On Thursday 15 June, we launched the Children & the Arts PoetryQuest 2017 Anthology with local schoolchildren at Square Chapel Arts Centre in Halifax, Yorkshire.

180 children have contributed to the collection, from the three schools who took part in this year’s PoetryQuest: Beech Hill School, Moorside Community Primary School and St Mary’s Catholic Primary School. Children & the Arts has run literacy initiative PoetryQuest for seven years as an introduction to performance poetry, bringing professional poets, arts venues and schools together across the UK. For the past three years, Square Chapel Arts Centre has been our arts partner for Calderdale, West Yorkshire.

Dame Penelope Wilton DBE, Ambassador for Children & the Arts, was delighted to return to her Yorkshire roots to read a selection of the original poems and listen to Beech Hill School pupils perform their own work alongside PoetryQuest poets Winston Plowes and Keith Hutson.


 


 


 

Actor George Costigan, Patron of Square Chapel Arts Centre, joined us at the launch and hosted a Q&A session on the stage with Dame Penelope Wilton answering questions from the children.



Dame Penelope Wilton spoke to the children passionately about the value of writing and storytelling:

I think every single one of you is a poet and will probably always be a poet. Because that’s what happens in life, once you start very young it becomes the norm and you go on doing it. What I do is I act and I tell stories, so I’m always fascinated by words that make up stories – and the words you use seem to me to be great.

I wish above all that I had had the chance to do what you’re doing. I know it’s probably just what you do in school now, with these two wonderful poets, but if I’d had a chance to do this when I was young I would have had an appreciation for the spoken word a lot younger than I did.

To celebrate the end of this project, each child has received a copy of the published anthology with their work ranging from inventive haikus and rhyming love poetry to poems about speed, animals, aliens and magic. We hope this book continues to inspire and encourage their creativity for many years to come.

Children & the Arts is very grateful to Jonathan Moulds for his generous support of PoetryQuest in Calderdale.