Poet Laureate for rock band Slade headlines Nottingham schools’ literary festival

Paul Cookson with Jada Martin and Cullen Morathota.

Paul Cookson, who’s been described by Noddy Holder as Slade’s poet laureate, was one of 12 famous writers bringing reading and writing to life during The Trent Academies Group literary festival.


Nottinghamshire based Cookson, who’s sold over a million copies of his poetry books, delighted students at Arnold Hill Academy, The Farnborough Academy and Rushcliffe School with his hilarious stand-up comedy style routine as he kicked off the week-long festival.

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He had the pupils in stitches as he launched into a stream of cheeky gags and audience participation and got them all reciting some of his best loved poems, such as “When the wasp went up my brother’s trousers”, “All my pets are dead” and a football version of the Lord’s Prayer.

Other top authors who visited the schools for the festival, included gritty teen fiction writer Bali Rai, award winning author of ‘The art of being normal’ Lisa Williamson and slam poet Dreadlock Alien

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Cookson, who’s published an anthology of poetry specifically about Slade and who’s also official poet in residence for the National Football Museum, said: “The key to getting children reading and writing poetry is they’ve got to enjoy it and think they could do something like that. I try to use subjects they can relate to and humour to draw them in. You have to meet them where they are and then see where you can take them.”


He added: “The students here have been fantastic and the response has been brilliant. If they’re too cool to laugh it makes my job harder but they joined in brilliantly.”


During Cookson’s appearance at Arnold Hill, 12-year-old Jada Martin became the good-natured focus of his jokey banter:

She said: “You normally think of poetry as being boring but he tells loads of jokes. The way he puts it seems to make it so much more fun. It makes me want to try writing poetry.”

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Cullen Morathota, also aged 12, agreed: “It made me see poetry in a new way – a modern version of it. His poems just roll off the tongue and they’re easy to understand. This literary festival is great because it makes you think differently about reading and writing.”


Toni Slee, librarian at The Farnborough Academy and organiser of the festival, said students in all three academies had been buzzing throughout the week:


“They’ve been going into lessons after attending a litfest talk or workshop full of ideas and champing at the bit to tell their teachers all about it. It’s the third year we’ve held the festival and we’ve been able to secure an amazing line up of authors. There’s no better way to get the students heading into the summer holidays with a real zest to keep reading and writing.”

Pictures: Paul Cookson with Jada Martin and Cullen Morathota.