Performance poet Sara Hirsch led workshops with our Year 9 classes and our Year 7 gifted and talented students when she visited recently. Sara has been a poet for nearly three years after finding her passion and talent for it at an open mic night. Now she is a full time poet and educator and regularly takes part in poetry slams, festivals and radio shows. Her first collection of poems is due to be published by Burning Eye books later this year.
Sara said: 'I did a question and answer session first, then two separate sessions for Year 9 when I performed about four poems in each, interwoven with tons of questions. Then I did a workshop for some Year 7 students about identity and names. This often brings up personal stuff and they wrote some beautiful work. They were absolutely delightful and I was particularly blown away by their intelligence, politeness and talent. I have never worked with a group that young who behaved so perfectly. I was also really impressed with how they responded to complex tasks and were able to answer questions that older groups usually struggle with.'
She went on to speak about her career: ‘I trained as an actor and always wrote, but I never put the two together but I suddenly ended up at an open mic night and had so much fun performing a poem. It was the most fun I had ever had, suddenly it just clicked. I get to perform my own material and have full creative control. Ever since then I have been hooked and have never looked back. Sometimes I will write three poems in a week and sometimes I will write one and it will take me a month.
‘There is an argument that a poem is never finished because you can always find more in it, but I definitely know when a poem isn’t finished because the wording will be niggling at me or the phrasing is wrong. I know that it is nearing completion as soon as I feel that I am ready to perform it or I want someone to hear it, although I may make amendments after performing it a couple of times with an audience.
'The best thing about being a performance poet is having absolute creative freedom and being paid to express myself. I had all sorts of jobs, like being a children’s entertainer, actor and theatre worker but this is the career that clicked.
'A lot of my themes are quite personal about people, positivity and how life can be really difficult but you have to get on with it and dig down. Love has been a big theme in my work for the past year. As I grew in confidence as a poet I approached bigger themes. I have written poetry about almost everything under the sun, that is what I love about it, you can write about anything. It is like writing a novel really but just more distilled.’