Teachers: Poetry and Racism

Some of our teacher colleagues have asked us for poetry teaching resources which tackle racism. Here are some poems and resources for starters, and we are currently working on commissioning more.

  • We’ve put together a shelf of our recommended poetry books on blackness.
  • You’re Not Black’ by Amy Saunders was one of the top 15 winners of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award last year (Amy was just 13 when she wrote it). It explores and explodes fixed ideas of race.
  • ‘Not Black, Black’ by Elijah Hammond-Dallas is a SLAMbassadors winning poem which deals with similar themes through spoken word.
  • The poem ‘After the Formalities’ by Anthony Anaxagorou is a tour de force, exploring the history of the concept of ‘race’ alongside his and his family’s own experiences as Cypriot-British people in London. Anthony Anaxagorou was one of the first SLAMbassadors champions and now runs a poetry night and press (Out-Spoken), and his first collection After the Formalities was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize 2019.
  • Hope on a Postcard: inspired by Dr Martin Luther King’s visit to Newcastle University in 1967 to accept an honorary doctorate, poets John Challis and Sinéad Morrissey were invited to run poetry workshops in a male maximum security prison. They explored, with a group of self-selecting inmates, the three themes of King’s acceptance speech: poverty, racism and war. Techniques explored include writing a Golden Shovel, a ghazal, and experimenting with enjambement. You can download the lesson plan and activity sheets for your students here.
  • Many of our SLAMbassadors resources explore identity. Start with this resource based on Samila Naihra’s poem ‘Denied of Identity’.