the sea’s breath and the cat’s snow: literacy made human!

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For a recent project, I was asked to join forces with a teacher and librarian at The Charter School in Southwark, to help energise the students engagement with literacy.

They had set in motion a great scheme called ‘own a poem’ .

The idea being that everyone in the school, students and staff, could find a poem they liked or related to, learn it by heart, and recite it at rolling performances over lunch times in the library, or in class, or assemblies.

I’ve heard a few and they have been wonderful! The listening and the performing equally impressive.

On National Poetry Day I was one of three poets (the others were Ebele and Chimene Suleyman) to perform there to school assemblies. As part of this I whisked from my pocket my screen printed hankie poem Disaster, and read it, proof that poems can be portable and handy.

This set staff thinking about texts on textiles, and I was invited back to make ‘literary bunting’ that could wrap around a pop up trolley to┬árove around school bringing the wonder of books to those less keen to visit the library!

Screen printed handkerchief featuring a poem that only uses letters from the word Disaster, printed on a cotton hankie
my screen printed cotton handkerchief featuring a poem that only uses letters from the word Disaster.

I worked with year 7s in their DT/textiles lessons. I was thrilled with how at home they felt with rhythm, colour and texture in both words and cloth. Everyone settled on a juicy quote and we worked out ways to put these on our triangles of rag: forging a whole new image text epic from scraps!