Poetry day with Mike Garry
Mancunian people’s poet Mike Garry gave Blackpool Sixth students a language masterclass as part of the college’s enrichment programme. Earlier in the day he worked with school students on poetry and self-expression. The visit was part of the college’s celebrations for National Poetry Day.
Mr Garry, who has collaborated with Manchester band New Order and wider media such as Match of the Day, urged students to consider language and poetry as their passport to exciting and diverse experiences in life.
He told his audience how growing up in Manchester, he absorbed all the experiences of the city and used these to write about life. He read out extracts from some of his best known poems and new material from his new collection “Men’s Mournings”, including a moving poem about missing his son, now living in New Zealand.
Students were encouraged to use language as a tool of expression and a way to do that was to read: “When you read, you are interesting and interested,” he said.
Mr Garry took the students on a linguistic tour of the origins of language, and encouraged them to grasp this amazing time as they were on the cusp of adulthood and all the experiences that brings. He spoke of the way poetry had engaged him in history, bringing the past to life.
Memories of a teacher from primary school who gave him the gift of words was recalled from the poem Signify. He told the students about how Miss McCoombe had used stories to travel beyond the classroom to other worlds.
Sixth form student Chloe Richardson said: “The talk gave me an insight into poetry from the point of view of the person writing the poetry. It added another dimension to what we learn about poetry in the classroom.”
Fellow student Becky Holbach added: “I found it very interesting how Mike talked about the impact of his writing on himself and on others.”
Earlier in the day, Mr Garry held a workshop with pupils from three local high schools, Hodgson Academy, Unity Academy and Aspire Academy. In the workshop with the school students, Mike performed several of his poems and talked about his own experiences growing up on a council estate in central Manchester and how he has been writing poetry since the age of eight. Mike’s dynamic style of presentation and his humorous stories and comments helped bring the world of poetry to life for the students.
Mr Garry said: “Language was my escape.” He welcomed the advance of technology to aid reading, “These have brought us together and helped us do more together.”