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Regular news and insight from our many poets, writers, educators and facilitators

16 October 2021

Posted by Beth McKeeman

Discover Sophia Thakur

Junior Writers Number - 9
Young Writers Number - 11

Grown-up words can be scary, words like ‘portfolio’ and ‘paperwork’ but when they’re contributing towards the Discover Badge as part of the Arts Award they’re actually really fun.

Our Junior Writers are attempting to achieve this badge this term. This week we started by listing all the different kinds of art there are. Painting and drawing might be what you first think of when told to list forms of art but there’s so much; singing, dancing, fashion design, cake decoration, jewellery making, knitting, embroidery… Can you list any more?

Of course, the one that most relevant to us is writing. Within that there’s poetry, prose, screen plays, theatre, and with this award we get the chance to explore it and show off our talent for it.

Art can also intersect. A short while ago Tongue Fu performed at MAST, a hybrid of poetry and improvised music, and if you go back in our blog you’ll find the time John Hansard’s Writer in Residence paid us a visit to get us to write from paintings.

Continuing with the theme of selfies, and with this intersectionality of art, we looked at a variety of self-portraits. Picasso split opinions over whether or not we liked his angular and muted portrait, whereas the wild jungle and bold colours of Frida Kahlo’s piece captured our imaginations, the realism mixed in with the abstract created a statement. Woah’s were pulled from the room as we moved on to Rembrandt, the picture like quality making it hard to remember that cameras weren’t available to him. Amrita Sher-Gil, like Rembrandt, didn’t look head on to the viewer, however played with light differently, blending colours and looking like you could almost feel her clothes. Lois Mailou Jones drew oohs from around the room for her realism with a hint of pastel and sketch and the inclusion of elements of her heritage lurking in the background. By far the most visceral reaction, however, goes to Yinka Shonibare. Cries of ‘what’s he?’ and ‘That’s weird!’ rang out as the computer overplayed photograph was displayed. As Susmita reminded everyone, though, art is meant to cause a reaction, and that doesn’t have to be pleasant.

Then, in the style of Picasso or another artist who we admired, we filled out the first page of our portfolio.

In the Young Writers group, we each received a copy of Sophia Thakur’s book ‘Somebody Give This Heart A Pen’.

Sophia is naturally a performance poet so we took the time to discuss the difference between reading her poem Girl, You better Sing. When performed Amelia W said it was like music and the backing music also enhanced it, and Katie H said the breaks were clearer as was her intention, everything was more poignant according to Amelia N.


Based on another poem, Give This Heart A Pen, we wrote a two part poem for the inspiring women we found last week. The first part would be from the perspective of the inspiring woman, the second from our own. They all wonderfully bleed together.


After a discussion on what goes into chocolate chip cookies and whether or not some poems need to be grown in to, we concluded by writing another poem inspired by Sophia Thakur, instructions on when to write.

This week has shown in both groups what thoughtful and insightful minds we have and if I could include everything that got said we would be here for a good while yet, so I’ll let the work do the talking.

Somebody Give This Heart A Plane (for Amelia Earhart after Sophia Thakur) by Amelia N

Somebody Give This Heart... (for Harriet Tubman, after Sophia Thakur) by Rahmat

Somebody Give This Heart The Truth (after Sophia Thakur) by Shani

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