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Young Wordsmiths

Developing local young writers

In summer 2018, Winchester Poetry Festival launches Young Wordsmiths, an intensive creative writing course for young people with a focus on poetry.  Our aim is to bring together a small group of committed local sixth-formers to work with each other, their teachers and an experienced poet ‘mentor’, to build their confidence and skill in crafting powerful words on the page. 


Offered free of charge, Young Wordsmiths is aimed specifically at lower sixth English students who’d like to try their hand at creative writing, or who want to write even better. In 2018, we’re delighted to be working with students and teachers from five local sixth forms: Barton Peveril, Peter Symonds’ College, St Swithun’s School, Queen Mary’s College, Basingstoke and Winchester College.


Why poetry?


Poetry is and has always been about finding the most memorable, precise and powerful language to express emotion and ideas on a wide range of topics. More than any other type of writing, it’s about getting ‘the best words in the best order’, and that’s a real skill that can be shared, practised and learned.


We kick off with a short course of six talent-development workshops, which will be led by Hampshire poet 2018 Robyn Bolam. These are designed to help aspiring young writers understand and use the English language at a deep level, and give them the practical ‘toolkit’ they need to read poetry with real insight and produce powerful poems of their own. They will also learn how to polish and improve what they’ve written, and share it with other people.

In 2019, we plan to integrate these artist-led workshops into a wider programme of teacher-led activities, exploring how to make more use of creative writing in the class-room.

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What’s involved?


Students can expect a mix of stimulating practical activities on their own and with fellow participants, including:


  • Looking at different types and techniques of poetry

  • Responding to writing prompts

  • Editing their own and others’ work

  • Close readings

  • How to publish and perform work.


They will also be expected to:


  • Assemble a critical portfolio of their personal work

  • Help edit an annual Young Wordsmiths anthology which we will publish

  • Showcase their best work back at their schools and colleges, online and at this year’s Poetry Festival (5-7 October 2018).


Why is the Festival doing this?


Launching Young Wordsmiths is an important next step in realising one of our key goals as a festival - to foster the next generation of poets and poetry lovers locally. We want to:


  • Stimulate local young people’s awareness of and engagement with poetry as a nourishing meaningful art form for them personally, both now and in the future

  • Start to plug what teachers tell us is a significant gap in support for young people’s creative writing between school and higher education. 

  • Develop our festival as a platform for young people to present, perform and share their own and others’ poetry.


At the same time, a key aim of this project is to identify and share ‘what works’ more widely with other educators, poetry umbrella bodies and literary festivals.


Please watch this page for further updates.

Young Wordsmiths
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