When people think of poetry, they often think of the great William Shakespeare, Wordsworth or W.B Yeats or some other famous British poet. The truth is, as talented as these poets are, many of those who are not familiar with the written verse, think of it as a posh pastime for the middle and upper classes.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Because far from being stuffy clipped verses that you might associate with a GCSE textbook, poetry can be hard-hitting, gritty and entertaining. Think Linton Kwesi Johnson, think Saul Williams or Jean Binta Breeze, and who could forget the great Benjamin Zephaniah?

Now forget that for a minute and think of Leeds Young Authors (LOYA), who are arguably the most talented group of up and coming wordsmiths in Chapeltown if not the city.

These dynamic, urban poets from Leeds, have starred in not one, not two but three documentaries.

Pretty impressive eh? One of those documentaries is Vision of Young Voices, a hard-hitting documentary about the poets who are preparing for one of the biggest poetry slams in the world.

Most – but not all – of them are from disadvantaged, minority backgrounds, and the poetry they write often depicts their struggles with things such as poverty, broken homes, abuse and the streets.

At times, the snapshots of their poetry doesn’t always make for comfortable listening – although it is highly engaging and evocative. But what makes the documentary so powerful was the passionate and theatrical way they perform pieces of their poetry in front of the camera in a way that is both heart-rendering, genuine and remarkable.


There is the saying children must be seen and not heard, and even today many take the attitude that young people do not experience “adult” issues such as sex, or domestic violence for example, and they certainly ought not to be talking about it. What this film does is it exposes that doctrine for the falsehood that it is, and lets these skilled young people speak for themselves. It is often argued that kids nowadays should just be kids, and shouldn’t be talking about things that we don’t associate young people with. But that is just not the reality of the world we face today and this documentary is really good at highlighting that – in a subtle way through showing short clips of their poetry performance.

The film follows the poets as they start their lyrical journey in a modest workshop in Chapeltown run by two very dedicated, and established black poets Khadijah Ibrahiim and Paulette Morris, as well as volunteers who donate their free time to the workshop.

Vision of Young Voices tells the story of the authors who are preparing for the 2007 Brave New Voices slam held in San Jose Califonia.

You can almost feel the excitement and the tension in the run-up to the event, and are then blown away by the raw talent not just of the Leeds group, but also of their competitors in the US.

This film is the predecessor of the better known documentary We Are Poets which was shown in cinemas and film festivals in the UK and abroad. Like Vision of Young Voices, We Are Poets was directed by a Leeds University film student Alex Ramseyer-Bache.

The key message about this film is not just about who wins and who loses the competition, but the sheer hard work and resolve of the young teenagers, who dedicate their free time after school or college to attending the workshops and practising their performance as well as brushing up on their writing skills.

But what also makes the film more interesting is the featured interviews with the organisers of Brave New Voices as well as the interviews with the founding directors of LYA.

With these interviews, you really feel like you get a bigger picture of the motivations and pressures of these people as the camera goes behind the scenes and gives you a deeper understanding of how events such as Brave New Voices come about.

As far as low budget films go, this film is not just well-made but expertly done, gripping, and insightful.

Whilst it did not receive the same acclaim as We Are Poets, this is still in its own right a very powerful documentary with important stories to tell that has relevance to thousands of people not just in Leeds, but across the UK. This was among one of the first documentaries made by Ramseyer, who really demonstrates his capabilities as a film-maker with this debut movie.

Akashic Times is the UK’s only online, fully independent not-for-profit weekly newspaper that brings you real news from across the globe.

If you want to keep ahead of what is really going on in the world, subscribe to our newspaper via the subscribe button and join our Facebook & Twitter pages. Subscription is completely free ofcourse

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


(Spamcheck Enabled)