Year 7 students were lucky to have the opportunity to take part in a session with Joel McKerrow this week. Joel is a performance poet who travels the world sharing his poetry and talking about his craft. Joel has visited Siena for the past three years and we were thrilled he was able manage another visit before heading off to the United States and Canada on tour.
Having Joel perform is so beneficial to students who are currently studying poetry in English. In seeing the performance, students begin to understand that poetry is about more than just the words on the page – it is pace, rhythm, emotion and the gestures that come when it is performed. As Joel said himself, “When you perform poetry, it comes alive.”
The students were able to experience the joy and humour of Joel’s poetry as well as the seriousness – often all in the one poem! After Joel performed, students reflected on how they were able to get to know who he was through experiencing his poetry, and to feel inspired themselves.
Joel explained that poetry allows writers to put abstract ideas like love, fear, and pain into words by bringing imagery and stories together. By doing this, a poet can take their reader on a journey and give them an experience – two things that Joel always strives to do in his poetry.
Ultimately, Joel wanted students to embrace what makes them “weird” and his message for them was to shape their lives around what they love. We also hope that it inspired the girls to develop a deeper appreciation for poetry and to have a go at writing themselves.