Caleb Parkin at Haverfordwest High VC School, Pembrokeshire

Sunny day by the water with some young people walking by it

The Poetry Society has seen a surge in Poets in Schools bookings this Autumn, especially around National Poetry Day, as many schools have been able to invite visitors in again. Hosting a poet in school can support students’ creativity, wellbeing and excitement about poetry, and help them to find their voice.

Last week poet Caleb Parkin spent three days at Haverfordwest High VC School, Pembrokeshire, a brilliant school who fostered the talent of a Foyle Young Poet in recent years. Caleb reflects on his time there:

We’ve had three very full and energetic days at Haverfordwest VC. Starting off on the beach on Wednesday – where we were blessed with sunshine – thinking about place or here-ness, inspired by a Larkin poem (which the group will be studying) in dialogue with poems by Kei Miller and Andrew McMillan. Some of the sessions were themed around ‘disruption’ – especially of what a ‘poem’ might be and how we make it. To that end, we used Oulipo and surrealist devices, black outs and cut-ups, to transform a WJEC curricular poem, as well as giving the school uniform policy a makeover.

On Friday, I invited the Year 10s to try out some Maledictions, deploying the Shakespearean Insult Generator, which led to some deliciously wicked pieces of writing directed at judgy people and those who don’t wash their hands. From a few comments, it felt like the sessions had opened up the creative process and introduced the students to new, messy, irreverent means of poem-making, collaboration, answering back to texts and getting back to play.

To find out more about Poets in Schools and to make a booking for later this academic year, World Book Day in March, or even National Poetry Day 2022, head to our Poets in Schools pages and get in touch at [email protected]

Published 5 October 2021