Poetry workshops bridging cultures

September 09, 2017

Shepparton High School students from Year 10 to Year 12 took part in the poetry workshops.

A workshop intent on improving confidence and breaking down barriers between cultures visited Shepparton High School on Friday, as part of a spoken word and poetry showcase to hit town next week.

Around 15 students from the school took part in the workshop on Friday, facilitated by Melbourne writer and spoken word artist Soreti Kadir.

Initiated by Multicultural Arts Victoria, the Common Ground program creates a unique space for young people from diverse cultural and faith backgrounds to come together in spoken word and poetry as a medium for dialogue, friendship and interaction.

Multicultural Arts Victoria creative producer Anita Larkin said the program was about creating a space for young people to come together to discuss and write about issues relevant to them.

‘‘The aim is to develop their creative writing skills, but to then develop a piece for performance, and then to develop the confidence that comes with it,’’ Ms Larkin said.

‘‘Spoken word poetry is a pretty vibrant and happening scene in Melbourne and it has had a resurgence, so through this program we’re hoping to stimulate a bit of interest in this form, because there are a lot of stories to be told in this community from the first peoples, all the way to the recent arrivals.’’

The program is running in Shepparton for the first time, with a series of three public workshops, as well as a series of workshops with students at Shepparton High School.

Shepparton High School EAL co-ordinator Nej Akdere said it was traditionally difficult for those from different backgrounds to express themselves, and the space offered them a non-threatening environment to do that.

‘‘It could be the domino effect of past trauma or there are no opportunities for them to open up, but people tend to feel safer within their own identity groups, so this project actually breaks down those barriers,’’ Mr Akdere said.

‘‘It’s building an intercultural understanding, and an understanding of different perspectives, getting to sit down and have conversations about belonging, about conflict, about peace and about identity.’’

The budding young poets will transform their papered confessions into spoken word when they bring their own voices and stories to the stage on September 15.

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