Poetry Together

Discovering “Poetry Together”

During a BBC news programme, our chair saw an interview with Gyles Brandreth, who described a new initiative called “Poetry Together”. The concept was to get schools across the UK to team up with a local Care Home and both learn some poems. The school would then host an afternoon tea, during which both participants would recite the poems they had learned.

BBC Radio 4 Just a Minute star Gyles enthused: “I love poetry and want to share the joy of learning a poem. The idea is beautifully simple – to get young and older people to learn the same poem and then get together to perform it and have tea. It’s free, great fun, and bridges the gap between generations to the benefit of everyone.”

We have had a close association with Lewis School, Pengam for many years. They have a history of supporting Intergenerational ideas. So, we thought they might be interested in Poetry Together. They were, and they duly registered with the organisers and partnered with Trafalgar House Care Home in Nelson.

The school had some imaginative ideas and expanded the original remit. As well as the Care Home, they involved their intergenerational lunch club. And, as a “thank you” for thinking of them, they also invited our chair to join them.

Afternoon Tea

Everybody met in the school library in early September and rehearsed 4 poems and had tea and cakes. It was a very pleasant afternoon.

Care Home residents having afternoon tea with Pengam school pupils.

The Sunday Times ran an article about Poetry Together (13/10/2019); “Ode meets young as thousands gather to hail poetry”. A cunning play on words; Ode/Old. It particularly mentioned Lewis School in the article. Leon is a member of the Lunch Club and originates from Poland. Kasper Dudeck, a pupil from year 10, is also from Poland and they paired up to recite “The Soldier” in both languages. As a result, we had poems recited in English, Welsh, and Polish.

And we had thought it would end there. But it didn’t!!

Off to London

They were not aware that the organisers might invite them to London to take part in a joint poetry recital. 250 groups from across the UK had registered and 5 selected and invited to London. The Caerphilly entry was one of those five. The event took place in Eaton Square School, Piccadilly, and the Duchess of Cornwall attended. As we found out later, not only were we to recite our poems in her presence, but Her Royal Highness was going to take part!

The event, hosted by broadcaster Gyles Brandreth, followed National Poetry Day. This had highlighted the benefits of learning poetry by heart and bridging the gap between generations. The inspiration for Poetry Together came after Gyles Brandreth had made a radio programme about the value of learning poetry by heart. The programme included research by the University of Cambridge. This showed how learning and speaking poetry benefits both younger and older people.