Tuesday night saw me and Adam back at Granville, with an almost totally new group. They did some amazing writing, and hopefully Jodi-Ann will be at the event later to perform her piece, which was definitely a stand-out for me…

The art group were also making kites, so that as people finished their writing they could move through and transfer some favourite lines on to the kites – thanks so much to Rebecca and all the talented young artists involved!

Here are those new poems:

Stagnant.
Strapped to a chair unable to move my limbs
Stranded in the dark night and can’t spread my wings
Strangled by the sour scent of bombs, unrelated to my family
I am the polluted air
I hover over the city and project my fears
An unwanted child. A dead strand of hair.
Oh dear.
A branchless tree.
Treading this narrow road without company.
Listen to my disjointed symphony
Can you hear me?

by Jodi-Ann

I see the dark,
I don’t see the path
Some may be frightened
With the bark
Shiver as if I were blown away
Ignorant choose not to listen to me
Wisdom comes for free
Coming to the end of a long dark shadowed road
Would rather be by the shallow sea
Writing on bricks
Under a lonely tree, the wind blows
Through it’s branches
It sighs happily
Lost, nowhere to hide
But in my mind
It isn’t my fault I
Was born this way
Just hope for the
Day I see the light…

By David

It was an ordinary day
For Peter and his mother May
They wanted a taste of the solid hot air
They drove off without a care
But halfway there
Mother May became a pain in the backside
Trying to get things out of her secretive son.
He left the car
No idea where they were
And sooner rather than later there was
Cracks in the pavement, the breeze was lifting him off his feet
His shoes were falling apart as he reached the start of the bridge
30 minutes passed, 45 minutes passed
He was losing breath
Walking in the heat, as hot as the desert
He felt he was drained of strength
She cried tears that formed puddles, her yells scared birds
She collapsed and just laid there, she laid there and she prayed
Determination, dedication, those two words spun round her head
But she saw “DEAD END” and waved her flag
Two lost people
Dying of heart ache
Guess all endings cannot say “Happily ever after”
He wanted his head-master, she wanted a church and a talk from her pastor

By Deanne

Hope is my bright sunshine,
My bright sky, basically
Bright colours all round

Hope is my laughter
My happy screaming

Hope is sparkly
It is bright
It is soft
It is silky
And heart-warming

It smells sweet and sticky and tasty
It tastes sweet and sticky

Hope is anywhere
Just as long as you have hope in yourself
Hope will follow

By Alice

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Back at St. Augustines for our second (and last!) session, we spent our time in a group re-drafting process, talking through and editing the group piece that me and Adam had assembled from their writing from week one.

Here’s the final result:

In messy handwriting there is written care, peace and acceptance.
In dark is written anger. A man is pushed out of his own country.
I hope it will stop raining.
I hope that I accomplish everything I strive for.
The steep mountain represents it is a hard way through.
From the window you can see the rainbow far away
You can see a stickman happy, but not happy enough
to be the bird and get to the rainbow. No light
at the end of the tunnel. A girl is trying to talk.
Stuck between 4 walls. No doors, no windows. Silence echoes.
Fists clenched, eyes tightly shut.
Want to find the person and hurt them like they hurt you.
The truth is a blur to me. All my hope has been drowned.
The clouds have turned Into a storm with my memories.
A second of hate. A second of hope. The chains have fallen
and now I can walk.
I am up a hill with my sons taking in the wind as a power
And I am strong and my beginning is new and great.
In messy handwriting there is written care, peace and acceptance.

So, refugee week is here!

On Monday I did the last session with the group at Salusbury Primary school and left feeling confident about their performances for the event, which is actually later today!

I also performed in a couple of school assemblies, as did some of the kids – it was great to see them reading their poems to a hall full of their peers, and this will have definitely boosted up their self-belief for the performances later.

As part of the assembly, Sarah also put some questions to a parent at the school, who originally came to England as a refugee from Somalia when she was 11. Hearing her story and memories, in a language simple and clear enough for young children to understand, was a powerfully affecting experience and really brought home the harsh reality of leaving your home at such a young age.

So, after feedback and suggestions from all the groups, here is the second draft of my ‘flight of hope’.

The main request was for more rhymes towards the end of the piece, to keep the listener interested as it reaches it’s climax. I also edited out a reference to a girl in the last verse because a few people had said it was confusing.

On that note, I decided to keep the name of ‘home-town ghar nyumbani’ even though some of the kids found it a bit confusing – we agreed it would be ok if I explained before reading it that ‘ghar’ means home in Hindi, and ‘Nyumbani’ means home in Swahili – so, the imagined place is actually called home-town-home-home because I wanted it just be ‘a home’ rather than a specific place, but to sound like it could be a few different places in the world…

Have a listen here:

Flight of hope
There was a boy from home-town
Ghar, Nyumbani. And this boy
had a kite, a tiny kite, glowing
He carried it around with him
Everywhere, in his shirt pocket
And could not wait to fly it, but
People said his kite was too small
Or that it was too windy today
Or not windy enough…

The boy knew of a hill, a big hill
on the edge-land of home-town
Ghar, Nyumbani. The perfect hill
for flying kites, the boy had heard.
But when he arrived, legs tired
chest hammering, the hill was whispering,
Empty, and the sky was dark. The boy
was too scared to get his kite out after all.
What if he let it go and it was swallowed
by the night? And if this really was
the perfect hill, why was there no-one else here?

Back in day to day home-town
Ghar, Nyumbani, some people
heard about the failed flight,
And laughed, told the boy
they did not believe the kite Existed.
Too tiny. Now is not the time for kites.
Knuckle down. Soon the boy
Had his own voice to deal with too:
Maybe my little kite is better off
in my pocket, glowing just for me.
If I fly it I might lose it.

Back at the hill-top, everything
Was empty still, the sky again dark.
Night steady whispering, hungry.
Legs light, belly fireworks, the boy
took the kite from his pocket,
watched it sitting on his palm
like the last leaf. Breathed for it
a quiet breath of good-flight-courage
It was glowing even brighter now
Shining twice as loud, almost dancing
On his hand, as it began to be tugged up
Away, the wind calling it, quick lift
soar & dip / the boy let out more string,
and Bit his lip and Watched his little kite
glowing as it rose.

And as he did, another kite blinked on
Next to his, sparkling, And then one more
as if to answer it. The sky still a vast abyss,
dark and big, but full of kites now, all glowing
all different shapes and sizes, chasing diving
playful in the fierceness of the wind, and
in its gentle breezes. And the boy looked
around him at the people, holding these kites,
just everyday home-town people like him.
Sending their kites into the unknown.
And he knew that if he let go, right now
his kite would keep rising.

Simon Mole, 2012

Check out this re-drafted version of a group piece some of the students will perform:

Hope is like a treasure, hope is in your dreams
and hope is a thing of life, hope makes you believe
I can hear a sparkle at night
birds singing in the morning, wind blowing in the trees
When there is no hope you feel like a skeleton
DREAM DREAM DREAM
I hope the city is beautiful, beautiful from the sea
hope feels exciting – you wanna jump up and down
Hope is with you now, deeper than blue
Darkness and light. Sometimes it’s true,
sometimes it’s not. There once was a boy
who was big and very strong. He had lots of hope
and this is what he said: hope is like a liquid,
water running smoothly downhill
hope is with you now, a little calm garden
a fox running through someone’s house
A thousand people cheering inside a flat
A wish, a gift, a bit of hope is all you need.

Although it can feel great to have someone onstage next to you when you are reading, sometimes it is harder when you are trying to perform in a pair or a group – in my experience it certainly takes more practise!

All of the young people did absolutely brilliantly in this session, working through any shyness or nerves to start delivering their poems much more clearly and confidently – it was brilliant to watch them performing their own words, and see them start to play around with backing each other up for particular lines…

Adam Kammerling again:

“At Granville we had a bit more time. We held the same discussions as at St. Augustines, and ran the same prompts but the students developed their writings into individual pieces. The students all produced fantastic poems and the range of voices in the group was astounding. From rhyming, almost rap style flows, to narratives encompassing Nature’s extremes, everyone brought something different to the session. Read on!”

Hope
Hope is waking up in the morning
And watching the sun creep over the
Hills to brighten up your day.
It is the sound of the birds as they wake
And greet each other.

By Miguel

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The cry of an eagle makes the gentle wave ROAR on the rocks
That makes the gentle breeze on my face that signals to me to
Dive into the ocean and swim with the dolphins to leap on
One of them and hitchhike a wave which is a tsunami.
As I rise above the trees the tsunami calms down to the point
Where there is no sign of anything living until I hear the cry
Of an eagle and I know that the only thing living is the king of
The sky and his two cries give me the power to see his crown.

By Joseph

When you live with no hope,
Some people do drugs and turn to dope.
When this happens they cannot sleep,
When they are in debt 100 feet deep.
They sleep in boxes in alley ways,
And they sleep all night and beg all day.
Sometimes they sit, think & wonder,
What they might have become if they weren’t pulled asunder
Would they be smart, happy & rich,
He knew it couldn’t happen now that he lived in a ditch
That’s when the thunder & lightning began to rumble
& that’s when a man, who was ever so humble
Lifted me up and took me to his house
When I got on my hands & knees like a mouse
Thanking him for his kindness and keeping me fed
I am ever so grateful now that I have a bed.

By Ciaron

If distraught is disaster
He who or whoever laugh last
It wasn’t my laughter
Heart pacing faster
Inhale life without
Giving an F
So I lie low
Head strong
So I can’t be
Controlled –
I’m alone.

By Wise

Hope is a burning flame
Which drives you to be great
You can find it in heart
And there’s where it remains
Its a million cheers in the back
Of your head, pushing you to be great.
When you’re finding things hard in life
Looking at the brighter side To things
and not forgetting
What drives you to do the things you do.
Dreaming is the biggest part of hope
If you hope for today well i hope
To see another day. When I hope for
Future I hope for many better days with
Everyone screaming my name
From the crowd. I hope for another
To make their dreams come true

By Lyshae

GUEST BLOG: this blog is written by spoken word artist Adam Kammerling, who is working with me in the sessions with St. Augustine’s and Granville Youth Arts. Adam is great. He was recently crowned the Hammer & Tongue UK slam champion, and is all round top guy. Find out more about him by clicking on his name above…

“I came along with Simon to assist on the Flight Of Hope sessions and I was hugely impressed with all the students writing. At St Augustines we began by recreating the sounds of London with our mouths. We heard sirens, phones, traffic, people eating, even a rather breathy helicopter. Then, off the back of a discussion on hope, we drew visual representations of what it is to live without it. Here are a couple of examples:
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With these drawings as a foundation we then wrote on the topic.The variety of themes was quite amazing. From the most specific situations to the most abstract, the work was really impressive and covered a lot. We ran out of time at this point, so later that night, me and Simon got to put everyone’s work together into a group piece, over some Macaroni Cheese. I would be lying if I said this wasn’t a lot of fun. There was so much good stuff. So thank you St Augustines.

I can’t wait to show the students what Simon and I did with their writing – Everyone came up with such interesting ideas and the whole day was super fun. Here’s to next week.

And here’s that group poem from St Augustines, minus any macaroni stains…”

In messy handwriting there is written care, peace and acceptance.
In dark is written anger. A man is pushed out of his own country.
I hope that by the end of this week it will stop raining.
I hope that I accomplish everything I strive for.
The steep mountain represents it is a steep way through.
From the window you can see the rainbow far away
You can see both stickmen happy, but not happy enough
to be the bird and get to the rainbow. No light
at the end of the tunnel. A girl is trying to talk.
Stuck between 4 walls. No doors, no windows. Silence echoes.
Wrists clenched, eyes tightly shut.
Want to find the person and hurt them like they hurt you.
The truth is a blur to me. All my hope has been drowned.
The clouds have turned Into a storm with my memories.
A second of hate. A second of hope. The chains have fallen
and now I can walk. My cheeks are rosy red
And I am up a hill with my sons taking in the wind as a power
And I am strong and my beginning is new and great.