VIDEO: Power of poetry proving a slam dunk



At first glance, the writing on the windows of a hallway at Dapto High School looked like a vandal’s handiwork.

But on closer inspection of the considered, and often moving, lines of poetry, it was clear something more was behind it.

About 20 students had scrawled their heartfelt words on the panes as part of a guerilla poetry workshop with NSW Poetry Slam Champion Zohab Zee Khan, organised by poem-promoting organisation The Red Room Company.

Guided by Khan and his high-impact poetry performances, students used their own experiences, from memories of loss to a hunger for chicken, to write and then perform their poems.

It was clear the class found Khan’s words powerful, with one student raising her hand after his demonstration to simply thank him for being so inspiring.

He became interested in slam poetry a decade ago, as an interest in hip hop morphed into a love of poems.

‘‘I believe there’s always been a bit of rhythm inside me, there’s always been something that’s told me this is what I want to do,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m very passionate about human rights, about being a minority growing up in rural Australia.

‘‘I always had a different perspective on things, so I believe I have a responsibility to share it, not just me, but everyone has a responsibility to express their different perspectives.

‘‘That’s how we grow as people.’’

NSW Poetry Slam Champion Zohab Zee Khan. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

NSW Poetry Slam Champion Zohab Zee Khan. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

For aspiring writer Emilee Wells, 15, the workshop gave her a push to start writing poetry again, something she has enjoyed since listening to her great-grandmother read aloud from Banjo Paterson’s epics.

‘‘I’ve talked to people in this class before, but didn’t really know their story. Now I’ve heard their poetry, they’re deeper than I thought,’’ she said.

‘‘Sometimes it’s easier to express stuff like that through poetry.’’

Dapto High has been working with The Red Room Company to foster a passion for poetry in the school since last year as part of a wider push to nurture creativity in students and staff.

‘‘I don’t think we have an agenda more important to the school community than nurturing a creative Dapto,’’ said deputy principal Darcy Moore.

Students’ poems will be published alongside a piece by Khan  as part of The Red Room Company’s Toilet Doors education resource.

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