Jan Carson, Poetry in Motion Project Coordinator writes about this year’s Poetry in Motion for Schools

It’s September* already. The leaves are starting to turn, the nights are getting longer and all over Northern Ireland hundreds of teachers and young people are beginning to get excited about Poetry in Motion for Schools, Community Arts Partnership’s innovative and eclectic literary programme for primary, secondary, grammar and special schools.

Supported by the Arts Council, Arts Council Lottery and Belfast City Council, Poetry in Motion is now in its sixteenth year of existence and this year is bigger and better than ever.

Partnering with thirty individual schools throughout Northern Ireland, Community Arts Partnership is working alongside teachers and students to facilitate a series of fantastic interactive workshops and writing experiences led by local poets.

For many of the young people involved this will be the first time they get to meet an actual writer. The experience can be energizing, inspiring and sometimes even life changing.

Liam McCaffrey from Enniskillen Integrated Primary School, one of this year’s participating teachers writes,

“the creative, expressive and literacy skills the pupils will encounter will be hugely productive for their development. From a curricular viewpoint this project is highly conducive in fostering thinking, imagination and language development.”

Enniskillen IPS have been involved in Poetry in Motion for Schools in the past and Mr. McCaffrey is keen to point out just how encouraging and memorable his pupils found the experience,

“my Year 7 class were involved three years ago and benefited immensely, with one particular pupil gaining a Seamus Heaney commendation for achievement.”

Poetry in Motion is specially designed to be fun and interactive, enthusing young people about the power and creative potential of writing, whilst simultaneously enhancing pupils’ engagement with the curriculum.

Poetry in Motion for Schools aims to develop the creative abilities of young people and enable their poetic voice through language and image. The project also seeks to build confidence and nurture imagination in young people, encouraging them to become lifelong readers and writers.

Each year a wonderful team of enthusiastic, specially trained poet facilitators visit schools for six hours spread across a number of sessions. They’ll develop a working relationship with the class and teacher, share their passion for words and deliver engaging, thought provoking writing workshops specially tailored to meet the young people’s needs and interests.

Our writers have a wealth of experience in producing and publishing their own poetry, working with young people and helping to foster creativity. This year we’re particularly excited to have a strong mix of returning poets and poets new to Poetry in Motion. At last week’s induction session, all our writers expressed how much they were looking forward to this year’s project.

Denise Blake, an established poet based in Donegal, will be facilitating workshops in Derry/Londonderry this Autumn. She’s excited about her first experience with Poetry in Motion for Schools and writes,

“I will spend six hours with these students. In the first moments they will watch me carefully. Some will be anxious, some nonplussed. The span of four sessions will contain laughter, colour, images, sounds and so many spoken words. The bridge of time will create revelations, pride and a belief in themselves. It will carry them forwards. Their final smiles will say, I enjoyed that; poetry is not so bad after all. Six hours can be life enhancing, life changing; for the students, teachers, and for me.”

Marion Clarke, who’s been involved in Poetry in Motion for a number of years is especially looking forward to taking her workshops outside to find inspiration in nature,

“In past years I haven’t had the opportunity to take my allocated schools outdoors, so I look forward to accompanying them on a nature walk in the local environment for the first time. I am hoping that that the natural beauty of this area will inspire some great poetry!”

One of the strengths of Poetry in Motion is the project’s freedom and flexibility which our poet facilitators fully utilise to engage young people in a manner particularly suited to their abilities and interests.

Since 2001 more than 15,000 students have taken part in Poetry in Motion for Schools. Over 2,600 poems have been published in CAP’s fantastic Poetry in Motion Anthology which will once again be launched in style during March 2018 at the iconic Ulster Hall.

A large number of participants will have the opportunity to read their work from the Ulster Hall’s stage, following in the footsteps of other literary greats such as Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles Dickens.

Every young writer participating in the project will be audio-recorded by a technician and have their poetry collected in an audio anthology.

2017/18 will be the fifth year of the Seamus Heaney Award for Achievement. This prestigious and highly sought after award considers the work of all the young writers involved in Poetry in Motion and highlights writing of exceptional creativity and maturity.

Here at Community Arts Partnership we are really looking forward to another year of Poetry in Motion for Schools. We hope the project will encourage teachers throughout Northern Ireland to maintain their own passion for literature.


We hope our poet facilitators will be freshly enthused and challenged by their experiences as they explore the creative potential of poetry with young people. But most of all we sincerely hope that all our young participants will be bolder voiced, more imaginative and excited about words; that, as a result of their involvement with Poetry in Motion, they will begin to see themselves as writers with a right to be heard and powerful things to say.

For more information about Poetry in Motion for Schools please contact Jan Carson LAVA Coordinator at CAP (jan@capartscentre.com)

(*September 2017 at time of writing)

Thanks to our principal funder the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, Halifax Foundation, Santander Foundation and Enkalon Foundation.

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New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.