William Hickson’s poem "Try, Try Again" gives a message at the heart of the 2017 Premier League Writing Stars competition, and for one of its judges, resilience inspired his success and passion for his poetry.
Caleb Femi is the Young People’s Laureate for London. He is also an English teacher, filmmaker and photographer and the spoken word runs through all his work.
He is encouraging children aged 5-11 to get creative and enter with any form of poetic writing, including writing rap or music lyrics, in the competition, supported by the National Literacy Trust as part of the Premier League Primary Stars education programme.
“It’s not asking you to be the best speller, the best grammatical writer,” Caleb says. “It’s just asking you to write about a time when you felt inspired or when you showed a huge amount of resilience to overcome a certain situation, and you can do that through poetry.
“It’s not asking you to write in a specific type of form, it’s not asking you to write a limited number of lines or anything. You can just be yourself.
“When I was younger and in school, I really struggled with exams. I always used to fail. I failed my A-Levels four times.
“But the important thing about it is … sometimes when you look at your results and you fail, you think that’s the end of the world.
“But having that resilience inside of you to go back and study harder and try again and try again until you pass, it’s always going to be worth it and is exactly the kind of motivation and one of the characteristics you’re going to need to become the best of the best.
“Whether you’re playing football or studying to become a marine biologist, trying again and having resilience is always at the centre of people’s success.”
Caleb has been passionate about poetry since he was a child but it was when he studied at Queen Mary University that his fear of expressing himself through the art form went away.
“The way I got into poetry was through school,” he says. “I was a huge reader of poetry and loved studying poetry.
“I always felt it wasn’t for me, like I couldn’t write as well as all the authors and the poets I was reading, until I got to university and I had a lecturer who just forced everyone on the course to write a poem – and when we all did it, we realised that actually the only thing stopping you from writing a poem is fear.
“Once that goes away, you are a poet. Once you start writing you just need to overcome your fear initially.”
For more about the Premier League Writing Stars competition visit plprimarystars.com.