Dean Atta talked about his work and how he became a poet before leading an inspirational writing workshop for 20 students.
Dean, who is also an actor and playwright, recited four of his poems; The Key to the City, Mother Tongue, Fatherless Nation and Revolution. He has just published his first book and is part of a poetry collective performing at events around the country.
He said: ‘Sometimes it is hard to know when a poem is finished but there is only so far you can go before you get absorbed and stressed by it. A friend of mine has a phrase, I think she stole it from somewhere; a poem is never finished, it is abandoned. I don’t think anything is ever perfect but I really believe in drafting and redrafting, but sometimes you can just kill a poem by going over and over it.’
He led the students in a workshop that involved team building and writing techniques to enable them to craft their own poems about an aspect of themselves, their lives or personalities. Many performed their poems at the end of the session.
Dean said: ‘I got into poetry by really writing therapeutic, cathartic stuff about my own life; my mum, my dad and being mixed race. Putting it in poems really helped. I have always performed so I went to open mic nights and had a great time with it. At one of them I was spotted and asked to take part in Radio 4's poetry series, 'Bespoken Word'. I performed one of my poems on there and afterwards got a slot supporting the poet John Cooper Clarke. Performing alongside him was amazing.
‘Poetry is a great thing for confidence, for compassion and empathy, whether you are reading a poem written by someone or hearing one of your classmates reading a poem, you are gaining an insight into someone and you are becoming a more compassionate person. Also poetry is really important for confidence, speaking and listening skills. Whatever line of work you go into you are going to have to talk, read and write so it is an all-round skill.’