Tavistock Poetry Festival : “From the Tamar to the Tavy a flow of words from children.”

A recent Tavistock poetry festival saw 11 local schools and the community draw together to write and celebrate poetry and was a resounding success.

Poets: Roselle Angwin, Vanessa Kisuule, Bob Liu- Devreux, Phil Bowen and Celia Warren worked in schools with children from 4 to 18. Much of the writing was centred on the theme of “our local area” and the photographs of local photographers, including Gary King from Tavistock College, were instrumental is sparking inspiration.

Vanessa Kisuule, from a group known as “Slambassadors”, worked with older students at the College and her trusting, sensitive way of working allowed students to explore their feelings and compare how others perceive them to their own sense of self. These students were encouraged to perform their poetry and willingly share their thoughts. A beautiful example of the poetry which came from these sessions was written by Emily Handel, age 12 from Tavistock College:

People assume that if you don’t speak up,
You have nothing to say.
Because your voice isn’t the loudest,
Your thoughts aren’t the strongest.
But we live in a world where we all speak at once
And when everyone’s shouting
You can’t hear what’s said.
Maybe, just maybe,
People are quiet because they’re biding their time,
Waiting for a break in the endless roar.
So when they do speak they’re quiet but everyone hears.
They may not be shouting,
But the meaning is clear.

The Poetry Slam which was held at the end of the week saw a team from each school perform an original piece of poetry. The trophy for first place was won by Tavistock Community Primary School with their poem about the area in which we live. It was delivered with much animation and movement :

The Tavy to the Tamar

Francis Drake cries, ‘Spanish Armada!’
Dartmoor Prison says, ‘Let me out!’
The market shouts, ‘Oranges for sale!’
Buckland Abbey says ‘Hey, have a walkabout!’
The White Lady murmurs, ‘I’m drowning!’
The Cauldron cries deep and dark.
‘Step on me,’ says the viaduct.
The meadows beckons ‘Come to my park!’
The Gem Bridge says ‘Walk across!’
Crebers says, ‘Smell my coffee!’
The Town Hall sings, ‘Come and see a play!’
I Love Candy says, ‘Have some toffee!’
The class says, ‘Good Morning!’
The teacher says, ‘Good Night!’
‘Come and stay,’ says The Bedford
And Goose fair says, “See the lights!”
Tamar bridge says “Welcome to Cornwall!”
Morwellham Quay says “Come and join the past!”
The Plymouth Hoe says “Sail across me!”
The sea says “You’re free at last!”

The Key Stage 3 competition was won by Emily Frost and Katie Gray.

The Saturday saw a splendid and vibrant event in the Town hall with every school performing their work and displays of poetry and photographs. Tors, rivers, scrolls and postcards from Tavistock were beautifully displayed and conveyed in poetry. The school winning the “Build a Poem” competition, judged by a public vote, was St Peters Primary School and the beautiful photograph of Cox Tor at sunset, taken by Gary King and displayed in the Town Library all week, was won by Samuel Beard.


Sky that’s red and fire that burns,
Sunlight cascading over bracken and ferns

Moorland turned crimson with dying light,
Tors growing dark with the coming of night

A moment of beauty,
Seen from a hilltop

Fields flowing and rolling,
Ploughed with farmers’ new crop

Trees framed with sunlight,
Skeletal and thin

Darkness encroaching,
Night time creeps in

This landscape that’s lit,
By sunlight infernal

Shall remain untouched,
Forever eternal

By Samuel William McGoldrick Beard

All the participating schools are keen to hold another Festival next year and again invite the community to get involved and be creative!