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Poet Laureate visits for National Poetry Day

11 October 2019

On Friday, 4 October, Edgbaston High School was privileged to have Birmingham’s Poet Laureate, Richard O’Brien, leading a special assembly to celebrate National Poetry Day.

He spoke from the heart about poetry’s importance in terms of imagination, politics and personal identity. As well as discussing how the poetry of Emily Dickinson allows us to see poetry as a way of looking at truth from a ‘slant’, he also shared one of his own poems designed for younger learners, which explores the role that poetry can play when defining the ‘truth’ of something about which we only have basic, factual information:

Kiranjyot Kaur and Emily Hurst were also awarded their EHS Poet Laureate badges by Richard, and recited a poem in his honour. 

Our Year 10 students were then privileged to engage in an interactive talk with Richard, in which he explored Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 and then interestingly connected it with a more modern poem on a similar theme:

Military Macaw
by Kirsten Irving

Oh Tickle. Horn claws shackled to my flesh,
your grass and fuchsia uniform worn fine
around your middle, in a greying sash,
you’re part-lieutenant, part-sad Valentine.
For 15 years you’ve nursed her memory;
her small-skulled nuzzle, posture like a prow,
you two pressed close in camaraderie;
bright skittles, or two apples on a bough.
Her name was never LouLou; that was theirs,
and yours was different too, though ‘Tickle’ does,
and we’re not her, not one of us who offers
our limb to you, yet still you come to us.
At leaving time, you scratch and peck so fierce
and squawk her name, and hope somehow she hears.

We look forward to Richard visiting us again, and wish him well in his future engagements, most notably as he shares a platform with current UK Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage.

For more information about Richard’s latest work, please view the following links:

https://birminghampoetlaureate.wordpress.com/
https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/info/50141/poetry/1890/richard_obrien_-_birmingham_poet_laureate_2018_to_2020

Mr Gray
Head of English

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