A love letter to Brent

As part of the London Borough of Culture 2020 celebrations, The Poetry Society ran a series of workshops in Brent schools during the Autumn term 2020, leading up to the creation of a borough-wide ‘Love Letter to Brent’ film. The final film can be watched below. It explores the borough of Brent through the words of its young residents, and reflects on family, friends, culture, and community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Initially envisaged as a Slam project that would culminate in a live multi-school finale, plans for Brent2020 were adapted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Rather than bringing all the participants together for a live event in a competitive environment, a collaborative video was produced. We hope that this collaboration across three schools and approximately 180 pupils will help to generate a sense that even when young people are forced to socially distance, they may remain poetically connected.

Poets Abdullahi Mohammed, Shagufta Iqbal, and Rakaya Fetuga delivered poetry exercises with whole classes or year groups of pupils, before leading focus groups to create the final poems. Two pupils from each school were chosen to read the poem on behalf of their classmates. Alongside this, the pupils created drawings to accompany the poems.

The young poets were encouraged to think about what Brent means to them as a community. The themes they touch on include food, culture, and multilingualism, but also friends, family, school, and their future ambitions. The landscape of Brent looms large – Wembley Stadium and the Number 18 bus to Euston are particularly prominent reference points.

The film was produced by pupils at John Keble Primary School, Elsley Primary School, and Ashley College, working with poets Abdullahi Mohammed, Shagufta Iqbal, and Rakaya Fetuga. The project was delivered by The Poetry Society, and supported by 2020 Culture Fund, part of Brent 2020, London Borough of Culture.

Thanks to teachers and pupils at all participating schools, and to Joelle Taylor for delivering CPD, Grace Porter for Film Production, Meric Pine for Animation, and Gavin Swift for Music.

8 February 2021