day he would play that horrible trumpet
whether I was asleep or awake
he thought he was good
but he couldn’t even read music
playing random notes, an everlasting prank
every single morning
my heart sank.

10.
This is a story about a granny
who hit the town on her 89th year
walkin around with her crew of balloons
showing her swag on her 89th year
she’s gonna shop till she drops
on her 89th year
this story turn sour, when she got hit by a car
on her 89th year
the balloons turned sour and rained on the guy
on her 90th year.

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