A SERIES of spoken word workshops at schools around the North East will culminate in a live poetry event next summer.

SlamFresh, a company that delivers writing and performance workshops around the region, has been awarded Arts Council England (ACE) funding to support 40 sessions that will engage more than 100 young people.

Rowan McCabe, also known as the world’s first Door-to-Door Poet and a director at SlamFresh CIC, said: “The plan is to improve literacy and speaking skills through the workshops.

“The young people will perform their work in poetry slams in out-of-school venues, and the project will culminate in a final sharing event at Live Theatre Newcastle next summer.

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“The popularity of poetry, especially spoken word, continues to grow on an unprecedented scale. Artists like Kae Tempest are now familiar from packed stages at Glastonbury, while poetry seems to have permeated every medium, from Instagram posts to Nationwide adverts.

“However, last year poetry was nearly made an optional GCSE subject. Young people can find studying poetry hard and teachers often admit to finding it difficult to cover.

“That’s where SlamFresh comes in – myself and fellow directors Donald Jenkins and Jeff Price deliver writing and performance workshops around the North East of England.

“We embrace styles of poetry that are direct, accessible and engaging and we believe poetry is a powerful tool, one that gives young people a space to express themselves in a safe and supportive environment.

“We are particularly passionate about working with those who might not usually get the chance to take part, whether that be for financial reasons, or the many other obstacles that can come along with that.”

SlamFresh has been awarded funding from Arts Council England to run projects in:

* Mortimer College in South Shields (October 11 to November 21);

* The Grange Learning Centre – Witherslack Group – in Low Willington, County Durham (November 2 to December 4);

* Burnside College in Wallsend (November 2 to December 14);

* Cardinal Hume Catholic School in Gateshead (January 16 to March 6, 2023);

* Sacred Heart Catholic High School in Newcastle (March 1 to April 26, 2023).

The sessions will be run by poets Rowan McCabe, Donald Jenkins and Tahmina Ali. Each group will be guided through the process of writing, editing and performing their own poetry. They will finish with a poetry slam in an out-of-school setting in venues yet to be confirmed.

The project will culminate in a masterclass facilitated by World Slam Champion Kat Francois. This will be followed by a final showcase event at Live Theatre in summer 2023.

Lindsay Warren, the Curriculum Leader for English at Burnside College said: “Our pupils always have great ideas but sometimes struggle to have the confidence to articulate them.

“Working with SlamFresh is a unique opportunity to really take those ideas from page to stage and I can’t wait to see our pupils’ confidence flourish alongside their creativity.”

Find out more about SlamFresh here: https://slamfresh.co.uk/

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