National Poet Laureate Brings Poetry to Life for Dozens of Worcester Pupils

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Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, entertained over 250 children at Huntingdon Hall as part of the University of Worcester’s annual Beeline Storytelling Festival for Children.

Primary school pupils from Worcester and Herefordshire enjoyed an inspirational performance of Princess’ Blankets by Britain’s first female poet laureate, along with multi-talented musician, John Sampson.

Carol Ann Duffy said: “I love fairy tales and I believe that storytelling is particularly important for children, especially through the use of poetry. It is fantastic to come here as part of the Beeline Storytelling Festival for Children, and perform in front of the fantastic pupils in the area.”

Following the show, Alison Paton, from Cradley CE Primary School, said: “It’s a privilege to hear and see the Poet Laureate bring her poetry to life. The students certainly haven’t had an experience like this one before. Her writing is fantastic and Carol Ann Duffy is a real inspiration for our pupils. Teachers and students alike, we all loved the story. Thank you for the great event, we are looking forward to the other events as part of the Beeline festival this year."

Now in its ninth year, the Beeline Storytelling Festival has become one of the largest children’s events in the West Midlands. Each year, the festival works with, over 3,000 children from schools across the region who get the opportunity to work with some of the UK’s finest authors, illustrators, storytellers, puppeteers, including Michael Rosen and Jacqueline Wilson.

Steve Boffy, organiser of the Beeline Festival, said: “We are delighted to work with Carol Ann Duffy, she is such a distinguished poet and many of the schools tell us that they use her work as part of the curriculum. It’s also fantastic to see more poetry in the festival, since it is something that children enjoy hearing, reading and writing.”

Carol Ann Duffy also performed later that evening at a separate festival event to a sell-out audience at The Hive, Worcester’s joint university and public library, history and customer centre.

Dr Jill Terry, Head of English, Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Worcester said: “The Poet Laureate treated a riveted audience to readings from her manuscript of Laureate poems ahead of their publication. These included a very moving poem on the Hillsborough disaster, and the poem ‘Birmingham for Tariq Jahan’.

“There was a wonderfully intimate atmosphere in The Studio at The Hive and Carol Ann Duffy seemed in a reflective mood as she traced autobiographical links throughout her readings, which she noted did not usually have a public airing but were chosen to match the sympathetic mood of the evening. A love poem for her partner, a poem which treated the death of her father, and one, appropriately, from The Bees on her mother’s death, moved some in the audience to tears.”

“Carol Ann Duffy was accompanied by John Sampson on a range of wind instruments, he was, she noted, ‘her gift from the Queen’. The audience felt privileged to be part of this very special occasion, which was the third in a series of poetry events organised by the University of Worcester English department in partnership with Ledbury Poetry Festival.”