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News School pupils share pandemic poetry and art in new collection

More than 120 school pupils from across North Staffordshire feature in a new anthology of poems and artwork inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic

One of the star artworks on the theme 'Change'
Image: One of the star artworks on the theme 'Change'

In times of uncertainty and during a period where many of our children have faced adversity, opportunities which provide a platform and access for expression and creativity are vital.

Dr Jim Pugh, Head of Education at Staffordshire University

The Staffs Poetry Art project encouraged secondary pupils to get creative and explore the themes of ‘Lost Things’, ‘Growing Up’ and ‘Change’ in response to the challenges of the last 16 months.

Staffordshire University teamed up with the Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire's Cultural Education Partnership (CEP) to deliver the project, with trainee teachers in Art and English providing masterclasses to help pupils express themselves through visual art or the written word.

Dr Jim Pugh, Head of Education at Staffordshire University and Chair of the Stoke Reads Senior Steering Group, said: “In times of uncertainty and during a period where many of our children have faced adversity, opportunities which provide a platform and access for expression and creativity are vital.

“At Staffordshire University we have been keen to demonstrate the impact of allowing young individuals the space and freedom to express themselves and share their reflective thoughts through poetry and arts. Building such projects into our teacher training courses has provided our trainee teachers of tomorrow an insight into how the creative arts can achieve so much.”

The digital anthology features the work of pupils from Ormiston Horizon, Blythe Bridge, Co-op Academy, St Josephs and St Thomas More Academy. While entries were not marked, Staffordshire Poet Laureate Mel Wardle Woodend and local artist Kate Windsor picked out their favourites which have a star positioning at the beginning of each section.

Mel said: “For me, it does not matter what the theme or the content of the poem is. The act of writing – of setting time aside to think and to transfer those thoughts out onto the page is the important part, and I think there is something incredibly special about writing down our words – our thoughts and ideas – to share with others.”

Kate added: “Creativity is such a wonderful and integral part of all of us and it has been an absolute privilege to be a part of this project. To be human is to create and not only is it essential to critical thinking and problem solving it is also utterly brilliant for the soul. These wonderful artworks have allowed us to resonate an identity with your thoughts and at other times given a whole new perspective on the world as we know it. Creativity brings us together in so many ways and the best bit is - there are endless possibilities!”

All poems and artwork can be viewed online in Poetry and Visual Arts Project 2021: An Anthology.

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