By Joanna Shaw
Today Carol Ann Duffy welcomed schoolchildren from across the region to Manchester Metropolitan University for a special ‘Letting in the Stars of Children’s Poetry’ event as part of the Manchester Children’s Book Festival launch celebrations.
This event was designed to celebrate children’s poetry as well as the Poetry Together competition launched by the Festival’s Creative Director and Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.
Poetry Together aims to bring people together creatively, while also raising awareness of the great work that the British Red Cross do to help tackle loneliness so that they can help the most vulnerable people.
Festival Directors Kaye Tew and James Draper opened the event, welcoming pupils and teachers to Manchester Met. James said, “Today is all about bringing school pupils into the university to experience an exciting and inspirational poetry show. One of the aims of our festival is to inspire the writers of the future and events like this which introduce them to poets and their work and also include pupils performing their own material is one of the best ways to achieve this.
The young compère from Manchester Lancasterian School was so good he can host the festival next year and I can have the day off! The students were entertained by readings from guest poets Mandy Coe and Emma Pursehouse.
Firstly, Mandy Coe, a huge promoter of the importance of preserving nature and wildlife, performed her poems ‘Buttercup,’ ‘City, Seed, Song’ and ‘Extinction’, with the students joining in enthusiastically with the chorus.
Next, Emma Pursehouse stand-up comedian and performance poet, read from her new collection I Once Knew a Poem Who Wore a Hat. Emma gave students advice on how to learn poems by heart whilst reciting her tongue-twisting poem ‘I Have Sheep-Shaped Slippers’.
Finally, Carol Ann Duffy and her musician-friend John Sampson engaged the students (quite loudly) with Duffy’s poems ‘Elvis! Shakespeare! Picasso! Virginia Woolf!’ and ‘Peggy Guggenheim’.
Students were welcomed to the stage performing readings of their favourite poems and ones they had created themselves.
Pupils from the Lancastarian School performed a “yukky poem” about their hatred of school dinners and another scary one about ghosts! Then a group of students who took part in Poetry by Heart recited poems about subjects including pocket money.
Students from Plymouth Grove Primary, Feversham College, Stanley Grove Primary and Lancasterian School were then all encouraged to meet and greet Carol Ann and the guest poets Mandy Coe and Emma Pursehouse to have their favourite poetry collections signed.
The winners of the Poetry Together competition will be announced later today! Good luck to all of the shortlisted entrants!
Missed the launch of the Manchester Children’s Book Festival? Download the MCBF 2016 programme here to read about the fantastic upcoming events.