South Shields pupil put in knockout poetry performance to honour Muhammad Ali

Pupils from Hadrian Primary and Marine Park Primary Schools taking part in a poetry slam at South Shields Museum and Art Gallery, with Geoff Woodward, Arts Councils CEO Darren Henley, and the Mayor Coun Olive Punchion and Mayoress Mary French.
Pupils from Hadrian Primary and Marine Park Primary Schools taking part in a poetry slam at South Shields Museum and Art Gallery, with Geoff Woodward, Arts Councils CEO Darren Henley, and the Mayor Coun Olive Punchion and Mayoress Mary French.

School pupils put in a knockout performance in a poetry slam inspired by Muhammad Ali

Year 6 pupils from Hadrian Primary School and Marine Park School in South Shields, battled it out at the contest held in South Shields Museum & Art Gallery to mark 40 years since the world champion boxer and civil rights activist visited the town.

They were out to impress a judging panel including Arts Council England chief executive Darren Henley.

The children, aged 10 to 11, devised their own poetry to perform on the themes of equality, justice and standing up for what you believe in, culminating in a competitive poetry slam in the museum’s exhibition gallery.

The slam was also part of the national Kids in Museums Takeover Day; a celebration of children and young people’s contributions to museums, galleries and arts.

The facilitator of the event, assistant learning officer Leslie Palanker, said: “As an American, Muhammad Ali was part of my culture growing up. I witnessed first-hand the influence he had on civil rights and watched him make important sacrifices for what he believed in.

“I am hoping that this event will inspire children to believe in themselves and to identify what is important to them enough to fight for. Using poetry as a vehicle to find their voice should be a fun, enlightening, moving and inspiring way to achieve this.”

Working with the museum’s learning team and north east comedian and wordsmith Sky Hawkins –The Word Bird – a poet and performer who has headlined events across the North East for the last 12 years - the young people took part in workshops in five different boxing rings throughout the museum to perfect their creations.

In the final round of the contest, in the main ring, they then competed against each other in the poetry slam before the judges and museum visitors.