My column last month was on the importance of poetry to the National Curriculum. I revisited the subject of poetry this month when I spoke to Twickenham resident Jo Harker Shaw about her work with Creative Voices Uganda and her own work.
Creative Voices Uganda is a course Jo has been running in partnership with Busano Community Initiative Uganda, a charity that provides underprivileged young people with education and vital skills to aid them to contribute to their community. Jo’s initial involvement was simply providing the students at Buson with English and writing skills, as due to COVID19 the Ugandan government has declared a dead academic year. However, the more Jo worked with these intelligent young people, the more she was fascinated by their creativity. She Introduced them to the skills of poetry writing and editing which ‘proved incredibly rewarding’. Jo is currently collecting their works for a book to be entitled Creative Voices from Busano which will be published this autumn, with all proceeds going to support the Busano Community Initiative.
Jo Harker Shaw is Scottish poet and novelist currently completing her PhD at St Mary’s University where she teaches in English and Creative Writing. She runs poetry workshops in local libraries and online through Harker Shaw Poetry (facebook.com/HarkerShaw). She is the author of several volumes of poetry for adults (Songs of the River) and children (The Witches of Aira Falls Poetry Workbook) and has been shortlisted for the Outspoken Poetry Prize.
Dr Richard Mills is Senior Lecturer in Literature and Popular Culture at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.