Year 8 pupils were delighted to welcome One Love Manchester poet Tony Walsh to Broadoak on Wednesday. Tony Walsh – aka Longfella – has a strong relationship with Broadoak; this is his fourth visit. This time it was Year 8’s turn and the focus was on his iconic ‘This is the place’ poem which he had performed at the vigil for the Manchester Arena bombing. Pupils were engaged and moved by the images of that performance and a second performance at the One Love Manchester concert two weeks later. A poet in the midst of all those musical giants – reading his iconic poem to great applause. His poem voiced the emotional outpouring of a city following that great tragedy. He became the unofficial voice of Manchester in the world media. He showed the pupils something of that experience – how powerful a poem can be.
The pupils were already familiar with the poem and explored some of the ideas of what Manchester has brought to the world. Industrial achievements were celebrated – Cottonopolis – a city built on cotton. Pupils were applauding technological developments, sporting achievements, political movements through key names like: Alan Turing, Emmeline Pankhurst, Karl Marx, Rolls and Royce!
Pupils created their own poems, some using Tony Walsh’s guidance on rhyme, to produce some powerful and memorable pieces. Pupils performed their poems to the class, understanding the importance of the performance as well as the creation of the poem.
In the afternoon some members of year 9 were rewarded with participation in the session. Tony Walsh’s discussion was thoughtful and profound: how deep and how far the influence of a poem can travel. Year 9 asked the important questions: ‘Did you meet Ariana Grande’?
A memorable and moving experience for all involved which produced some outstanding poems as seen below.
Nathan in Year 8:
Manchester, Manchester, Manchester
I’m not from here but I feel like
I’m at home here,
I don’t know why
but I’m just in the zone here
Mancunian, a union of trade, co-op
There’s no block that can hold
this city back
Either white, yellow, rainbow
We’re diverse together, forever Manchester.