We Are Lewisham… and we know the power of our words!

Lewisham has a strong connection to poetry, from the Goldsmith’s-educated dub poet and activist Linton Kwesi Johnson, to Lewisham’s Mercury Prize nominated Kae Tempest, powerful lyrics run through our veins. This is why we’ve picked poetry as the theme for October’s Creative Challenge.

Write a poem of protest or praise about the environment

Thursday 6 October is National Poetry Day and its theme this year is ‘The Environment’. To link to this, we’re challenging all Lewisham residents to tap into their lyrical side and write a poem of protest or praise about the environment, nature or the climate emergency.

Let your thoughts and ideas run free and see what you can create. If you feel stuck, you could always take inspiration from other poets. Examples of poems as protest include ‘Decimation’ by Louisa Reid and ‘February’ by the Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho. Or how about poems praising nature, like ‘Sun Kenning’ by James Carter? You could also get inspired by pupils from local school Dalmain Primary School, who have already written their poems of protest and praise.

We don’t want you to write your poems on any old piece of paper, though…

Plant your poem!

We want you to write them on seed paper! From the week of 10 October, Lewisham libraries throughout the borough will stock special paper embedded with wildflower seeds, so all you need to do is pick up a sheet (they’re free), write your poem on it and then – plant your poem and see your words bloom!

Before you plant it – by your windowsill (or you could save it and plant it in springtime) take a photo and share it with us tagging #WALCreativeChallenge @WeAreLewisham

To grow your poem, follow these steps:

1. Soak the paper in water for a few mins
2. Place in a seed tray (or other flat container) and cover with a thin layer of compost
3. Place in a sunny place with plenty of light and warmth (a windowsill is ideal)
4. Keep the compost moist by lightly watering/misting daily
5. Watch for seedlings sprouting in over the coming weeks. Seeds can begin to grow as early as 6 days.
6. Show us your poems as they grow using #WALCreativeChallenge @WeAreLewisham.

Poetry workshops

If you are stuck for poetry inspiration you might like to join one of our special poetry writing workshops, taking place in libraries across the borough from 22 – 30 October, in partnership with Apples and Snakes. The workshops will be run by a host of talented eco-‘word’-warriors, such as superstar storyteller Jan Blake, playful poets Adam Kammerling and Adam Mole and rebellious rapper, Kenny Baraka.

Our work with National Poetry Day and Dalmain Primary School

In partnership with National Poetry Day, poet Francesca Beard has been working with pupils at Dalmain Primary School, to guide them in writing their own poems of protest and praise about the environment, nature and climate change. Their poems are a powerful message about how important our environment is and, to make sure this message is heard loud and clear, their poems will be put up on billboards across the borough. Keep your eyes peeled for them at the end of October.

Do you work at a school? Your school can get involved too

This October we’re working with National Poetry Day to challenge your pupils to read, write and share a poem of protest or praise about the environment. We know children and young people have a lot to say about climate change, clean air and the natural world, and we’ll be celebrating their poems on our website, social channels and an anthology. Find out more.