Rowan McCabe: the world’s first Door-to-Door Poet

Rowan McCabe first brought his unique brand of clever wordsmithing, Geordie charm and door-to-door poetry to the BSN during TEDxYouth@BSN last November. He spoke on fighting hate with poetry – using it to ask questions, get to know other people and share in their personal stories and struggles. Earlier this month, Rowan returned to the BSN to work with Junior School students and inspire them to use their own poetry as a tool for getting to know one another and sharing their points of view.

His goal at JSL was to enlist a group of door-to-door poet apprentices, challenging students to knock on classroom doors, start conversations with students they didn’t know, and try to learn more about them. These poems, written by Year 4 students, give us a glimpse into what is important to them.

Granny, Granny you’re kind to me,
You defend me when Mum is cross.
Granny your hair is as black as the dark
And your skin colour is like a peach.
Granny, Granny you live in Italy
I like coming to your house on the holidays,
Granny you’re fun to play with hide and seek.
Granny you pet your cat Fumeta
Granny, Granny you love Fumeta and me
Granny, Granny I miss you.

By Joy

Friends are important to me,
They can be sad and happy.
You can play the whole day
Or go on a holiday.

You can eat a yummy scoop of soup
And play crazy video games.
So with friends you won’t get bored,
And you won’t get lonely.

You can play with your fatty cat and friends,
I show my friends respect
And they give me thousands of respect,
If you give a smile, you will get it back.

By Aryan

Students at JSL work on their poems

“This is my first day at your school, can you tell me what it’s like to be here?”

This is the challenge Rowan posed to students at JSV. Children from Year 1 to Year 6 contributed their personal insight to answer this question, and in doing so painted a multifaceted picture of life at JSV through the eyes of its students.

Rowan’s goal was to create a poem to capture the essence of JSV in a way that resonated with everyone. The finished poem is made up entirely of lines submitted by students – it is made from the memories and experiences students have had at JSV.

It’s playing tag on the ship in the yard.
It’s climbing the monkey bars for 5 swings.
It’s lying on the grass and pretending to be spies.
It’s learning lots of languages to make new friends.

It’s decimals in maths.
It’s a story about riding a dinosaur.
It’s your best friend making a chicken noise.
It’s seeing snow for the first time.

It’s your favourite teacher wearing really cool shoes.
It’s getting a book from the library.
It’s doing a science project on why the sky is blue,
which is because the sea is blue
(I think, or maybe because the sky is blue…)

It’s pyjama day.
It’s playing cello in the music room.
It’s helping someone to stand up.
It’s not caring what gender we are.

It’s becoming an accidental trick shot master,
kicking a football into a basketball hoop from 10 metres away.
It’s the nurse putting a plaster on my knee.
It’s singing 80’s pop music in assembly.

It’s cheering people up when they’re on their own.
It’s OK to be different.
It’s an animation of an exploding sun.
It’s a colourful picture on a giant sheet of paper.

Students at JSV in a workshop with Rowan

Rowan finished up the week at JSD, where he held a War, Peace and Changing the World Poetry Workshop, working with two Year 6 groups writing about the wars we wage in our personal life and finding out about the moments we feel most at peace. He also worked with two Year 4 groups, looking at and appreciating the unsung heroes all around us.

“It was really touching to see how involved all the groups got in the writing, and to have a chance to point out to them what amazing writers they are. I hope it’s the start of a long a rewarding life of poetry for them all.” – Rowan on BSN Junior School students

You can find photos from the week on Flickr here.

Watch Rowan’s talk Fighting Hate with Poetry at TEDxYouth@BSN here.



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