Young Poets, Creative Multilingualism and Filmmaking

Vicky Macleroy is a Reader in Education at Goldsmiths, University of London. Alongside Jim Anderson, Vicky has led the ‘Critical Connections Multilingual Digital Storytelling Project’ since 2012 to huge success. She shares some of the ways young people have combined poetry and filmmaking to exhibit their experiences of multilingualism.

Jim Anderson and I lead the Critical Connections Multilingual Digital Storytelling Project (2012-ongoing) and poetry has become an integral part of the young people’s filmmaking and creative multilingualism. Young people involved in the project (6 – 18 year olds) have found that poetry is a strong and powerful way to tell their stories in a 3-5 minute film. These students are working creatively with their languages and experimenting with ways to represent their multilingual lives.

In a moving and vivid film about fairness, two young people in a group of 12-14 year olds created a Greek-English digital story interspersing poetry and prose. Student 1 created a monologue framing the digital story with questions to be interrogated whilst Student 2 wrote a personal and emotive poem interspersed into the monologue:

Young people on the project have also worked with poets who were working in their schools as Spoken Word educators. These young people (13-14-year olds) created poetry as a performance art and learnt about the complex process of re-conceptualising metaphors as their poetry became part of a film on the theme of fairness and belonging.



This year, in the Deptford Storytelling project 2020, we worked in collaboration with Deptford Cinema and brought together people of different ages. Different languages, voices, poetry, dance and ceremonies were uses by the filmmakers to tell their stories about families, friendships and communities. Poetry again became an important way for filmmakers to explore ways to represent their local community. The Arabic-English film ‘Water and Light’ fuses Arabic song with English poetry and the performance of Palestinian poet, Farah Chamma.

In 2020-21, we are working towards a digital storytelling festival in June 2021 at Goldsmiths, University of London on the theme of ‘Our Planet’ including a multilingual poetry workshop in the morning for all the young filmmakers. We are working with primary, secondary and complementary schools in England, Cyprus, Germany, Luxembourg and Taiwan across the age range (5 – 18 year olds). More information can be found on the main project website.

Creative Multilingualism – A Manifesto, an open access book published in May 2020, has become part of this powerful dialogue that sees protecting linguistic diversity as central to protecting biological and natural diversity. Poetry, metaphor and musicality in language run through many of these creative projects and the book is dedicated to young people. There is a film introduction to the manifesto. A free PDF of the book is also available.

Vicky Macleroy

Vicky Macleroy is a Reader in Education and Head of the Research Centre of Language, Culture and Learning at Goldsmiths, University of London. She co-ordinates the MA Children’s Literature: Creative Writing Pathway and is co-director of an international literacy project ‘Critical Connections: Multilingual Digital Storytelling’ (2012-present).

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