AN AUSTRALIAN poetry champion has lit the spark of poetic inspiration for South Grafton High School students.

This week the 2014 Australian champion of Slam Poetry, Zohab Zee Khan, spent a day working with groups of students, looking to "inspire the little sparks of fire" in the teenagers.

The visit was part of the Byron Bay Writers Festival Five Writers, Five Days, Five Towns outreach program in the lead-up to the festival.

Zohab said spending the day opening the minds of the young students was a rewarding experience.

"Working with their young minds is pretty much like loosening a shoe lace," he said.

"First of all you undo it and then bit by bit you loosen it until at the end you have an open shoe you can do something with." 

Jensen Li reads his impromptu Poetry Slam piece as part of a Byron Bay Writers Festival workshop held at South Grafton High School. PHOTO: ADAM HOURIGAN
Jensen Li reads his impromptu Poetry Slam piece as part of a Byron Bay Writers Festival workshop held at South Grafton High School. PHOTO: ADAM HOURIGAN

 

He said the group workshopped the idea that each student was "amazing" and they each produced a poem which included the word in its opening line.

Many of the children read out their poems to their fellow poets.

"We heard some pretty amazing poetry from the kids," Zohab said.

"Really this is pretty easy for me. It's the teachers who deserve the praise.

"I just come in here and they've done all the hard work for me."

Zohab is looking forward to the three-day Byron Bay festival, which begins on Friday and attracts writers from around the globe.

Among the visiting writers appearing this year is the 2015 Booker long listed Nigerian writer Chigozie Obioma, whose startling debut novel The Fishermen has delighted the literary world.

Also on the program are British-Pakistani Political commentator Tariq Ali in conversation with Kerry O'Brien, Mexican-based American, Jennifer Clement, whose compelling novel Prayers for the Stolen was shortlisted for this year's PEN Faulkner Award for Fiction, and internationally bestselling American author David Vann, who has featured in 65 international literary festivals.



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