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'Stepney Words III' and 'Being Me' Launch

Tuesday 21 March
Mezzanine Gallery

In a nutshell

Join us to celebrate young people’s stories in words and images.

Go on...

We welcome a new exhibition of photographs taken by students from Morpeth School, and launch a book of poetry authored by local students in collaboration with Apples and Snakes. 

In 1971, 24 year old student teacher Chris Searle was sacked for publishing Stepney Words - a book of poems written by his students. The day following his dismissal, 800 students went on strike in protest, marching through the City of London to Trafalgar Square.

As part of Rich Mix’s ten year anniversary celebrations, we worked with Chris Searle, four Tower Hamlets secondary schools, and the UK’s leading poetry organization Apples and Snakes on a follow up project to the original Stepney Words. Young people from George Green’s School, Green Spring Academy Shoreditch, Langdon Park School and Morpeth School have been working closely with London’s leading poets including the Young People’s Laureate, Caleb Femi, to explore what has changed in Tower Hamlets since the 1970’s and they have created a poetry book about East London today: Stepney Words III.

Photographic exhibition Being Me is the result of a year-long creative collaboration between young people renowned photographer, writer and activist Shahidul Alam. Through photography, young people explore their own stories and identities.

What to Expect

From 5pm you will have the chance to see the new exhibition Being Me on the mezzanine gallery. At 5.45pm we'll have some opening words from Chris Searle, Shahidul Alam and local historian Alan Gilbey. From 6.45pm, students will read poems from Stepney Words III, alongside the poets Caleb Femi, Maria Ferguson, Cecilia Knapp and Talia Randall. Refreshments will be provided. The event finishes around 8.30pm.

Who's Involved

Apples and Snakes is England’s leading organisation for spoken word, with a national reputation for producing exciting, engaging and transformative work in performance and participation.  Apples and Snakes produce SPINE Festival.

Caleb Femi is the Young People's Laureate for London. He is also an English teacher, filmmaker and photographer. As a poet, Caleb's commissions include the Tate Modern, The Royal Society for Literature, Lit Festival and the Guardian.

Chris Searle was born in Romford in 1944. He has written or edited over fifty books on subjects as diverse as education, poetry, language, journalism, cricket and jazz.

Shahidul Alam is a photographer, writer and activist, and the founder of Drik.

The schools involved were George Green’s School, Green Spring Academy Shoreditch, Langdon Park School and Morpeth School.

What people are saying

'Adults do lots of talking for young people, speculating about what it’s like to be young in today’s world, but do we really know how young people feel and think? This work is bringing to life what young people think about Tower Hamlets today'  - Lisa Mead, director of Apples and Snakes

Find out more

Buy the book

You can buy the book Stepney Words III online, here.

Things you should know

This event is free and open to all ages

Are you a teacher interested in coming to this event with students? Please get in touch with, who can provide any extra information for school groups.

Image credit: Ron McCormick

This event is wheelchair accessible.

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