In an effort to attract more young people to the museum, this project ("Mix Your Words") brought 12 classes from 9 different local schools to attend workshops with Moquapi Selassi, a Brimingham-based Dub poet. Each workshop lasted for an hour and a half and involved participants telling tongue-twisters, saying the Ethiopian alphabet, singing, writing poetry and hearing Moquapi perform his own poetry. All workshops generated much noise, laughter and some impressive poetry. Through "Mix Your Words" the museum and library service made valuable links with the youth sector and with local teachers. For many workshop paticipants it was their first visit to the museum or library and it would seem likely that having had a positive experience at the venue might encourage a future re-visit. In total the project involved over 414 young people aged between 10 and 18, and 27 adults, including youth workers and Heads of English.
The whole idea of the Poetry Place was to get children and teenagers into the Museum and Libraries and to get them to do some poetry. Helen Mears, who was the Museum's Outreach Worker at the time emphasized that she wanted it to be fun. (Oh yes, I agreed it would be fun, all right).
I decided that the workshops would not be centred around my poetry, or dub poetry for that matter. No, as I said at each and every workshop I took, the workshop wasn't about my poetry, or about me, but that it was about the children/participants and what they could actually produce.
So that the workshop would be centred around the participants I had requested that everyone bring 3 things to the workshop. These were, an item of their choice, a song and a word. The workshops were done to a set format with the main emphasis on having fun and producing a rhyme/poem.
Overall I did 22 workshops with about 450 to 500 participants. I also did photo-shoots which were published in the local Nuneaton and Bedworth evening newspapers.
For me, this Poetry Place was a wonderful experience as it was the first time that I had done workshops and from the very first one I loved it. Also, from the feedback that I received the children and teachers loved it too. It was a joy to see children and teenagers enjoying creating "poetry."
- Moqapi Selassie.