– Adriann Svenson | Grade 11, 2019
Athlone Young Poets is an after-school youth poetry programme, with Grade 10–12 learners at Belgravia High School in Athlone, Cape Town. The young poets learn to read and write poetry, as a way to explore identity, belonging and their family and community histories. The first programme ran in 2018 and 2019, with 11 poets.
The project is entirely possible because of how welcoming and supportive Belgravia High is. The princial Mr Base, as well as the English teacher Tertia Shah and our 12th poet, Regan Ford. Regan has been an integral part of the programme, and so much of what has been possible is because of his support, interest, encouragement and active involvement.
In 2018, the group was part of an international poetry exchange with Sydney Russell School in London, through the Barbican arts centre. In herstories in verse poets researched women in their local communities and families who they felt made a significant historical impact to their community. They wrote these women's stories in poems, which were published in a pamphlet anthology. Ammaarah Kahaar and Taylor Brandt went to London for
the launch of the anthology. They met the London poets, and took part ina group performance at the launch.
Western Cape MEC for Arts and Culture Visits
In August, the MEC for Arts and Culture, Anroux Marais, visited our Wednesday writing workshop. She and her team joined us in reading and discussing poems and then doing some writing with us. We want to thank Regan Ford and Stacy McLean for organising this visit.
Open Book Festival
The poets first public performance, was at Cape Town's biggest book festival. They featured at Poetica, at Open Book Festival in September. They performed individual poems and group poems to a full-house at the A4 Arts Centre.
I was born and raised in Athlone, as were my parents before me. This is a community and geographical area filled with a rich, complex, and long history. None of us are taught this history at school, and very little of our family stories are passed down to us. As we walk and grow up in our streets, very little in the built environment, reflects or affirms who we are, who the people are that we come from, or, the stories that took place here before we were born. By finding and writing these stories, I believe the young poets will develop a sense of pride, agency & belonging. The ultimate aim is this: that our bloodlines and roots might show us who we are, so we can decide for ourselves who we want to be.
– Toni Giselle Stuart