“Listen, hit’s semple:/ in Orkney I’m English;/ in England I’m Scottish;/ in Scotland, Orcadian.” And at Kingussie High School, he’s quite a sensation. Probably the first performance poet to visit the school, Harry Giles was with us for most of Thursday 9th September running two workshops and giving an Assembly. Described as “one of contemporary Scotland’s most interesting young voices”, Harry’s work embraces Scots, English, Orcadian and playful dialects of his own, all of which he regularly performs. Having won numerous Poetry Slams, he is also shortlisted for two of the UK’s most prestigious poetry prizes: the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award and The Forward Prize for Best First Collection.
He also loves working with others and came to Kingussie High School through help from Creative Scotland’s ‘Live Literature Funding’ managed by the Scottish Book Trust. In two workshops, S3-S5 pupils wrote poems exploring the question ‘Who Am I?” and experimented with physical and vocal strategies for performance, while in the Assembly, a group of about 200 were fascinated and often amused by Harry’s inventive poems. “It’s okay to laugh,” he assured them as he went on to answer the many questions that pupils had written in advance. These ranged from How much do you earn? (about the same as stacking supermarket shelves, but more fun) to Who’s your favourite poet? (Edwin Morgan) to Do you play Pokemon go? (No, but he loves social media).
Harry’s visit was one of the many activities organised as part of ‘fREADom’, KHS’s Reading for Pleasure programme and was very successful with positive feedback from pupils and staff. It kick starts a focus on poetry in the school library which will culminate in our annual readings on National Poetry Day on the 6th of October.