The Power of Poetry Rocks the Doncaster Dome

This June five Doncaster schools came together to celebrate creativity, enjoy some performance poetry, and showcase their own poetic talent at a special Doncaster Book Award Poetry Slam. This event followed on from our younger readers event in the morning, but with poet Paul Cookson at the helm once more there was no let- up in the energy and enthusiasm buzzing around the Dome.

Rotary's Jack Cusworth announcing the poetry winnersOnce our Chair Lesley had opened proceedings, the first person on stage was Jack Cusworth from Doncaster St Leger Rotary Club, who were the sponsors of our Doncaster-wide poetry competition. There were around 275 poems submitted from 10 local primary schools and also one from a Home-educated student, so competition was fierce and judging far from easy. First prize went to Polly from Tickhill Estfeld Primary, and she was presented with her prize by Jack at the morning event. Sadly, two of our prize winners could not be present, but Jack was able to welcome on stage Mia, a pupil from Saltersgate School who had won joint third prize. Our other winners, Skye from Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Primary and May from Rosedale Primary, will receive their prizes at school in the next few weeks.

Paul Cookson 3Paul then took over the stage in his own inimitable style and soon had even the ‘cooler’ kids joining in, shouting out responses to poems about Homework and even (whisper it!), Bottoms!!!

Next on stage was author Debi Evans who spoke about her series of books about the fantastical adventures of Rolo, the time-travelling Jack Russell. She read aloud the start of the first Rolo story and went on to explain how her character is in fact based on her own pet, Rolo, a little rescue dog with a toffee and chocolate-coloured face (hence the name!)

Debi EvansDebi’s presentation cleverly mixed pictures from her books with lots of photos of the real Rolo, as she explained how he had found a magical tree in the forest near their home.This tree has its very own dragon and a time tunnel inside, so that Rolo can go on amazing adventures in time and space. Indeed, Rolo has been able to travel to lots of incredible moments in history, from the Great Fire of London to the World Cup of 1966. He is so clever, he even writes his own blog! The audience had some really good questions about how Debi was inspired to write and whether Rolo really could type his own stories!

Ash Dickinson 2More poetry followed with a performance from Ash Dickinson. Ash had recently done some workshops for the DBA, and these were the inspiration behind some of the later student performances. His poems were an extremely eclectic mix, covering as they did the perils of technology, faddy eaters such as ‘The Boy who Ate only Butter’, and unusual jobs, via a poem called ‘It’s a Wrap’ about being a food photographer. He ended his set with a poem exploring difference which began with ‘I always knew I was a bear’. His performance was very different and thought provoking and again we had some good audience questions.

Performance and Poetry from Armthorpe Academy 8The next part of the afternoon was given over to student performances. During the half-term the DBA had run a dance workshop based around rap music so the first children on stage were four girls showcasing the routine they had learnt on that day. Considering they were all from different schools and had not seen each other since the workshop, they showed tremendous bravery which everyone there appreciated. The next four performances were from the Armthorpe School and were really excellent. We had a mixture of poetry combined with dance, song and dance, acrobatics and one very brave student, Cameron, performing solo a poem he had written himself which really brought a lump to the throat. All were excellent and a credit to the students’ hard work.

Some of Chloe's half-term dance workshop showing their moves 5

It was then time for Paul to draw proceedings to a close with a final poem and send the audience on their way. We would like once again to express our thanks to the Doncaster St. Leger Rotary Club and DFS for their kind support, to our brilliant authors and poets and the staff at the Dome for their help. Finally, we’d like to thank the children of Doncaster who have read the books on our lists and taken part so enthusiastically in all our many events and activities over the past year. We love what we do and we could not do it without you!

Lyn Hopson

Secretary, Doncaster Book Awards Ltd.