A poetry writing initiative at MOD schools during lockdown has produced so much creative work, it has been turned into a poetry anthology by Defence Children Services.

Across the Oceans, illustrated by the children themselves and with a foreword by Stephen Fry, came about following an initiative to develop pupils’ writing skills.

Hannah Field, Acting Head of English at King Richard School, Cyprus, who brought together the students’ work in the anthology says: “Children from Y6 at Dhekelia Primary School and Y4 in Ayios Nikolaos Primary School were each paired with poetry mentors from my secondary students, who read the younger children’s poems and wrote letters or sent videos with ideas on how to improve their work.”

The poetry collection joins together pupils and staff from schools as far flung as Brunei, the Falklands, Germany and Cyprus.

Hannah added: “When our young people see their words in print, it gives them a sense that their writing and their ideas are just as valid and significant as those of writers they study.  And to have such an esteemed literary figure as Stephen Fry writing a foreword to adds another layer of authority to their thoughts and words.

“By collecting these poems in one volume we are bringing together the voices of our young people, at a time in which many have felt particularly isolated.”

The anthology has also been endorsed by General Sir Patrick Sanders, Commander of Strategic Command. He said: “This collection of poetry celebrates the wonderful creativity of the younger members of our military community based overseas around the globe.

“Poetry helps us to develop our own emotional intelligence and allows us to understand the lives and experiences of others from all corners of our world.  This anthology reflects a wide range of ideas, mirroring our distinct and very diverse service family.”

Each MOD School library will have a copy of the anthology and copies will be sent to messes and the offices of senior military personnel.

*Look out for more about MOD schools in the next edition of Army&You, out from 29 March.

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