‘For me poetry is so amazing as a concept, as it is free and open and it gives people a chance to express themselves in a way few other art forms can.’
Serena Arthur, 19, from South Yardley, is using her position as a former Young Poet Laureate for Birmingham to tackle poor literacy amongst children in the city, and instil a love of literature – and especially poetry – for life.
'I want to encourage children to enjoy literacy, writing and reading in a way that seems to be becoming less important in the day of modernity and technology,’ she says.
Her story was broadcast on ITV News Central on May 4.
‘I think a lot of people think that reading isn’t so important anymore, so they might not focus on that,' adds Serena.
‘Young Poet Laureate is someone who has the responsibility of almost representing poetry, so as well as being someone who sees poetry as their passion, it is also my role to make poetry other people's passion as well.’
Serena – who is now studying English at Oxford University - regularly runs sessions in primary schools, where she encourages young people to enjoy poetry, listen to some of her own work and write some of their own.
‘Literacy is something that makes us all communicative, both in terms of a community and communication,’ she says.
'Without good reading and writing people won’t be able to say what they want to say because they don’t have the skills to do it, and that can cause people real problems when they get to university age or once they try to get jobs.’
Liz Gordon–Smith, from the child literacy charity Beanstalk, supports Serena's campaign.
She says: ‘Last year 42 per cent of school children in Birmingham left primary school not being able to read to the required standard, and that is way above the national average of 34 per cent. That will have a detriment impact on their future.
‘If low literacy levels continue to adult hood it’s going to limit their employment chances that will have a detrimental impact on their lives.’
Serena adds: 'I want to get parents and teachers to involve more literature, more poetry in their curriculum or their teaching of children so that it isn’t something that they should hide or be ashamed of.’
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