Students help school pupils develop writing practice for poetry competition

Students from the Centre for New Writing (CNW) at Manchester helped local high school pupils to develop their writing practice in preparation for a poetry competition held by the Centre.

Centre for New Writing logo.

Following the success of a collaboration between the CNW, Alliance Manchester Business School and local high schools in 2017, a competition was held in 2018 to encourage girls at Whalley Range and Levenshulme High Schools to write their own poems and submit them for judging.

Initiated by Prof John McAuliffe, co-founder of the University's Centre for New Writing and The Manchester Review, the scheme saw CNW's PhD student mentors examine the pupils' poems contextually at drop-in 'Poetry Surgeries' located at the schools, with mentors giving advice on voice, images, sound and more.

The pupils were introduced to the scheme by an inspirational welcoming video of CNW's Professor of Creative Writing, Jeanette Winterson. 

In 2018, the pupils took 'Home' as their theme. The resulting poems were both personal and acted as a commentary on current socio-political issues they had experienced. Some poems raised racial segregation, xenophobia and religious discrimination.

CNW's creative and inclusive programme provided the pupils with another chance to voice their concerns in an environment that was non-judgmental, safe and educational.

Simultaneously, the outcome from our programme proved beneficial for both Levenshulme and Whalley Range pupils, helping develop the girls' poetic craft, such as their use of line, metaphor and tone.

It also developed the CNW's PhD students' skills in teaching creative writing.

The CNW offered the winning poets a chance to have their works read aloud and showcase their hard work after weeks of development in the Poetry Surgeries.

The ceremony showcased the ways in which everyday creativity is fostered and accelerated by the input of the many expert writers based at the University.

The CNW's increasing involvement with local schools through partnerships across Greater Manchester - such as Writing with Rylands and the Whitworth Project - has been notably helpful for all participants, both staff and students.

The University of Manchester is dedicated to engaging with the community as part of our Social Responsibility agenda, as working with communities creates opportunities for all members of our current society. 

Find out more about the Centre for New Writing.