Apples and Snakes and Rich Mix presents

In May 1971, a young English teacher named Chris Searle, was sacked for publishing a book of his students’ poems, ‘Stepney Words’. A week later 800 school students came out on strike and marched through the City of London to Trafalgar Square. The ‘Stepney Words’ poems were reprinted in national newspapers and became famous. The poets were invited to read their poems at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, the Young Vic, at Poetry International and on radio and television. The furore over the poems gave a real incentive to the teaching of creative writing in schools, as well as encouraging the forming of many local poetry groups in urban neighbourhoods throughout the country. Searle was eventually reinstated two years later in April 1973.

40 years later Rich Mix partnered with Apples and Snakes to produce a new volume of ‘Stepney Words’. In collaboration with Chris Searle, 4 spoken word artists led workshops in 4 schools in Tower Hamlets exploring what had changed since the 1970’s and what hadn’t. Following the workshops there was an open submission for students to write poems for inclusion in ‘Stepney Words III’ alongside 4 new commissions from Caleb Femi, Maria Ferguson, Cecilia Knapp and Talia Randall. The publication includes photography from Ron McCormick, who also worked on the original Stepney Words project and is available to order.

Commissioned by Rich Mix in partnership with Apples and Snakes.

Lead Artist: Chris Searle
Lead Poets: Caleb Femi, Maria Ferguson, Cecilia Knapp & Talia Randall
Student poets from George Green’s School, Green Spring Academy Shoreditch, Langdon Park School and Morpeth School
Designer & Photographer: Ron McCormick
Producer & Editor: Maeve O’Neill