Performance poet Hollie McNish and rapper Inja gave performances and led workshops with groups of our Year 9 and 10 students. The duo gave presentations of their work in the lecture theatre and then guided small groups of Year 9 and 10 students, encouraging them to write their own material.
Hollie, who has performed at the Albert Hall and at festivals around the country, said: ‘’When I was about 25 my partner and my mum started pushing me to go to Open Mic nights. I went to one and was too nervous to read but I watched other people. Then I read and someone asked me to do a gig and it escalated. I gave up my job two years ago to become a full time poet. At the moment I am writing about women’s football for a theatre company and I do festivals and events.
‘If the students are into song writing, lyrics or rap then that totally translates to enjoying poetry. It is the same skill. Everyone has got a story to tell. It can be harder for a guy to talk about his feelings in a poem but in between the silly stuff there is also serious stuff that they try and cloak in the silly stuff. I thought the students today were amazing.'
Inja said: ‘I got into poetry through writing raps and performing them with my friends when I was 15 or 16. Then I got on really well and liked it and it is through hard work and perseverance that I now get to travel around the country and world and get to do rap songs to various crowds. I also host for dance music DJs and events. Through all of that I eventually got into poetry. Rap is rhythm and poetry.
‘From when I was very little I have always listened to very complex wording and was able to copy all of my dad’s reggae songs. The syllable count and tongue twisters were a massive thing. Now it is all a part of what I do. For me the aim is to open the students up to the idea that whether it is poetry, rap, story telling or just writing a list it is all part of creative writing and you don’t have to be the best at English to write something that is creative. They are all individuals and have something that makes them stand out. They wrote some fabulous stuff and realise that they have got something to say that people want to actually hear.’
Mr Jamie Jones, who organised the event, said: ‘Hollie has recently had a sell out tour and has recorded at Abbey Road studios so I am quite a fan. I first heard her piece 'Mathematics' which is her response to anti-immigration publicity and politics and it is a very balanced viewpoint. I thought our students need to hear this ... I have become more aware of the growing movement of modern day poets who are authentic and speaking from the heart. It has been exciting to have Hollie and Inja here bringing their own unique poetry skills to life for our students.’