All About Sara Hirsch
Sara Hirsch is a London grown poet with punch. Sara is a former UK Slam Champion, was ranked third in the World Slam Championships in 2014 and now runs London’s only regular 3 round slam. She has performed at Glastonbury, has toured extensively, both in the UK and internationally and has performed live on the BBC. Sara was recently crowned the winner of the European Poetry Slam in Madrid, has written poems for the Roald Dahl Museum and the Museum of London and is currently working on her third full length poetry collection.
Sara write poems about everything, exploring themes of place, memory, identity, love, loss, fear and balloon animals through wit, warmth and wordplay. Poetry is Sara’s way of challenging the world around her and understanding her place within it and her performances are bold and accessible.
“Impossible not to be dazzled” The Scotsman
“Real, raw & authentic” TV Bomb
“Annoyingly good” Harry Baker
Sara is currently completing her Master’s in Creative Writing and Education at Goldsmiths University and is one of a handful of trained spoken word educators working in the UK.
To watch Sara perform one of her poems, visit her website and watch the video on the home page, filmed by the BBC: http://www.sarahirsch.co.uk/
About Sara’s workshops:
Sara has led countless workshops in primary and secondary schools across the country and abroad, for tertiary level students at The University of London and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and for adults in many settings, including for teachers at the Critical Connections Conference, elderly residents at the Katherine Lowe Settlement and international slammers in Madrid.
She is the lead tutor on the annual Poetry in Performance course at the National Youth Drama School of New Zealand, runs a yearly inter school slam season in North London and has led sessions for Ledbury Poetry Festival, The Salisbury Playhouse and The Wandsworth Fringe.
As well as being an experienced workshop facilitator Sara held a two-year placement as poet in residence at Lammas School & Sixth Form in East London. During her time in this challenging and diverse institution Sara developed a plethora of lesson plans for Key Stage 3 and 4 (as well as adapting them for visits to local primary schools) which complement the curriculum & encourage creativity, confidence and communication. With high numbers of EAL students and students with a statement of SEN, Sara has become incredibly well versed in adapting her work for different needs and requirements and creating new ways to approach language in the classroom. She has taught GCSE level unseen poetry, has developed literacy skills across the school and has nurtured a campus wide culture of spoken word, making poetry ‘cool’ again.
Sara’s workshops are engaging, dynamic and inspiring and often get kids excited about poetry for the first time since nursery rhymes.
What a workshop might look like:
There is no such thing as a ‘typical workshop’ as Sara’s sessions vary depending on the group but they are always playful, creative and imagination based and get children writing about themselves, each other and the world around them. Through games and exercises children can discover their inner poet, the one hiding just below the surface, and give them a chance to speak, whisper or shout at the top of their voice.
Sara will often start the day with an assembly which is lively, interactive and full of rhymes, words and introductions. Workshops can culminate in a poetry slam, a showcase or simply a beautiful hand written poem for the door of the fridge and can respond to a particular theme, event or idea, such as her most popular workshops: making metaphors, poetry in performance or what is a slam poet?
Every workshop gets the kids on their feet ‘doing’ and caters for every child in the room and often, the teachers join in too.
Sara’s school visits have resulted in outrageous slam competitions, public performances, award winning poetry, published poems and spoken word films screened at the BFI.
Reviews and Recommendations:
“An inspirational workshop!
The work in the classroom was quick paced, continually hooking in and ensuring maximum engagement from all pupils– a stunning success.”
Tony Litting, Teacher at St Paul’s Primary School, Cambridge
“Sara was one of the best tutors I ever had the honour to be taught by. Her passion and infectious enthusiasm, combined with her extensive knowledge meant that the entire week I had her as a tutor was absolutely incredible.”
Student, National Youth Drama School of New Zealand.
“Because of Sara’s positive attitude and her extensive skills in both performance poetry and teaching, the work the students produced at the end of the week was astonishing. She also proved herself adaptable, working with a number of groups throughout the week which included a variety of ages, experience and skill levels.
The school as a whole also benefited from Sara’s attendance at NYDS as she performed twice during the week. The second night of the school saw Sara involved in a Poetry Slam with other professional poets, and it is really no exaggeration when I say it opened up a whole new world for the majority of students at the school, giving them an appreciation for poetry many school teachers would envy.”
Clair Keys, Artistic Director of the National Youth Drama School of New Zealand
In ‘Still Falling’, Sara Hirsch celebrates people, positivity and the power of perspective. Through wit, rhyme and unadulterated honesty, Sara plummets through the friendships, relationships and encounters that have shaped her perception of her place on this planet. We all stumble at some point. Sara Hirsch invites you to join her in enjoying the fall. Published by Burning Eye Books in 2016.
“These are love songs for a lost generation.” Joelle Taylor
Link to buy the book: http://sarahirsch.bigcartel.com/
First Day in a New Job
The schoolyard is a cemetery of my fear. My worries
are headstone blazers on the backs of computer-game
zombies who haunt my saunter into school. I could
bury myself alive in here. This is no place for a poet.
I need you to grab my hand and drag me through the
schoolyard graveyard after dark. Make me walk my
nightmare. When my footsteps resist, insist they keep
going, crunching over was that a bone? It is never a bone.
It is stick and stone words that break at my boots and echo up
my spine as I climb through the corridors trying to find safety
in staff rooms, cups of cold coffee and the rhythm of the
photocopier, tomb-like in the corner while the ghosts haunt
me, taunt me from their desks. Let me jump at the shadow
of a hundred expectant faces in the murky moonlit hall,
let them all smell my terror. Let it fill them up, let it give them
hope that even grown-ups are afraid of the dark.
Let go of my hand and I will run through the blackboard
night. Past the trees that trip me, past the ghouls that lurk in
doorways waiting for me to pass. Past the buried books that
remind me that I don’t know enough to do this.
Until I start to see glimmers of light in curious eyes that
guide me to safety. Until I remember that everyone wants
their hand held sometimes. That everyone is scared of the
dark before they get used to it,
that everything is a graveyard
until you bury your fear of it.
Louder Than Words
Available summer 2017. Published by BX3 (an imprint of Burning Eye Books).
Sara Hirsch presents poems for and about young people and a selection of their responses in this gritty, honest and accessible collection. This is a conversation between poems, schools and hemispheres, including poems by students in London and New Zealand, alongside Sara’s original poems that inspired them.
These poems spiral between the personal and the universal in an attempt to capture what it is to write, speak and breathe as a young person today and as a poet who still doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up.
‘This book shows that one of the great ways to start people writing poems is for one person to read a poem they’ve written and talk about it. This sets off a string of thoughts and ideas in the minds of those listening who can, if the situation is right, usually start writing. In this excellent collection, Sara Hirsch both demonstrates the method and gives us the results, making it a great read and model for how to teach poetry.’ Michael Rosen
Written for the Museum of London about the great fire of London.
No one knows exactly who started the rumour.
Some say it was the baker, but we know
it doesn’t really matter.
A rumour is not about the source but the spread.
Like disease, its power is not in the
first bitten, but in counting the dead.
I was always just supposed to be a whisper
A rumbling in the gutter, a mutter under
London’s breath, blending in, part of the clutter
but a lot of people like to chatter, and I
scattered like sparks from one mouth to another,
It’s not my fault they built themselves so close together.
I grew louder. Until the streets hummed red with
mentions of my name. My ears were burning bright
as each house flamed gold in jaundiced shame
and then the wind changed
and suddenly this humble mumble
was given a gust of confidence.
I took the inhalation gifted to me by the breeze
and I coughed and I wheezed and I billowed
and I blew. Flew, through every wooden door.
I was a scarlet scandal, volcanic gossip
like you’ve never heard before, an unstoppable
explosion of did you hear? loosed like a lion’s roar.
I was music, electric, buzzing under skin,
I was a proud peacock showing off
to anyone who let me in. I was a warrior
I was brave, I caught on like a Mexican wave,
I pulsed like blood through the city’s veins,
I was the circus animal escaped from its cage.
I was laughter, I was hunger, I was rage.
Don’t you recognise me? Are you sure?
Look closer, through the smoke,
trust me, we’ve met before.
In the blaze of a bitter word
or the crackle of a callous cackle,
every time you’ve scrunched your face,
every furious flicker of your tongue,
London has always been an angry place.
I’m nothing new, I just joined in the race.
You called me great.
I’m what you wanted,
I’m your morbid fascination
don’t you dare weep in my wake.
So, before you tell your children
of a sleeping City savaged by slander,
tell them the truth behind my name.
The rumour is nothing
without those that spread it.
I am not the one to blame.