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#SayYourPeace

YOUNG PEOPLE’S LAUREATE FOR LONDON, THERESA LOLA HAS LAUNCHED #SAYYOURPEACE, A CAMPAIGN THAT ENCOURAGES YOUNG PEOPLE TO USE POETRY TO FIND PEACE AND SOLACE DURING THE UNCERTAIN TIMES THE WORLD FACES. 

A recent survey by mental health charity YoungMinds has shown that more than 80% of young people with a history of mental ill-health have found their conditions have worsened since the coronavirus crisis began in the UK. The pandemic has brought with it severe disruptions to young people’s routines, a sense of social isolation, and has prevented some young people from accessing their regular mental health support.

In anxious and uncertain times, poetry is often the thing we turn to when we need comfort. Theresa therefore wants to encourage all young people to use poetry to share the moments when they find peace and calm, and find solidarity in the experiences of other young people.

You can read Theresa’s poem Let Us Play Scrabble Again in our poetry showcase below, and a selection of poetry from contributors.

Campaign imagery and design is by Olivia Twist.

GET INVOLVED 

To take part in the campaign, share an original poem, quote, or a piece of writing with the hashtag #SayYourPeace. Check out these top tips below for more information on getting started.

Don’t forget that to make sure we pick it up, tag @stwevents on Twitter, or @spreadthewordwriters on Instagram. Alternatively, please email your poems to hello@spreadtheword.org.uk, and let us know if you’re happy for us to share them.

TOP TIPS FOR WRITING YOUR POEM

Theresa has some top tips for writing your poem:

1. What are you writing about? – It helps to know what you are writing about before putting poem to paper, or fingers to keypads. It is easy to get trapped in our big ideas, the campaign is focusing on sharing the things that bring you calm and peace; decide what those things are for you first. You could capture a moment of stillness, or you could describe why peace is important to you right now. The poem doesn’t have to be a piece of journalism, so feel free to use your imaginations! It does help to have an idea of what you want to share.

2. Create memorable imagery – The poems that will be shared as part of campaign are quite short, try using descriptions that create interesting and memorable images! Think of a different way to describe whats important to you, and the aspects you are highlighting and celebrating. For example, you could describe the peace you find as a stop-off on a journey, or hitting pause on a film, or you can use specific imagery that suits you e.g. space, nature, video games etc.

3. Have fun writing many drafts – Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t pleased with the first poem you write, practice makes you better! Also, sometimes it takes a few drafts to get the real gems for the final poem.

4. Make use of your poetry toolbox – Are you familiar with simile, metaphor, personification, onomatopoeia? The list goes on and on. The poetry toolbox is so exciting! Maybe try writing lines using one of them you like, and if you like the line you could use it in the poem, or that line alone could be the poem!

5. A poem doesn’t always have to rhyme – Whenever I teach in schools the first thing most students ask is ‘Miss does my poem have to rhyme?’ The answer is no, but if you love rhyme then go for it!

6. Read other poems – Follow the hashtag and read other poems for inspiration! The internet provides such a wide resource, you can watch poems being performed on YouTube, or read poems online, or if you have books even better! Sometimes the best inspiration and learning comes from taking in other poems. This is a wonderful opportunity not just to write, but to get to read and hear more poems too.

MENTAL HEALTH ADVICE AND RESOURCES

The NHS offers tips for dealing with concerns about the Coronavirus situation on their Every Mind Matters project.

If you are struggling with mental ill-health then there are resources and independent advice available from young people’s mental health charity YoungMinds, including their YoungMinds Crisis Messenger.

If you need to speak to someone urgently, then you can call Childline confidentially and for free on 0800 1111.

For parents looking for advice and support, YoungMinds run a free Parents Helpline, available on 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday 9.30am – 4pm).

PROJECT POEMS

Let Us Play Scrabble Again

by Theresa Lola


becoming kindness

by Monika Radojevic


A tail wags against my legs

by Elspeth Wilson


the paradise of normal

by Millie Wood-Downie


We were Superheroes

by Roseline Mgbodichinma Anya Okorie


Saying My Peace

by Idowu Odeyemi


My Peace

by Chi


Little Eyes

by Mawizana


Leading Ludo

by Peace Akande


Dad

by Angela Kent


Solitude

by obinefo ifeanyi


My Poem: the whistle of the breeze

by Temiloluwa Glory


At peace

by Sophia Harari


nameless body

by Michael Emmanuel


Peace Found Me

by Anneliese Amoah


All humans eat

by Laura Zuwa


Heirloom

by Ibrahim Williams


Stop

by Maryam Salem


Locked Down in London

by Rimshah Akhtar


Silence, Silence

by Olúwádáre Pópóọla


Drowning

by Tasha Davenport


lawnmower

by T.S. Idiot


Pouring Glow

by Theresa Lola