World Poetry Day - A celebration of poetry for City ESOL Students

Poet Donna Ashworth performs her poetry for the workshop

This World Poetry Day, we are delighted to share the power of poetry to inspire, connect, and uplift. Early this year, in a workshop hosted at the College for ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Upper Intermediate for Work and Study students, poetry took centre stage as a medium for self-expression and exploration. Led by the enthusiastic lecturer Rosie Quin and featuring the esteemed Scottish poet Donna Ashworth, the workshop provided a nurturing environment for students to delve into the intricacies of their lived experiences as New Scots through the art of poetry.

One student, Wasan from Iraq, beautifully captured the essence of familial love and connection in her heartfelt poem: 

‘To you, who are all my life.

You are the inspiration of my life.

My son and my daughter.

You are my sunshine.

We are a beautiful shining network of love.’

(To Alan and Delya)

Her words resonated deeply with her peers and mentors, illustrating the universality of human emotions and the power of language to transcend cultural boundaries.

Donna Ashworth's presence at the workshop served as a beacon of inspiration and validation for the students. Donna warmly commented: ‘To see and hear them stand and recite their own poems was beyond joyous and I am filled with warmth and gratitude. One of those days you will not forget! Each of these amazing humans is starting a new life away from their homes and lives, showing resilience and bravery that is beyond humbling. And beautiful writing too. What a thing.’

The success of the workshop extended beyond the realm of poetry, fostering collaboration and innovation within the college community. Through a partnership between ESOL and visual communication students, led by curriculum head Amy Whiten, the students transformed the essence of ESOL poetry into captivating visual designs, enriching their learning experience and highlighting their diverse skills and talents. Associate Dean for ESOL & Communities James Davies stated: ‘This cross-college collaboration really enriches teaching and learning, for students from both curriculum areas.’

Looking ahead, the college plans to amplify the voices of these talented ESOL students by publishing their poetry digitally and physically, with the intention of sharing their unique perspectives with a wider audience. This initiative not only celebrates the creativity and resilience of the students but also underscores the importance of fostering an inclusive and supportive learning environment that champions diversity and creative expression. James further stated: ‘We are looking forward to amplifying the voices of our ESOL students later in the year, when we hope to exhibit the poetry... this was a wonderful opportunity for our ESOL students to use their language skills creatively, and to share an insight into their lives. ESOL is not just about teaching English - it is also about community, culture, and identity.’

Through the transformative power of poetry, these students are honouring their language skills but also fostering meaningful connections, bridging cultural divides, and celebrating the resilience of the human spirit. As we commemorate World Poetry Day, let us be reminded of the profound impact that poetry can have in shaping hearts, minds, and communities for the better.