For the last year or so, I’ve been posting some of the amazing poems our students write on twitter on my account KateClanchy1. I had a few hundred followers, mostly writers and teachers like me, and I used to get a lot of lovely ‘likes’ and comments to share with the students. One or two poems went further – for example Mohamed Assaf’s very moving poems about Syria, and Iesha Jennings very funny protest against Year 11 pressure ‘I Want to Be the Moon.’
So, on Tuesday when I just couldn’t choose a winner for the Year 9 Poetry Competition, I put some of the entries on twitter. A few minutes later, my phone started buzzing like a toothbrush. The poems were getting a huge response and being retweeted by people like James Rhodes, the famous pianist. A couple agreed to read Flora Pizey’s poem at their wedding. Someone else was going to frame Freya Carter’s – and they were being retweeted thousands of times. The next day was World Poetry Day, and several high profile tweeters suggested checking out my entire account as a good thing to do, and more and more of our students poems started to be retweeted and praised.
On Friday, I put up Louie Wright’s poem When I Was a Kid I Waited… It’s been published twice in fact in book form already, once in one of our anthologies and also in a City Libraries anthology : all the same, I spelled his name Louis and took the surname off, for privacy reasons. Which was fortunate, as the poem was promptly retweeted by JK Rowling and has now passed across the screens of 2.5 million people.
On Friday night, Jamie Allport’s poem was retweeted by the famous poet Michael Rosen, which is a huge compliment.
By Sunday we had nearly 5000 people following our account.
We are already having an anthology of OSA poems past and present published by Picador – it’s called England, Poems from a School. Now we know how well it will do. Our students really are exceptional writers, and they can touch the heart of millions.
Freya Carter, Flora Pizey, Edie Michael – all wrote much adored love poems. Freya’s is on 14.5k likes.
Iesha Jennings – her subversive poem started the ball rolling
Aisha Borja – a lot of dyslexic superfans!
Jamie Allport : Huge honour to be picked out by Michael Rosen
Mohamad Assaf – Retweeted by Lindsay Hilsum, breaking hearts across the globe.
Hasan Sana – his poem about his brother makes adults cry on trains.
Louie Wright – went global.
Kate Clanchy – Writer in Residence