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 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 feelings into words.
Generally, a small number of schools join together for the project, which 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 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 build 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.
Meet and Greet
The project begins with an afternoon in school, in which all pupils and teachers meet each other and meet Jonny. We write our first poems together, capturing how we feel as we plan for the adventure. A parent meeting follows after-school, allowing Jonny to share a presentation about what we will be doing, and allowing any questions to be answered. This takes place around a month before the retreat.
The retreat lasts for four days, and the group generally travels by coach to the destination. We spend our days writing and exploring, out in nature. We stay in a YHA hostel, and have breakfast and evening meals there. Packed lunches are provided, and all dietary needs (halal, vegetarian, vegan) can be catered for.
Reunion and Recital
Around a month after we get back from the retreat, we host a Reunion and Recital afternoon at one of the schools. The children get to see their friends from the retreat, and we spend the afternoon preparing a recital for parents to attend after school. In the recital, everyone gets to share films, photos and poems from the retreat, and children and staff will perform their poems and share reflections.
"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