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Birmingham Young Poet Laureate - Matt's Diary 2007-2008

Matt Windle was the third Young Poet Laureate for Birmingham from 2007-2008.
Here he tells us about his experiences throughout the year.

4 October 2007 - Poets in Pyjamas

The day I was announced Birmingham young poet laureate me and Charlie Jordan had a radio interview on BBC wm with Phil Upton where we performed our dreams poem. Later on that day we met up with other poets and went from Broad Street to the bullring and anywhere in between in our PJs reading poetry to anybody that was willing to listen. (P.S. we got some very strange looks too).

22 October 2007 - The Yardbird

An open mike event with artistic souls. I performed my boxing poem and a poem called the 1999 story.

21 November 2007 - Anti bullying

This was the anti bullying event at the council house. I performed in front of the school children on their lunch doing lots of different poems. This was really hard because they was all walking around and talking between themselves, but another good experience for me. Then after lunch I performed my anti bullying poem to 112 students and it seem to go down well so another good day for me.

28 November - Library Meeting

All the top people from all the different libraries in Birmingham were the audience for this one. So I got off from college half hour early so I could make it. I performed my schools of the future poem and my anti racism poem which I think they enjoyed. This was good for Charlie [Charlie Jordan, adult Birmingham Poet Laureate] and me to see other people from the libraries in Birmingham.

6 December - School Success!

I went to a school in Sutton just to have a talk with over and under achievers about anything they wanted to discuss. They was shocked that I was a poet when I walked in and admitted none of them really liked poetry, but by the end they loved it! All of the kids kept asking for poem after poem and I was soon running out. By the time I left I asked them if the next time their teacher said they're doing poetry if they would sigh or look forward to it and they all said look forward to it so I saw this as a successful day.

7 December - ICC

I performed a poem at this event I was asked to write called Schools of the future. This was a very good and different event for me with a lot of important people there from heads of governors through to politicians. I had a few people ask for me saying they would like me at their school. I was also invited to the Lord Mayor's reception afterwards.

9 December - Unity fm

This was a radio interview I done with a station called Unity fm. They were children's presenters and they asked me 10 questions about my social life, what I do in my spare time, if I want to be a pro boxer etc and then I finished off by doing my schools of the future poem.

13 December - Mail Box, BBC

This was the launch of the new academies which I was pleased to be part of. I performed a poem I was asked to write about education and an extra 2 poems about racism and schools of the future. Lord Andrew Adonis was there where I had my photo took with him and several other people also doing a radio interview on BRMB and doing an interview with Maverick T.V.

March 2008 - Channel 4

I was asked on a Wednesday afternoon if I would like to do a TV programme with Channel 4 discussing the Rivers of Blood speech by Enoch Powell. Obviously I said yes and made the call to the director. He agreed to do it and we arranged it for 6pm Friday. Early Thursday morning I got a phone call asking if I could try and write a poem about Enoch Powell for tomorrow!!! Not the easiest thing I've ever done but I gave it a go and it was ready for Friday. They recorded me doing some training at my boxing gym then asked mine and my mates' opinions about the speech. It was a very good experience and I enjoyed getting my ugly mug on the TV.

March 2008 - Lord Mayor's Tea Party

Dreadlockalien was supposed to do this event but he couldn't make it so I filled in and really enjoyed it. It was nice to see kids that work hard getting rewarded and I think I had a positive effect on them. Parents even wanted my autograph after which was very strange.

Matt Windle at the Blues Ground

April 2008 - St Andrews Football Club

Another great day in my year as laureate at my favourite football ground. I got a free tour round the ground and then got to perform in one of the suites. Once again I had a really positive effect on the kids. When the kids were told they could go they all ran up to the table I was sitting at and asked for my autograph. I felt really embarrassed because I didn't know why they would want my name on some paper but there was no way I could tell all of them kids no. I was even asked to sign balls, hoodies and hats. My poem Birmingham City was in the programme against Everton and I also met two of the players. With a bit of luck I hope to be working with Birmingham City again in the future.

25 May - Young Readers Book Bash

Three 45 minute slots were to be filled on a rainy day at Cannon Hill Park. Me, Charlie Jordan and Dreadlockalien worked together to get kids and adults enthusiastic about poetry, and it worked. We started and ended with a few poems each and got the audience rhyming in between. All three times we performed the tent filled with a decent size audience, which made the rainy day worthwhile.

(This event was part of the Young Readers festival, 2008).

Extra News

Poetry packs a punch!

During his year as Young Laureate, Matt also had a book published. The book, called Fisticuffs, was designed and published with support from Pertemps People Development Group (PPDG), an organisation providing Welfare to Work initiatives for the long-term unemployed.

As a keen athlete and amateur boxer, Matt was also invited by PPDG to the re-launch of Small Heath Boxing Club where he met British middleweight champion Wayne Elcock. They agreed to go together to local schools to speak to children who had become disengaged from school and their education. Matt said that having the book produced was important because he could give copies to the young people he speaks to, enabling them to read his work in their own time and hopefully find some inspiration from it.

Poems by Matt Windle, Young Poet Laureate 2007-2008
Birmingham Young Poet Laureate 2007-2008
About the Birmingham Young Poet Laureate
About the adult Birmingham Poet Laureate
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