Poetry Retreats are temporarily on pause, until there is a clear consensus established from public health authorities about the safety of children's residential school visits with the YHA.
Our Poetry Retreats are empowering visits to sites of natural beauty where all children and adults can throw themselves into four days of expressive, immersive writing. So few children in urban communities have any experience of the great outdoors, and we use it as our playground and our muse. Children explore a huge range of poetic forms whilst learning to think poetically, and mould their thoughts and feelings into words.
Generally, a small number of schools join together for the project, with each one sending a small number of children and a teacher. We begin the project as strangers, but by the end, we are friends united through our shared experience as real writers.
We stay in wonderful YHA hostels and have run previous retreats among the wild horses of the New Forest and the imposing cliffs of the South Downs. We spend our days wandering through forests, along rivers, over beaches and atop mountains.
The project is led by Jonny Walker and Adisa the Verbaliser. The focus is on self-expression and self-reflection as well as the craft of writing. Self-discipline and resilience are built up through pre-breakfast martial arts sessions with Adisa!
Children are empowered to value their voice and to perform confidently. Their written work can be published as an anthology for them to keep, as an optional extra in the project.
The session involves a pre-retreat meeting with all children and staff, a parents' meeting that Jonny will facilitate, the four day retreat, and then a reunion at a later date, at which children can receive their poetry anthologies.
"THE POETRY RETREAT WAS A POWERFUL EXPERIENCE FOR OUR PUPILS, AND FOR MANY OF THEM IT HAS HAD A LASTING IMPACT ON THEIR WIDER CHARACTER AND ATTAINMENT."
SUKWINDER SAMRA MBE, HEADTEACHER OF ELMHURST PRIMARY SCHOOL
"IT WAS AN EYE-OPENING EXPERIENCE AND A WAY TO LET YOUR MIND GO WILD (AND WRITE BRILLIANT POEMS!)"
"I FELT LIKE I WAS GOING INTO MY OWN WORLD. IT FELT LIKE A DREAM, AND I COULD WRITE MY MIND."
ABIA AND AYAN, YEAR 5 POETS, EAST LONDON