October Artist of the Month – Rob Bradley
We caught up with poet Rob Bradley for our October 2019 interview.
About Rob Bradley
Rob Bradley is a rapper, poet and songwriter. He has performed all over the world and is even a freestyle rap world champion. He has just released his first collection of poetry called Reasons to write rhymes.
What a visit from Rob entails
In his visits, Rob performs an interactive freestyle rap where he asks the students for random words and objects and then builds them into an improvised rap.
Rob then teaches the students the cornerstones or rap and explores rhyme, rhythm and poetic devices. He then helps the students devise ideas for the content of a rap and then builds on these ideas to help the students write their own raps. Depending on length of the session and the age of the students, this may be a group writing session or raps written by individuals.
Rob works with any students from Key Stage 2 – Key Stage 5.
For KS2 -3 the sessions focus more on the basics of rhyme, rhythm and performance. This usually culminates in a light hearted group rhyme that can be rehearsed and performed at the end of the session.
For KS 4 – 5 the sessions still cover the basics of rhyme, rhythm and performance but also explore more poetic devices used in rap and discuss concepts and meaning of lyrics further. This either culminates in a well considered group writing or pieces written by individual students.
Sessions can also be tailored to include;
Literacy objectives (e.g. teaching poetic devices)
Off curriculum days
Diversity and racial harmony
Target groups (e.g. NEET, Gifted & Talented)
Poetic comparison (links between rap & Shakespeare)
Performance and confidence building
The sessions can either be delivered as half a day per class (2 classes a day) or 1 hour per class (4 classes a day).
Rob can accommodate anything from small groups of students (5+) to large classes (up to 30).
Feedback from Rob’s previous visits
“Rob had the children spellbound with his rhymes and captivating performance. Our children have been rhyming, rapping and writing ever since. Rhyme and Shine is electric!”
Assistant Headteacher, Marner Primary School.
“Rob’s visit went incredibly well! School has been buzzing ever since and we really hope to have Rob back with us before too long.”
LRC Manager at Fallibroome Academy
“Rob was really engaging with the pupils. The students commented on how much they enjoyed the session and how their new skills helped them understand more about the role of a performer. We will definitely hire Rob again for similar workshops in the future.”
Subject Leader for Music & Dance at Richmond Park Academy, London
“I can’t tell you how much he inspired our students. Rob utterly won over Y9 and especially Y10. His work with our most challenging and disaffected boys was amazing. I had boys beg to attend a workshop. Other members of staff also commented on how inspired they were when they returned to class. Hopefully, we will be able to use their new found interest in words and the power of language in their English studies.”
Participating school in the Isle of Wight Literacy Festival 2018.
“Rob had the children in the palm of his hand from the very first assembly, where he showed them what freestyle rap is. He recognised where children needed support and where they could excel, and showed them what is possible if you aspire, achieve and believe. Rob embodies what education is about and gave the children the chance to see what is possible when you persevere and try hard. My highlight was watching children in Year 6 film their rap and see their happy faces filled with love when they finished- they were over the moon! It was one of those Golden moments! Thank you Rob- we hope to have you back very soon!”
Headteacher at the Academy St James School in Bradford
Interview with Rob Bradley
When and why did you join Authors Abroad?
In early 2018. I had started to visit schools and deliver workshops to young people and working with Authors Abroad seemed like a great opportunity to further develop that work. I'm glad I took that opportunity because their support has lead me to writing my first book.
When did you first become interested in being a poet?
My first memory of writing poetry was aged 8 when I wrote a poem in school about the life cycle of rain water. I think my mum still has that somewhere. When I got older I got heavily influenced by, and later on obsessed with, rap. After entering my first freestyle rap competition when I was 16 I knew that I was going to pursue writing and dedicate to poetry and music.
Do you think people still have a stereotypical image of poets and poetry?
Yes I think so. I think in a lot of young people's minds poetry means tirelessly analysing page poetry from decades or centuries ago. A lot of poetry can seem coded and demands the reader to think, question, translate and emote. For young people, particularly those who do not have much of a natural interest in poetry, this can seem very demanding. A lot of contemporary poetry is engaging, relevant and powerful and takes on many forms. It might not be the first thing people picture though when they hear the word poetry. The work I do with rap, improvisation and song writing really seems to bridge the gap between the two ideas. I think a lot of people are surprised that what I do is poetry.
How much do you think grammar matters in poetry? Should it still be properly constructed, or is it more about getting words down to convey feelings and instil a reaction?
I think ideas reign supreme. Grammar is so important in every day writing but in poetry I would suggest that if you need to abandon it, then abandon it. But know why you are abandoning it. Learn the rules to break them.
How on earth do you get your brain to work fast enough to take parting slam competitions and write rhymes from words the audience has thrown out? Natural ability, lots of practice or a combination of both?
I have no idea! It's a heck of a thing to wake up one day and realise you can do. When I first free-styled I assumed everyone could do it.
Having said that, practice has been crucial. There aren't many manuals on how to do it though, so figuring out exactly what to practice and how has been trial and error. Its probably 75/25 in favour of natural ability.
What is your favourite thing about visiting schools?
The unpredictability. Every session young people pour in with curiosity and intrigue. They often don't know what to expect from the session and I don't know what to expect from their personalities, ideas and creativity. Things students say and create range from the deeply profound to the hilariously absurd and it's a pleasure to be part of that process.
What impact do you hope to have on students that you meet?
I am sure this will read like a cliche but I must echo it all the same. I hope to inspire students. Whether that is to inspire them to try something new, to believe they have a right and a place to tell their story, or just offer momentary inspiration in the moment.
What is your most memorable moment from a school visit so far?
A few weeks ago a young boy about 10 or 11 years old randomly put up his hand and said. 'Do you think we just create poems and songs to let other people know they are not alone?' He managed to distil everything down to a simple beautiful truth. I paused for a few seconds and just replied 'yes'.
What can parents do to encourage and foster a love of reading in their children?
Read to them. Take the time. Put on voices. Become the characters. Buy them stationery. Encourage them to write. Then listen as they read their writing back.
How do you feel about your debut book coming out?
I am excited. I am curious to see how it will be received. It is a really nice milestone. When I was young my auntie bought me an hardback book to write poetry in and my name was embroidered on the front. I never filled the book, so decades later I felt a private victory in seeing a book finished and completed with my name on it.
Do you ever feel exposed when rapping or writing about something quite personal?
There was a point in time where I did. But, I crossed that line a while ago now. My philosophy is someone will relate to this and may well need to hear it Who am I to keep it inside?
Do you believe literature can improve empathy?
100%. Literature is about learning, discovery and exposure. All these things are so necessary in developing empathy.
What are your future plans and ambitions?
I have a lot of music to release. Currently uploading a video every week on YouTube. I really want to fuse my love of storytelling with poetry as well and write a book as a narrative poem. I have been working on some ideas for that.
Paperback or Kindle?
Cats or dogs
Would you rather be able to breathe under water or see in the dark?
See in the dark.
Starter or dessert?
If you were Prime Minister for the day what new law would you introduce?
More arts funding!
Arrange for Rob Bradley to visit your school
To make an enquiry about Rob, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at email@example.com