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LAURIE BOLGER LOOKS BACK ON HER TIME IN THE POETRY POTTING SHED

 

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I was lucky enough to spend a residency at The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with SPOKE London, facilitating poetry workshops in the stunning Poetry Potting Shed. Stunning? A shed? Yes mate!

Parked up next to the South Plaza Fountains this cosy little number was host to hundreds of members of the public from oldies, to parents to little’uns to teens. In sunshine or heavy rain the shed drew in the most amazing crowds of people who dug, planted and grew their own poetry with a little help from myself and my “miracle grow” shadow artist Becci Fearnley.

Highlights from the week included a little legend with big ideas named Holly. Holly came into the shed with her mum and wrote a poem titled, “The Edible Bedroom” it was epic! She then sat on the biggest chair in the shed and read her story-poem to a group of under five’s, who came in and sat on the floor. They laughed and listened and clapped and it was magic to watch.

Poetry Potting Shed Mixdown by Laurie Bolger

I think it’s pretty cool that one minute you find yourself walking through the huge space that is The Olympic Park and then the next minute you are chatting to a total stranger in a tiny shed, sharing memories and words with them. It didn’t matter what age or who you were, all our visitors opened their minds and got creative. Families wrote group pieces and left the shed giggling and reciting each others poems.

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 20.20.22 copyEven a few bashful shoppers wandering to Westfield stopped in to see “what it was all about” and the next minute the whole shed was in tears as one of the ladies wrote a poem titled “A Letter to Myself”. She has written an emotional piece from the voice of her mum who had died this year and what she would say to her had she been shopping that day. It was really moving and they stayed writing with us for ages!

On the final day, we even had a little dog called “missy” join us with a family of eight who wrote poems and we held a mini poetry slam and competitions, although shy at first by the end of the workshop they were loving life in the shed!

Our workshops were framed by our gorgeous “Poetree” at the end of the sessions, we’d give people the opportunity to write their best lines on little green leaves and pin them to the branches.

Old folk sat out the front in the sun while little people chilled out on the cushions, the sense of community was amazing.


The Poetry Potting Shed is part of SPOKE: Air, a wider programme of events to promote poetry and spoken word across East London.

SPOKE is a partnership project between A New Direction, Apples and Snakes, Spread the WordSWEP (Spoken Word Educators Programme), and Discover Children’s Story Centre. Commissioned by the London Legacy Development Corporation as part of their legacy activities in and around the newly reopened Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

 

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APPLES AND SNAKES RECEIVES NATIONAL PORTFOLIO FUNDING
FROM ARTS COUNCIL ENGLAND

High400x400Apples and Snakes, England’s leading organisation for performance poetry and spoken word, has been awarded National Portfolio funding from the Arts Council for 2015-2018.

We are very pleased with the outcome of today’s funding announcement by Arts Council England, in which Apples and Snakes has been made a conditional offer of £455,000 a year for the next three years as a National Portfolio Organisation. Apples and Snakes is the leading organisation for performance poetry in England, and this funding will enable us to continue to stretch the boundaries of poetry in education and performance, by inspiring participation and giving voice to a diverse range of spoken word artists.

As the leading pioneer of the artform we have ambitious plans for the next three years, including cross artform and cross sector collaborations; the creation of groundbreaking work incorporating live performance, participation, artist development and digital content; and increased international working. We will nurture spoken word artists at all stages of their career, and will champion marginalised voices, continuing to work with vulnerable and disadvantaged people through our highly respected participation and outreach programme. We will also continue to develop our work across the country, with our national structure and collaborative approach ensuring a broad geographic reach.

As an Associate Bridge organisation from 2012 – 2015 Apples and Snakes will continue to work closely with A New Direction as an advisory partner, embedding our library strand and Arts Award into our wider participation offer from 2015. This will be supported by the creation of a new post in our Participation and Outreach team with a focus on development work with libraries and communities.

The staff and board of Apples and Snakes would like to express our thanks to Arts Council England for its support and funding. Over the next three years we will continue to work hard to produce exciting, innovative work that raises the profile of spoken word and pushes the boundaries of the artform for artists, audiences and participants.

New ArtsCouncil NPO logo

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Antosh Wojcik gives an inside view of the WORDCUP2014 workshops with Indigo Williams at Saint Gabriel’s College…

THURSDAY 15 MAY
Session 1 at Saint Gabriel’s College

Nerves. Nerves kick. It’s the first time I’m meeting Indigo Williams AND an entire Spoken Word Club full of students. Waiting in reception, I’m greeted by a student who is a part of the club but can’t be at the session today. She tells me how being a part of Spoken Word Club and writing poetry has helped her with her anxiety, how Ms Williams has given her a place to be herself, where no judgements are passed on her. She tells me it’s like a family. All of my nerves disappear.

I meet Indigo and she seems happy that I’m here to help. She introduces me to the staff of the Communications Faculty, all of whom smile and welcome me. We collect the group of poets from the canteen, a weekly ritual I’m told. Loads of excuses flood in, detentions, without-notice doctors’ appointments. Indigo assures them it’s OK. We gather all those who can attend and head to our designated room.

I’m introduced to the group and we get started with a poetry café. We make a circle of chairs ready for each student to step into the centre and deliver their work. They do so to clicks, leaps in chairs, outbursts of support. The writing flies. I can’t wait to see where they take their piece next.

We get started on an exercise, a list poem starting with the phrase Five Things I Would Say To… I try encourage a boy to write about his family. Asking him what he cares about, he says basketball. I ask him to write about how he feels on the court. He says he feels big, even though he’s short. Everyone calls him Shorty. He starts ‘leaping like a monkey’ on his page and before we can share, time is up. It’ll have to wait for next session.

Indigo thanks me for my help. I can’t describe how fast an hour session goes. She tells me we’re preparing for a school showcase before WORDCUP, so it’s going to be a pretty mad dash to get them ready. I say, we’ll get there, it’s amazing to be a part of a project like this, they just need to see that.

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See Antosh in action, performing his poem ‘Catching Hand’

 

THURSDAY 22 MAY
Session 2 at Saint Gabriel’s College

Week goes by like lightning. I’m thrown back into the room having had some time to discuss next steps with Indigo. It’s great to work with someone who is so focused on developing the students’ spoken word skills.

At the beginning of the session, we have a mix of people from the last meeting and some new faces. Indigo asks me to perform a poem, which makes me anxious. It’s hard for me, standing up, telling these poets what they could do with their work, to then bring my own poetry and share it… but I should embrace what I teach! As I perform, the students meet me with the same respect they show each other and Indigo, and clicks start happening. I’m not really used to that either…

This starts our sharing session for today. Again, the poems leap and dance out of the mouths of those who have brought work. Not everyone has something to share today, which is a shame.

We begin our activity; group haikus on the theme of ‘family. Indigo starts one on the board to prompt the poets to finish it. There are three teams. Those with the best line get crisps. Sure enough, Team 1, who finish first, win it and munch as the other two teams begin their group haikus. The exercise works great to get everyone focused on tiny pieces together, to pay attention to every word as close as possible. I do my best to join each group for a moment, help prompt them further. We then have a mass sharing of the group haikus. Some have really struggled but overcome their inner urges to rhyme. Rhyming is a no go here; it obstructs the truth.

We break for this week. We instruct the students to bring more poems for the next session, especially those who didn’t write new pieces for this week. I hope they bring them along, I want to hear everything they have to say to get a better understanding of who they are.

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Follow the progress of all our teams of Twitter by following #WORDCUP2014

WORDCUP2014 is part of SPOKE: Air, a wider programme of events to promote poetry and spoken word across East London.

SPOKE is a partnership project between A New Direction, Apples and Snakes, Spread the WordSWEP (Spoken Word Educators Programme), and Discover Children’s Story Centre. Commissioned by the London Legacy Development Corporation as part of their legacy activities in and around the newly reopened Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

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Shadow Poet Sophie Hickson gives us her thoughts on WORDCUP2014 so far…

FORGET THE WORLD CUP! IT’S ALL ABOUT WORDCUP 2014!

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A few months ago I approached Apples and Snakes about potential poetry opportunities coming up. As a new poet (one year this May), I was keen to get as much, varied experience working in the poetry world as possible. Finally, a community of people, who at first and even a second glance seem completely different, are bought together through a passion of words and performance. There was now somewhere I could share my voice and it would be listened to, accepted and given constructive feedback, helping me grow not only as an artist, but as a person. So, Apples and Snakes pointed me in the direction of WORDCUP a 10 school wide, poetry slam project for year 8s and 9s, to improve literacy levels, confidence, team building and countless other soft transferable skills, as well of course, an accessible route into poetry and all it’s wonder. 10 established poets teamed with 10 emerging poets, placed in 10 schools to work with 8 students a piece to create two group slam poems; one free topic and one themed in the air.

6 weeks into my placement, I have learnt a great deal. Not only do I have the honour of working alongside Catherine Brogan, a fantastic poet, but I’ve had the opportunity to work with some talented, albeit scattered young people. Placed in an East London school, where getting students out of lessons or staying after school seems as though you’re asking them to trek Mount Everest. This in itself is a definite learning curve in patience and determination, along with the ability to inspire these 12 and 13 year olds to not only write, but to edit, learn, practice and perform group poems. This has been a challenge! But it’s also been a brilliant and eye opening journey, opening up potential and possibilities within poetry and youth work I never even knew existed. I will definitely be taking this learning further, developing my skill set and experience and sharing this with anyone who has an interest in poetry!

Right now I think I may be more excited than the young people I’m working with. The next few weeks are really going to test everyone’s drive and focus, preparing for the final slam. Maybe it’s my love for all things poetry, or maybe it’s because I can see the growth in ever single one of my eight students, who knows? Either way, I can’t wait to meet all the other teams and have some fun with words in July!

 

@sophchei |Soundcloud.com/sophiechei |Sophchei.wordpress.com


Follow the progress of all our teams of Twitter by following #WORDCUP2014

WORDCUP2014 is part of SPOKE: Air, a wider programme of events to promote poetry and spoken word across East London.

SPOKE is a partnership project between A New Direction, Apples and Snakes, Spread the WordSWEP (Spoken Word Educators Programme), and Discover Children’s Story Centre. Commissioned by the London Legacy Development Corporation as part of their legacy activities in and around the newly reopened Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

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ADAM KAMMERLING: POET OF THE MONTH

2012 shadowy promo

 

What an honour to be named Poet of the Month by Apples and Snakes. I have seen some incredible people’s names in the little box at the top right of the home page and I am delighted and humbled to be lumped in with the crew.

“This is a Southeastern service to Faversham.” 

I am writing this from a high speed train to Chatham. That’s the kind of life I’m living now-International poetry superstar steez. It’s a hectic and bleary life and I like it. Apples And Snakes played a massive part in me getting here, giving me my first gigs outside of the relative safety of Brighton, coaxing me out of my comfort zone and pushing me as a writer and a performer.

“We are now approaching Stratford International.”

The most valuable lesson that those experiences, and the many that have followed since, have taught me, is that the comfort zone is rubbish. As an artist, I’m not sure if anything could be more important to know. I have languished in said zone many a time and found only disillusionment and boredom. I have learnt when to switch it up and I think this might be the most integral part of my practice. Without that I would not have quit a jobthat was grinding me up, I wouldn’t have entered slams, I wouldn’t have put out music, made videos, written poems about subjects as far from my usual interests as barn owls, tower blocks in Glasgow, spies, American desserts. I wouldn’t be working on an album or a show or working as an educator with young people from all different backgrounds. Failure is an essential part of development and without stepping out of the comfort zone, one cannot experience it. Embracing it is painful, but converting it to fuel is a process that l practice most weeks. Like a tree, photosynthesising mistakes. But less good for the environment. Or the view.

“We will shortly be arriving at Ebbsfleet International.”

I’m working on two projects for Apples at the moment. The first is the WORDCUP in which I’m working with a group of young people who don’t necessarily vibe that hard with writing. At least that’s what I was told. Come into a session and you’d probably think different. They’re amazing and I can’t wait to see what happens over the next six weeks. The other is Wordfest at Croydon Libraries. This is a project close to my heart. I love libraries. I love what they stand for and what they contain. Getting young producers and performers to use the libraries in new ways is a cause I am most happy to champion.

“The next station is Chatham.”

That’s me. I don’t know what this school holds, other than a gang of Year 6’s and the workshop I’ve planned. What I do know is that if it goes well, I will float home on a joy bubble. And if it doesn’t, I will be doing some serious re-evaluation (or photosynthesising) and the next session I do will be wild-fire.

 

adamkammerling.co.uk@adamkammerlingchill-pill.co.uk

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Meet number ten, our final WORDCUP2014 coach…

WORDCUP2014 is a celebratory spoken word project for young people aged 13-15. From April-July, teams selected from ten schools in East London are getting the exciting opportunity to work with top professional poets, to put pen to paper and create their own poetry and spoken word. Through workshops, the teams will polish and sharpen their poetic skills in time for the big WORDCUP2014 poetry slam on the 12th July.

#10 DEAN ATTA

With the help of Sophie Fenella Robinski, Dean will be coaching the hopefuls of Buxton School in Waltham Forest towards the WORDCUP2014 slam final!

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“Dean Atta’s poetry is as honest as truth itself”
- Benjamin Zephaniah

Award-winning poet, presenter, performer and all-round creative Dean wrote and produced the critically acclaimed urban musical, ‘Scratched Out’ for the London stage.

He was commissioned to write for Dr Maya Angelou‘s 80th Birthday Gala and for the Gay Icons exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery. He has also written for the Damilola Taylor Trust, Keats House Museum, Tate Britain and Tate Modern.

Dean won the Black LGBT Community Arts Award 2008 and was named as one of the most influential LGBT people by the Independent on Sunday Pink List 2012. He won the Spirit of London Award 2009 for ‘Achievements through the Arts’ for his work in schools tackling bullying and homophobia, and he is now an for ambassador for the Spirit of London Awards.

“Unapologetic, perfectly candid and equally moving” - Writer’s Block

SOPHIE FENELLA ROBINSKI – Shadow Poet

Sophie Fenella Robinski is a poet and a performer from London. Her background is in theatre and performance art, and she is always looking for new ways to combine performance with poetry.

In 2012 she completed an MA in Performance Practices and Research, with distinction at Central School of Speech and Drama.  Since then she has become a member of The Roundhouse Poetry Collective, Jacob Sam La Rose’s Burn After Reading Poetry Collective (#BARPo), and Podium Poets.

1404695_246184338866946_603580010_oSophie has performed both independently and with a theatre company called Portmanteau, and in July 2013 she was long-listed to be the Young Poet Laureate for London. Her poetry has been published on websites and in magazines such as The Bohemyth, Inky Needles, and Myths of the Near Future, and is due to be published by Thynks Publications in 2015. She is also the co-founder of The Patchwork Paper, and is really excited to be working on WORDCUP2014.

 

Follow Indigo and the rest of the coaches on Twitter as they prepare for #WORDCUP2014
applesandsnakes.org | deanatta.co.uk

WORDCUP2014 is part of SPOKE: Air, a wider programme of events to promote poetry and spoken word across East London.

SPOKE is a partnership project between A New Direction, Apples and Snakes, Spread the WordSWEP (Spoken Word Educators Programme), and Discover Children’s Story Centre. Commissioned by the London Legacy Development Corporation as part of their legacy activities in and around the newly reopened Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

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#9 KEITH JARRETT

With the help of Maria Ferguson, Keith will be coaching the hopefuls of Clapton Girls’ Academy in Hackney towards to WORDCUP2014 slam final!

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In 2010, Keith Jarrett simultaneously held the title of Farrago’s London and UK Poetry Slam Champion, and was a semi-finalist in the World Cup Grand Slam in Paris. He has since hosted English and Spanish poetry showcases and coordinated festivals in schools in London and beyond.

Last year, his five-star reviewed poetry show Identity Mix-Up debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. Keith’s short fiction has appeared in anthologies and magazines, including Attitude and Tell Tales IV.

Keith is currently part of the Spoken Word Educators programme, teaching in a London secondary school and studying for an MA at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is writing his first novel.


MARIA FERGUSON – Shadow Poet

DSC_6430Maria Ferguson is an Essex born performance poet with a passion for words and whisky.  Coming up through the ranks of the legendary Roundhouse Poetry scheme she now makes up one sixth of poetry collective ‘Early Doors’ and one eleventh of spoken word ensemble, ‘A Cloud of Foxes’.

With these charming groups of reprobates she has performed poetry and spoken word theatre at venues such as The Roundhouse, The BAC, and in a small pub in Leicester to one man and a dog.  She has performed extensively on the UK spoken word circuit and at festivals including Secret Garden Party and Bestival.

Maria also runs drama and poetry workshops for young people in schools and youth centres across London and the UK.  She has experience in bringing performance to various community settings including retirement homes, schools, prisons and mental health units.

Follow Indigo and the rest of the coaches on Twitter as they prepare for #WORDCUP2014
applesandsnakes.org | zoneonetosix.blogspot.co.uk

WORDCUP2014 is part of SPOKE: Air, a wider programme of events to promote poetry and spoken word across East London.

SPOKE is a partnership project between A New Direction, Apples and Snakes, Spread the WordSWEP (Spoken Word Educators Programme), and Discover Children’s Story Centre. Commissioned by the London Legacy Development Corporation as part of their legacy activities in and around the newly reopened Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

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#8 INDIGO WILLIAMS

With the help of Antosh Wojcik, Indigo will be coaching the hopefuls of St. Gabriel’s College in Lambeth towards the WORDCUP2014 slam final!

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Indigo Williams is a poet, spoken word educator and the co-founder of I Shape Beauty. After bursting on to the poetry scene in 2010, Indigo established herself as an artist who commands the stage with gripping presence and powerful poetry. With both substance and passion, her work is emotive and thought provoking.

She has performed at Tedx Brixton, BBC Radio 4’s Bespoken Word, Glastonbury Festival and is the winner of the 2012 New Generation slam. Indigo is one of 6 leading poets working full-time in a secondary school as part of the pioneering Spoken Word Educators programme in conjunction with Goldsmiths University.


ANTOSH WOJCIK – Shadow Poet

Antosh Wojcik is a poet, performer and writer from Reading. He was joint Roundhouse Poetry Slam Champion 2013 and is currently part of the Roundhouse Poetry Collective, Burn After Reading Collective and Barbican Young Poets Programme 2013-14.

Antosh Wojcik Headshot_RESIZE

He has been a featured act at events such as Bang Said The Gun, London Liming, Tongue Fu, Big Talk and The Last Word Festival at the Roundhouse. He has also had plays performed as part of The Brighton Fringe and at Theatre Royal, Winchester.

He has led various workshops in schools and co-lectured Creativity at University of Winchester. He has been published in the March/April 2014 edition of Little Cherry Press.

Follow Indigo and the rest of the coaches on Twitter as they prepare for #WORDCUP2014
applesandsnakes.org | indigowilliamspoetry.com

WORDCUP2014 is part of SPOKE: Air, a wider programme of events to promote poetry and spoken word across East London.

SPOKE is a partnership project between A New Direction, Apples and Snakes, Spread the WordSWEP (Spoken Word Educators Programme), and Discover Children’s Story Centre. Commissioned by the London Legacy Development Corporation as part of their legacy activities in and around the newly reopened Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

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DIGITAL AND MARKETING INTERNSHIP – AN INTERN’S THOUGHTS
Alice Frecknall

For many, the word ‘internship’ comes with a plethora of negative connotations speckling the spectrum from office dogsbody to stress-riddled, sleep-deprived labourer. So you can forgive a few nerves as I walked into the Apples and Snakes office at the start of April for my first day as Digital and Marketing Intern.

But it soon became clear that Apples and Snakes uphold a very different belief to many of what an internship should be, and work tirelessly to provide a solid training platform for all of their interns. Just a few hours in, and any fears I had were firmly laid aside; everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and I got stuck into work straight away.

Over the first couple of weeks, I had meetings with each of the different teams within Apples and Snakes. Not only were these good opportunities to properly meet the rest of the staff, but they also allowed me to gain an insight into all areas of the organisation and gave me a better understanding of the wider work they do.

AlicePicCropSo far I have spent two busy months with the lovely people at Apples and Snakes, and in that time I have hopped from one digital platform to another, fathomed out how to navigate my way around the Excel maze that is a marketing campaign spreadsheet, and learnt how to schedule social media posts for way off in the future… that’s right, futuristic tweeting. Hootsuite is a God send!

From day one, Nina, the Marketing Coordinator, and Suzi, the Digital and Marketing Officer, have trusted me to work with them on important campaigns, and liaise with artists, colleagues, and venues along the way. I have prepared and added content to the Apples and Snakes website, learnt how to embed videos, resize images, and put together listings, and have finally made friends with the ever-frustrating world that is Photoshop – I even have my very own souvenir flyer to prove it.

What’s great about the Digital and Marketing Internship at Apples and Snakes is that there’s no one-size-fits-all ruling. Nina and Suzi have always taken my personal interests and skills into consideration and given me opportunities to incorporate these interests into my work. I have a background in creative writing, so Nina got me involved in helping to develop the Apples and Snakes blog, and allowed me to work on the marketing for The Writing Room, an initiative for young writers with a taste for spoken word. And, thanks to Suzi, I was even lucky enough to attend this year’s Live Literature Symposium at Norwich Arts Centre and spend the day live tweeting, and debating the brilliant topic of cross-arts collaboration.

I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to work with everyone at Apples and Snakes. And I am particularly thankful to Nina and Suzi who have both been so generous with their time, and forever patient when I still can’t figure out which Facebook persona I’m supposed to be using at any one time. The whole internship has been such an enriching, invaluable experience, and one that I feel has truly enhanced my future career prospects. But it’s also given me so much more than just professional skills; Apples and Snakes has come to feel like a base, a home that I know I can visit if ever I need to.

Apples and Snakes are currently seeking a new Digital and Marketing Voluntary Intern for a three month period. If you’re interested in a career in arts marketing, you won’t find a better place to start than here. For further details, visit the Apples and Snakes website here. Apply by Friday 13 June.

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#7 CATHERINE BROGAN

With the help of Sophie Hickson, Catherine will be coaching the hopefuls of Lammas School in Waltham Forest towards the WORDCUP2014 slam final!

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Catherine Brogan represented London in the UK Radio 4 Slam and was the BBC Edinburgh Fringe Poetry Slam winner 2011. She has been interviewed on the Radio 4 Today programme, and performed at Latitude, Cheltenham Literary Festival, The Edinburgh Book Festival, and Thames Festival.  She was voted Farrago best slam performer 2008 & 2009 and won the Belfast Poetry Cup. She has supported Skinny Man, Scroobius Pip and Kate Tempest.

‘Catherine is witty, wise and a great entertainer. Her poetry makes the personal political & the political personal’ - Paul Burston Time Out

 

Catherine is currently studying on the MA Writer/Teacher course at Goldsmith’s and is part of Peter Kahn‘s Spoken Word Educator Programme. She has run workshops for ten years across the UK and in Kenya, and has spent five years running poetry workshops at festivals and in schools, libraries, museums, and youth clubs.

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SOPHIE HICKSON – Shadow Poet

Sophie Hickson (SophChei) is an emerging spoken word artist, raised in Cardiff, based in London.

With some feature sets under her belt, and a wealth of facilitation experience, Sophie is now meshing these skills and experiences working on Apples and Snakes run WordCup2014.

She’s also set up her own o2 think big funded project, running a series of free creative workshops for young people.

 

 

Follow Catherine and the rest of the coaches on Twitter as they prepare for #WORDCUP2014
applesandsnakes.org | catbrogan.com

WORDCUP2014 is part of SPOKE: Air, a wider programme of events to promote poetry and spoken word across East London.

SPOKE is a partnership project between A New Direction, Apples and Snakes, Spread the WordSWEP (Spoken Word Educators Programme), and Discover Children’s Story Centre. Commissioned by the London Legacy Development Corporation as part of their legacy activities in and around the newly reopened Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

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