Poetry empowers students, boosts English marks in Western Sydney
Source: Bankstown Poetry Slam

Poetry is taking off in many schools across Australia’s largest city.

With a bit of encouragement from members of Bankstown Poetry Slam – a non-profit which provides a platform for the diverse community of Western Sydney to share their literary art – students are learning to write and perform their own work.

Bankstown Poetry Slam was founded by Western Sydney University students Ahmad Al Rady and Sara Mansour back in 2013, which has become the largest poetry slam event in Australia.

In a bid to encourage young people to be creative, express themselves and improve literary skills, Bankstown Poetry Slam has hosted Real Talk workshops in schools across Western Sydney, a region where many students are from socioeconomically disadvantaged and culturally diverse backgrounds.

“For boys specifically, there’s this notion that we’re not, kind of, allowed to express ourselves,” said Bilal Hafda, one of the poets who has been running the workshops, as quoted by ABC News.

“What poetry does is it gives young people the permission to say ‘I feel things, I have opinions about things, and there’s ways that I can present it so that I’m taking control of the story that gets told about me’.”

Slam poetry has reportedly boosted interest in Shakespeare at Canterbury Boys High School.

“Our school is excelling in the area of literacy achievement,” said principal Belinda Giudice. She said that the English faculty was the best performing across the school in the Higher School Certificate – the final school year exams.

“We have above average growth [in test scores] across many areas of literacy such as reading, spelling and grammar, and punctuation.”

English teacher Amy Hughes from The Hills Grammar School told The Daily Telegraph that Real Talk workshops leave her students “empowered and exhilarated”, noting that “for a teacher, that is priceless.”

One Hills Grammar student who participated in the programme, Daniel Shi, was even selected to perform his poetry at the prestigious Sydney Writers Festival. Shi said that while talking in front of a large audience is “always a nerve-racking experience” but he “loved it.”

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