Two schools in Hackney: two classes of thirty ten year olds. Thirty four poems extracted from what they said.
For Hackney Regeneration Programme, London, 2000
1. My name is Rianne and I’m the best girl in the world.
I get to school by walking along the pavement.
The events on the way are the Jay shop, the bus stop, the church, the traffic lights, the factory which I hate, the flower box, the dog turd, the wrecked motorbike and the school gate.
What’s the Jay shop? The Jay shop is the Jay shop.
Why do I like it? Because I do.
2. My name is Misha and I’m the best boy in the world.
I am proud and I am brave
I can beat anybody
I run up hills and roll down them faster than anyone
I have never been to Red Path
I have never been to Greenwich Park
I have never been anywhere but I am the best boy in the world
3. My name is Karen and that’s where my nan lives.
I live next door
No not next door, but next door to that
I have lived here all my life
My nan has lived here all her life but she used to live on the fifteenth floor
The fifteenth floor no longer exists
I pressed the button to blow it up when I was four
4. My name is Elizabeth and I’m cool
My coat is big and yellow and its still cool
My lunch box has a fizz bar and a packet of wotsits and water in a seven-up bottle and three yoghurts
How much is a coke?
Bloody Misha crashed into me and made me spill it all down my front
I hate him and these tears streaming down my face prove it
5. My name is Momona
Momona, I told you
I lived in Sierra Leone
Then I lived in Italy
Where? In Rome
Now I live in Kingsmead estate
What will happen if god takes everything away?
Because of all the wars we fight
If he takes everything away we won’t have anything to eat
That’s stupid what you say
We can’t eat each other
6. My name is Rebecca
The heel just came off my shoe
I think this bridge is too high
We might fall into the canal
How can I walk all the way over there with no heel on my shoe
Here wait a minute
Let me break the other one off
7. My name is Riccardo
I have discovered a door can I go behind it?
Can I pretend to knock on it and then you open it and I come in and we’ll take a photograph?
Now what? Can we run over there?
Yes we can! We can run over there!
Can we roll down this hill?
Yes we can! We can roll down this hill!
8. My name is Diedre
I’m not getting off this bus
It’s too fucking cold
I’m staying here
I don’t like cheese
I’m staying here
When are we going home?
When are we going home?
9. My name is Clara
There is a golden glow coming from the tunnel
The cars are disappearing into the glow
It looks like a morning sunset
The sound they make is like wild animals growling
Strange but true
10. My name is Mark and I’m smart
I play football for Arsenal
No, West Ham
No, Leyton Orient
I think the whole world should be grass
So it could be football pitches everywhere
What’s that? The sky
11. My name is Ekin
We just moved to another house
We moved because the old one was too dirty, so we moved
When I grow up I’m going to live in Turkey
I’m going to be a millionare
12. My name is Johnson and I’m ten
I’m never going to be eighty, man
That is so old!
My dad, right? He says he hopes he dies before he gets old
My mum’s really young and pretty
13. My name is Amil and I’ve got an imac
I mean my name is Amil and I’m getting an imac
I’m getting my own little laptop as well
When? On my birthday
14. My name is Kevin and I’m well hard
This place is wicked
I’m well chuffed
My brother did that
He’s so tall he can reach the top of that wall
Yeah. Rocket man’s his tag
You see his name everywhere
15. My name is Ellissa
I’ve got my money with me
In my purse
In my pocket
I’ve got a Mars bar in my pocket as well
Want to see? Don’t let everyone see!
I’m going to buy another one
16. My name is Claire and I wear glasses so I can see things more sharply
I live miles away
How do I get to school? I drive
Rianne and Elizabeth are my friends
Except at weekends, Because I live too far away.
Then I play with my baby brother
17. My name is Habeeba
My boyfriend’s name is none of your business
I always wear black, I love black
I don’t wear make up to school
We’re not allowed to wear make up at school
I think it’s stupid
But I do at home
18. My name is Stephen, my friends call me Steve and my mum calls me Steevy
There is so much rubbish round here
I like it, it’s interesting
I found a dead cat in the canal on Saturday
It was floating face down with its legs hanging in the water
What kind of cat? A dead cat
What kind? A black one
But its fur was turning green like moss
19. My name is Islam
It doesn’t mean anything, it’s just my name
Why should I talk to you?
What do I like? Running
I like Graffiti. What don’t I like?
20. My name is Sinead
The marshes are completely flat
They should have Hills
Hills are good
Football is rubbish
Football is completely rubbish
I wish they’d kick their balls in the river and lose them forever
21. My name is Mahsum
Sometimes you get stones
And you skip the water
Sometimes you jump it over the other side
I seen that
My friend done that
He threw it and skipped it like this!
And like this!
22. My name is Shazira and I hate it here
Not the whole thing just this place
Why? The ground is too rough
It should be smooth
It should be not bumpy
And the water is dirty
The water should be clean and not dirty
23. My name is Alan and I like looking at the ducks
And the Swans, yeah?
I wanna know why some people round me, they throw stones at the Ducks!
And they use their eggs, like, as targets!
Why would someone wanna throw stones at duck’s eggs?
I don’t understand why people do that
My uncle chases them, yeah? He shouted at them
He’s going to get the Police on them
24. My name is Tuan Li
Have you ever been here before?
Have you ever fallen in the canal?
Have you ever been here in the dark?
Have you ever been on the bridge?
Have you ever been on Tower Bridge?
I’ve got the book of that.
25. My name is Ellie
Sometimes you get boats here.
I saw a boat and this man runs along the path and shouts and tells them what do
Like breath in and out
He tells the people rowing, they’re men and women
I don’t think men and women should row the same boat
It’s not fair
26. My name is Rose Sharron
We’ve got a caravan
How long is it? Thirty foot long
I like Britney Spears and Steps
Look, this is what you do with your feet
And this is what you do with your arms
You have to learn it
27. My name is Ade, Adetokunbo for long
Why do people let their dogs do toilet anywhere?
You don’t know?
Why do people let Graffiti on all this bridge?
You don’t know?
Why do people build this bridge up so high?
You don’t know?
28. My name is Catherine
This is a big drop into the water
On the Thames once I heard about this story
There was a man
He was shouting off of one of the ferries
Then he jumped into the Thames
And he committed suicide for some reason
29. My name is Nora It’s so ugly that name I wish I was called something else
I’m nearly as tall as you
How tall are you?
How old are you?
And I’m really tired, man
Here, you pull me along
Because I’m too tired, man
30. My name is Michael
How long do you think it will be before global warming hits the Earth
And starts flooding the place?
Because I heard it on TV, that global warming;
And it’s making all the ice from the South and North Pole dissolve.
London will get flooded
And we’ll all have to go and live on mountains
31. My name is Christopher and I am fast
I never took this hat off all last holidays
When I got back to school, I had to take it off
But I can wear it at break and coming and going
That’s why I like this trip
I can wear my hat all day
32. My name is Rachel
Children of our age like things to be the same size as us
So we are most interested in ourselves
Did you see how all Riccardo’s pictures are of punches, strangling and kicking?
These are my photos of Ellissa
I like the way she has her mouth open in every photo
33. My name is Kabul and I’m quiet and short and observant
I think the most interesting thing is the way the rooftops meet the sky
All round you, there’s a join between the buildings and the trees and the sky
And it’s always there wherever you go
Sometimes it’s nearer than further
Have I ever been to the seaside?
No way, man, but I will
34. My name is Mary and my whole name is Mary Elizabeth Margaret Moynehan
I think what we need is tree houses
I think what we need is a tower as high as that electricity pylon
I think what we need is to see all the way across London
Without getting killed.