Poets Mark Grist and Mixy, collectively known as Dead Poets, held writing workshops with students at Brooke Weston and put on stunning performances in assembly.
The duo, who have been critically acclaimed at the Edinburgh fringe, have built up a cult fan base after a ‘rap battle’ went viral on the internet. They have just headlined the poetry stage at the Latitude festival and have been commissioned to write pieces for Oxfam and the BBC.
Mark, a former English teacher and Mixy, a rapper, decided to experiment by swapping roles. Mark said: ‘I tried to be a rapper for a year and Mixy tried to be a poet. I started learning more about hip hop and started rap battling while Mixy started doing a cappella spoken word performances entered poetry slams.
‘I had a rap battle that went viral on the internet. It is like boxing with words and it is pretty raw, you can say anything. The skills that we have allow us to work well in each other’s art forms.’
Mixy said: ‘Since Mark and his rap battle he has got a little cult fan-base and a lot more support. Compared to when we started poetry has grown to be more accepted. Mark might write the basic structure of a piece and give me some lines and sometimes we will pass a pad back and forth and add some lines on it. We have no set structure to write, we are very loose and free with it. We wrote for Oxfam for the borrowed books and for BBC Free Speech.
‘Last year we wrote 100 poems in a day for charity, for Ministry of Tourism London. People on Twitter were sending us titles. If you have all the time in the world to write a piece you will spend all your time doing it and look at every potential option. If you have to write quickly you will find yourself being led to places your wouldn’t normally go to which is quite interesting.’
The pair led writing workshops with our Year 9 students. Mark said: ‘Our students have been really funny and still have got stuck in. Every class has produced some really good stuff, they have put the work in. Teenagers are actually getting really interested in poetry and are realising that it is just lyrics.
Poetry has got to the point where we were thinking it wasn’t a human thing any more, it wasn’t a personal thing that affected all of it, It is something that old dead guys wrote and you look at it on a piece of paper and it is solid and non-changing and doesn’t have an effect on you. What we try and do is have fun, play with words and show people that it is as much theirs as anyone else’s.’