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Student With Voices – Poetry Showcase

Over 70 students attended our Student With Voices poetry performance event in late March, the culmination of a four-week poetry writing competition. 130 students from Foundation Learning, Art and Design and Health and Social Care entered poems, which were judged by published poets Kavita Hansla and Alex Murdock. Using five criteria Kavita and Alex narrowed the field to thirty-five frontrunners whose poems will appear in a limited edition poetry anthology, funded by iQQTV. Five poets received Amazon vouchers as prizes for the quality of their work, plus a signed copy of ‘Into the Abyss’, a collection of poetry by Alex Murdock. The overall winner was Ellie Mauger, who won £50, and four other poets were awarded £20 each.

The title ‘Student With Voices’ encapsulates the essence of the event, acknowledging that each student possesses a multitude of avenues for expression beyond mere spoken word or poetry. It encompasses their diverse talents and passions, from music, dance, and visual arts to areas such as hairdressing, makeup, and software design. Moreover, it recognises the various platforms through which students can make their voices heard, whether through charitable endeavours, civic engagement, or participation in college activities like Enrichment, tutorials, student representation, or clubs and societies. In essence, ‘Student With Voices’ celebrates the richness and depth of every student’s ability to express themselves across various mediums and spheres of engagement.

Introduction to IT, Art and Media Entry Level 3 student, Ellie Mauger was asked what she thought about having her poem selected as the best out of 130 entries: “There is only one thing I can honestly say, I’m absolutely over the moon and that I would love to do it again.”

Ellie described her poem, titled ‘Disparity’, as being about how she struggles emotionally to open up to people. Ellie’s poem was presented on an image of a bottle to illustrate how she contains her feelings. Ellie said: “My artwork and writing really help me to relieve the heavy weight I have on my chest, and stops me from bottling everything up.”

Troy Johnson, a Supported Intern on the Hammersmith Supported Internship programme read his poem, ‘A Huge Sigh of Relief’.

Troy said: “Taking part in this event has taught me to look inward into my emotions to that specific time I was writing the poem about. It has also taught me to express myself through a written format, and I’ve learned skills in different language techniques, such as using metaphors and similes.”

The two-hour Student With Voices event was divided into sets with seven student poets in each, who came to the mic to read their poems.

Disun Majekodunmi, who was the project leader for Student With Voices and is also a performance poet too, known as Dee Majek, said: “It was wonderful to celebrate student expression. It was exciting to see and hear the remarkable talent and expressive gifts within our college community. The event truly embodied the ethos of amplifying student voices, allowing their passions and perspectives to shine brilliantly.”

This poem by Disun is the underpinning ethos of ‘Student With Voices’:

Every Learner has a voice
Every Learner needs to be heard
Every Learner has a gift of expression
Whether oral, written or printed in words

The five literary categories Alex and Kavita selected the poems on were:

  • Word Imagery
  • Word Play
  • Depth of Expression
  • Originality
  • Resonance of Message
Kavita Hansla
Alex Murdock
Troy Johnson

Kavita Hansla is a London-based spoken word artist, poet and storyteller, who merges her scientific background with her love for language and wordplay. Kavita’s name means “poetry” in Hindi. Both Alex and Kavita performed their work at the Students With Voices showcase event.

Reflecting on her roles as both a judge and performer at the event, Kavita shared: “The event aimed to empower students to recognise the value of their voices. And as each student took to the stage to recite their poems, we all got to witness true magic unfold. The confidence and spirit they displayed to perform in front of such a large crowd made the experience unforgettable. And the pinnacle was hearing the student’s excitement to keep sharing their voices beyond the event. For me, that is the truest measure of success!”

Jamaican-born and raised in East London, Alex Murdock began writing poetry as an adult and started performing on stage in 2022.

Alex, who also performed his work at the event, described feeling privileged to be one of the judges, he said: “It was eye-opening” and “their profound work, it shows a level of expression that I was grateful to have the chance to witness. I think our experiences are the cornerstone of what we express, and every student has something to say, and worth hearing. I took pride in being a facilitator of them having their voices being heard.”

150 copies of the limited edition poetry anthology will be printed for each of the 130 students who entered the competition with some additional copies for college staff and the competition judges Alex and Kavita.

Students With Voices was the first of its kind at iQQTV and due to its overwhelming success, we will hold another event in October to celebrate Black History Month 2024.

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