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The University of Southampton

Poetic voices inspire local schoolchildren

Published: 3 March 2008

Three of Britain’s most vibrant poetic voices will provide entertainment and inspiration to three hundred Southampton schoolchildren at the University of Southampton’s ‘LitFest’ literature festival for young people on Wednesday 5 March.

Lemn Sissay, John Lyons and Gillian Clarke will each give an hour performance at the Nuffield Theatre, on the University’s Highfield campus, giving local Year 8 pupils an opportunity to meet world famous poets in an entertaining and educational way. The day will be hosted by the author and broadcaster Paul Blezard and also includes workshops for teachers with the visiting poets.

Anne Brooks Butcher, LitFest Co-ordinator, says:

“We are tremendously excited to welcome such celebrated poets to the University. It’s a marvellous opportunity for local pupils to gain an insight into the writers’ work.”

The aim of the event is to promote youngsters’ enjoyment of the written word and to inspire their writing. These aims link closely with Southampton City Council’s priority of raising standards in literacy through providing creative, exciting and memorable experiences for pupils, involving real writers.

Patsy Rath, English Adviser in Learning Services for the Council, adds:

“I believe that meeting such vibrant poets will have a lasting impact on Year 8 pupils and we are very grateful to the University for sponsoring such a wonderful day. Examples of the children’s work, inspired by the day, will be published in the city anthology ‘Write On!’ later in the year.

“We value our close links with the university and look forward to working together in the future to enhance and enrich our young people’s understanding and enjoyment of literature.”

The event is managed by the Guardian Hay Festival and this is the second year of the University of Southampton’s partnership with them.

About the performers

Lemn Sissay

Lemn is one of the hottest poets in the UK. His performances have a great impact with young people, with much of his work influenced by his childhood in care and his long search for his Ethiopian family.

John Lyons

John is a poet and painter who won the Windrush Arts Achiever Award in 2003. As a poet, he was twice winner of the Peterloo Poets National Poetry Competition; and was commended in the Poetry Society National Poetry Competition. He has published poems in numerous anthologies, three full-length poetry collections, and is currently working on his fourth.

Gillian Clarke

Gillian is a poet, playwright, editor, translator (from Welsh) and President of Ty Newydd, the writers´ centre in North Wales which she co-founded in 1990. She has been a tutor on the Master of Philosophy (Creative Writing) course at the University of Glamorgan since 1994 and is a freelance tutor of creative writing, from primary schools to adults. Her poetry is studied by GCSE and A-level students throughout Britain. She has travelled in Europe and the United States giving poetry readings and lectures, and her work has been translated into ten languages.

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