6 More Brilliant Poetry Performances on YouTube for Teens

Jenny Lindsay speaking to pupils at an authors live event - image by Alan Peebles

There's a lot to gain from seeking out new and exciting poetry and introducing it to your pupils. Poetry can present points of view with the kind of precision and conciseness that prose often can't match, and it's gaining serious traction in Scotland. So, after the continuing popularity of our previous poetry roundup, we thought we'd bring you another few wee gems!

The burgeoning spoken word scene has plenty to offer teens. Even if they're not the type to enjoy the performance aspect, there's lots of thought-provoking stuff in the work of contemporary performance poets. The pieces below could help spark conversations about gender, politics, national identity, speaking out, and much more besides.

 

George the Poet - 'My Mandela'

Thank goodness that very few of us have to live through the kind of oppression, fear and punishment that Nelson Mandela had to endure. This performance really encourages the viewer to put themselves in Mandela's shoes and think about what his sacrifices mean to them.

 

Clint Smith - 'The Danger of Silence'

Teacher Clint Smith performs this poem in the kind of understated way that I really love. It's all about the danger of not speaking up and the struggle to find one's own voice. TED has over forty poetry-themed videos, all well worth your time!

 

Get Lit - 'Somewhere in America'

America is never less than a fascinating place to study, and this poem looks frankly and passionately at some of the contradictions and hypocrisies in society and government. It's performed by Belissa Escobedo, Rhiannon McGavin, and Zariya Allen, who all belong to the Get Lit organisation, which looks to 'change the world, one word at a time.' With this kind of performance, they just might.

 

Harry Baker - 'Real Men'

Any poem that helps young people to think about what masculinity really means has to be a good thing, and Harry Baker looks at his own sense of masculinity in a funny, self-deprecating and moving way.

 

Amina Iro and Hannah Halpern - 'Poetry for Peace'

This is a great performance which talks about the fallacies behind cultural and religious divisions. It rips apart stereotypes and focuses on what human beings have in common. Great stuff.

Jenny Lindsay - The Gap

A beautiful poem about Jenny's relationship with her gran, taken from our Authors Live event with Jenny, Jackie Kay and MiKo Berry. Fast forward to around 19:20 and you can hear Jenny's poem. And afterwards, you can use the accompanying learning resources from teacher Gordon Fisher to explore poems by all three poets in the event. You'll also find a transcript of Jenny's poem on this page.

Jenny is a fantastic poet and her work provides a lot of food for thought, not least about Scottish identity. For something more hard-edged, look on YouTube for 'In Scotland, We Know We're F#*ked', which is a funny and probably quite divisive little piece about the Scottish psyche.

 

Looking for more? Try this blog post featuring our best poetry resources for both primary and secondary. Also, why not check out the rest of our blog posts on Poetry in the Classroom, featuring inspiring examples of practice and handy resources?

You can also find some great recommendations for poetry in our book lists section.