By Jack Holmes
Wordsmith’s Artistic Director Chris Jam and YA author Alex Wheatle presented a host of young poetic talent, including some rap, some hard truths on political issues and even some flute at Manchester Children’s Book Festival’s Generation #MCRTakeover this weekend.
The duo introduced a series of poets who were mostly part of the local Young Identity group who run workshops in Moss Side, Longsight and Rusholme: “A few of them are feeling quite nervous, these are young writers that have never done anything like this before.”
Nerves no in sight, the young poets took the stage by storm as if they’d been performing in front of audiences of this size for their entire career.
Topics ranged from sexuality, to racism, refugees and Brexit, giving an insight into what the youth of Britain really thinks about the issues facing not just them, but their country.
Chris Jam said, “It’s always a pleasure to hear so many young people addressing such important topics.”
The poets performed two poems each, with Cathryn Williams providing musical entertainment with her flute between the two to, her words “cleanse your pallet”.
A number of the poets really stood out with their originality and skill. Safwat Elsenossi performed both a poem and a rap and both took the crowd’s breath away. Although classing himself as “definitely a poet” rather than a rapper, his rapid verses on social issues discussed with such a musical beat felt almost as hypnotic as a catchy hip-hop track.
He said afterwards, “I started writing for fun, I used to think I could write better than the people we were reading in high school.” When asked how far he felt he could take his talent, he shrugged and smiled: “I’ll take it as far as I can go”.
Another writer was Rae who delivered a striking poem about “the elements of my youth that I felt could be applied to most people when they’re growing up”. She spoke about her lost history, and like many other speakers, touched on issues of race that are perhaps more important now than ever before. “They’re the aspects of my own life that really affected me”.
One audience member spoke about the inspiring event commenting, “I honestly feel like going home and writing poetry right now”.
If you want to find out more details about Young Identity’s up and coming workshops and events you can check out there website here. If you want to find out more about Wordsmith’s Poetry Performance Projects you can view their site here and check out their promotional video below.