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Youngster from Sheffield perform their poems with Benjamin Zephaniah at Sheffield Hubs as part of the Off The Shelf event
Youngster from Sheffield perform their poems with Benjamin Zephaniah at Sheffield Hubs as part of the Off The Shelf event
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YOUNG people used poetry to express themselves after working with well-known performance poet Benjamin Zephaniah.

The group led the spoken word event with Benjamin - an artistic curator of this year’s Off the Shelf literary festival in Sheffield - at a packed event in the city.

Benjamin said: “With this event I really wanted to give people a voice who would not normally have a voice.

“I wanted to get people on stage who would not normally be on stage.”

Called The Youth Word Up, the event involved almost two months of preparation with the support of Sheffield City Council’s Youth Justice Service and the Community Youth Team Service.

Local poets and writers also took part in workshops designed to develop the young people’s writing and performance skills as well as building self-confidence.

The young performers were aged from 13 to 19 and came to the programme from different backgrounds or challenging circumstances.

They spoke of their dreams, experiences and fears in the performances.

Writer Wes Brown, who led workshops with Mark Doyle, said: “It has been a transformative experience working with people who would not have otherwise engaged with writing, poetry or literature.

“We’ve had some laughs together and have managed to channel their energy and passion.”

All the young people have been given a special bronze award which is recognised at school and on their CVs.

Off The Shelf starts on Saturday October 13 in its 21st anniversary year and other star guests include actor Richard Wilson and musician Peter Hook.

n Visit www.offtheshelf.org.uk for more details or tickets.