Performance poet, Dreadlock Alien, aka Richard Grant, entertained and inspired our Year 9, 10 and 11 students with his interactive presentations during his recent visit. He started his high-octane presentation by performing an improvised poem that he constructed using students’ names from a register, which had them hooked from the start. There was a huge amount of audience interaction with students being invited to submit words which he wove into instant rhyming couplets to form love poetry and then guided them in writing their own love poems before getting volunteers to stand in front of their peers and recite their poems.
Dreadlock Alien spoke to the students about his childhood and recited his own poem ‘Well Done’ a poem about the importance of supporting and encouraging young people to do well and achieve. He said, ‘My own favourite poem is ‘Checking out Me History’ by John Agard which is about black history and protest. It is a good Jamaican accent poem and one that you have to hear performed. It is about bringing words and emotions to life and not to fear poems really. Poets play with words for a living and students can all identify with a poem if they search hard enough.’
As well as whole year group presentations, he also delivered workshops preparing students for the poetry strand of their English examinations. He said, ‘My work is about re-engaging with students, looking at the themes of the poems and giving them memory techniques and micro-quotations that they can use in exams.’ He also met with our Library book club members and student Library helpers and demonstrated how to make mini books of poetry which some students performed to the rest of the group.
Librarian Ms McCabe said, ‘His love of language is infectious and the students were really attentive. I was extremely impressed with the students who volunteered to get up and read their poems in front of their peers. It was wonderful to see just how interactive and instant poetry can be.’
Dreadlock Alien has been touring schools performing his poetry for almost twenty years and this is his third visit to Brooke Weston Academy. He said, ‘The most exciting thing is the changing face of poetry with spoken word and live literature. Spoken word is linked to music. Most adverts nowadays all have little rhymes or raps, so the whole explosion of poetry into spoken word in its many art forms, such as rap, grime, lyrics, that for me is the exciting thing about poetry at the moment.’
Lauren Fitzjohn, Literacy Coordinator at Brooke Weston, said, ‘It was a pleasure to welcome back Dreadlock Alien; he is an inspiration to our students as he exposes the power of language and poetry. He inspired the students to think about the difference their ideas could make and the mode in which they share and use their language to explore ideas on equality, respect and honour. I am sure his words will influence our students for years to come and help inspire the next generation of inspirational writers.’