To celebrate National Poetry Day, Small Green Shoots developed, facilitated and delivered a range of exciting literature projects for NEET young people from deprived areas of London, the SE and the Midlands. These artist-led projects were often hosted in local libraries to encourage long-term membership and explored this year’s National Poetry Day theme of “Freedom”.

“We take excellent artists to areas that might suffer high levels of deprivation, but clearly have high levels of untapped talent. Enabling these first-time young creators develop their language and arts skills in an intensive period, being mentored and supporting each-others work in writing and performance is challenging, rewarding and intriguing. The quality and diversity of the work they have produced speaks for itself.”

Natalie Wade, Project Director,
Small Green Shoots.

Freedom Dreams

Marie, 18, Blackbird Leyes

Freedom from this place, with its pock marked walls and balding grass,
With its dirty towers and asphalt walkways -
Which shelter the pock marked figures that cramp in corners,,
Bent over with shaking hands wearing filthy puffers dreaming of the freedom of a fix - a stop gap, a high, an exit.
Grubby faced kids with blue tongues jumping over broken paving stones,
Each one marking another broken dream of a cinema trip with dad -,
Or a hug and kiss from mum that felt like she was really there.

Mums with ratty hair, pushing stained buggies with checked pyjama bottoms on,
Shouting abuse into shoulder/cheek held phones with cracked screens.
Like their cracked dreams of freedom from grubby faced kids,
Online bingo addictions and pushy/shovey baby fathers.
To reinvent myself shiny and new, to start a new beginning in a new place
Where Freedom isn’t a dream.

Freedom
Means

Davey, 17, Marsh Farm

Friendships with whoever I want.
Regardless of race or colour or religion
Experimenting with things new to me
Enjoying myself and letting go
Developing my style and being an individual
Opening my mind to endless possibilities I might achieve
Making mistakes and knowing that it’s OK.

Personal Freedom

Paul, 16, Bow

“Freedom to hang out late, to chill with mates.
To play Xbox for long and not feel bait.
To go where I wanna go and to link who I wanna link - without;
“checking back”, “Calling in”, “passing it by…”
Long.
Mums voice aggy-ing me up “you didn’t call, you didn’t pick up, it went to voicemail, what time do you call this? I’m not a bleeding hotel, you know?”
“I just want my Freedom, my Freedom to be, Freedom to do what I want, Freedom from you!”

“Freedom to go and get yourself arrested.” she says; “Freedom to get yourself in trouble, to get yourself killed”
I storm out, she slams the dishes, doors slam, feet stomp until quiet. “Dinners ready!”
Dinners not time to talk about Freedom
But to compromise quietly to some unhappy medium.

Words
Are Free

Mo, 18, Somers Town

Frankly Remembering Everything Especially Dramatically Open Moments
Framing Remarkably Engaging Expeditions Drifting Over Melancholy
Fresh Remedies Echoing Ever Different Ordered Meanders

Freedom
Fighter

Mo, 18, Somers Town

People wrote speeches for about freedom and justice and rights and equality.
They used big words to create images of freedom in the minds of the masses.
They fought in muddy trenches and burned on crosses and walked continents for freedom.
They suffered in cells, starved in streets, sacrificed security
All so I can sit on the bus on my way home from my management job to someone I love.

People wrote speeches for about freedom and justice and rights and equality.
They used big words to create images of freedom in the minds of the masses.
They fought in muddy trenches and burned on crosses and walked continents for freedom.
They suffered in cells, starved in streets, sacrificed security
All so I can sit on the bus on my way home from my management job to someone I love.

Freedom
For Granted

Cassie, 18, St Matthews

People wrote speeches for about freedom and justice and rights and equality.
They used big words to create images of freedom in the minds of the masses.
They fought in muddy trenches and burned on crosses and walked continents for freedom.
They suffered in cells, starved in streets, sacrificed security
All so I can sit on the bus on my way home from my management job to someone I love.

I WEEP FOR
MY PEOPLE
(EXCERPT)

MP YAMFAM, Artist

But how do we make a stand with a history
Of being used as lab rats in Tuskegee
When black wall street was destroyed
We wanted to better our lives finally
I weep for my people
Why can we not proclaim black lives matter
Without the opposition claiming all lives matter
If all lives matter we would not have
The need to say black lives matter
It feels like in reality the words
Are just are missing from that sentence
Black lives are just matter
And since we are just matter what do we matter
Our bodies are solid they showed us how close our liquids
Our memories become gas in words or worse
Just another hashtag and verse
I weep for my people

Freedom of Speech

SkeemZ, Artist

Since freedom of speech has been deemed as a breach of the peace,
There’s more hate & less peace on the streets.
We’ve seen riots rising, our people deceased
no teaching from teachers, no preachers can preach.
While these turbulent times strive to change like the turn of a tide,
a cut-throat business operates on words from the wise.
So, you can cut my opinions through slits with a surgical knife.
It’s a merry go round in a circle of life.
So, Per-mission to speak is her mission
It’s third world living in a first world vision.
The name: Charlotte, domain: Charlottesville. Stripped of her ID is she Charlotte still?
To speak from her mind that is Charlottes will? sat at war, a raconteur that was Charlotte’s skill.
So, does less choice make me choice-less? An oppressed voice make me voice-less?

Since this law was imposed to keep our mouths closed, all you’ve done is suppress our emotions
And that’s a bad sign when a man’s mind stretches the depths of an ocean.
See we can visibly disagree, but respect is a notion.
This is one place containing one race we’re not sexual opponents.
I never thought that deaths irrelevant without requesting evidence.
We used to link in parks where we could rest in peace for the week feeling blessed by Chester Bennington.
So, I’m standing here for pride & honour, standing against the divide & conquer -
While you live in sweet scenes you diminish our dreams via violent conduct.
So, while we’re individges that building bridges, you fire & construct
So, you can call me or ignore me,
I’m a voice for the voiceless among silent content.

UNTITLED

Sinead, 19, Tottenham

The floor was cold and hard. His knees pulled in to his chest as he sat to create a bit of warmth
Warmth in this cold and hard place. This place with 4 cold and hard walls.
The smell of disinfectant, urine and stale smoke hovered like the ghost of guests passed.
Passed over, passed out, passed caring in this cold and hard place.
Only straight lines and grey, the etching of names and cuss-words on walls, grey on grey.
The flickering strip light above shows the greyness of his skin.
The isolation leaving his mind a cold and hard place.

Small Green Shoots is a youth led arts charity that promotes arts and music engagement to disadvantaged young people. We specialise in developing artist-led activities that develop creative & transferrable skills and encourage a life-long passion for watching, participating in and creating art.

Thanks to Focus for Life, CDI Blackbird Leyes, Tara Munroe, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, Camden Library services, Rebecca from the Leicester City Council Cultural Ambition Fund, Gemma Seltzer, Sophie Lancaster and Paul Bonham from Arts Council England, Marcus Data, WISDM, Performing Rights Society Foundation For Music, Gingerbread, The Crick Living Centre, The Barefaced Movement and all the very talented “Shoots” that lead us to these interesting places.

www.smallgreenshoots

Photos by Michel Barry
Website designed and built by The Barefaced Movement