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Dame Vivienne Westwood hosts young writers poetry gala at Keats House in Hampstead

PUBLISHED: 17:00 23 October 2013

Vivienne Westwood at Keat's Community Library with young poets from her Climate Revolution initiative from left Phil Coates, Phoebe Thomson, Laura O'Driscoll, Poppy Turner and Darien Charles. Picture: Polly Hancock

Vivienne Westwood at Keat's Community Library with young poets from her Climate Revolution initiative from left Phil Coates, Phoebe Thomson, Laura O'Driscoll, Poppy Turner and Darien Charles. Picture: Polly Hancock

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She is a world-famous designer whose creative talents have been the bedrock of an unrivalled career at the forefront of British fashion.

Vivienne Westwood at Keat's Community Library with Climate Revolution poetry book. Picture: Polly HancockVivienne Westwood at Keat's Community Library with Climate Revolution poetry book. Picture: Polly Hancock

Now Dame Vivienne Westwood is helping to inspire the next generation of creatives – but not in her own field of expertise.

The renowned designer and activist was in Hampstead this week to support the work of a clutch of young poets.

The 72-year-old hosted readings of their work on Saturday at Keats House in Keats Grove, the former home of poet John Keats.

The gala was the culmination of a three-month project that began in the summer and challenged five writers, aged 17 to 22, to raise awareness of climate change through poetry.

Dame Vivienne, an environmental campaigner, also met with the aspiring poets in August to discuss her Climate Revolution project, which urges people to act to combat climate change.

Writer Darien Charles, 22, who works as a teaching assistant at North Harringay Primary School said: “She’s very eccentric and quite opinionated and I can see why she’s existed for so long in fashion.

“I found her very interesting to talk to.

“The project was an enjoyable experience and it was great to be able to showcase some of my work and to learn how other writers approach their work.”

The writers were given master-classes by the likes of professional poet Olivia Cole, the literary editor of GQ magazine, along with vocal training to help build their confidence ahead of the readings on Saturday.

They also recorded readings at a professional studio and posed for a photo shoot.

The Keats House finale saw the young poets read to a celebrity-packed audience including The Dark Knight Rises actress Juno Temple and TV presenter Anna Richardson.

The event doubled as the launch of a poetry collection that has been produced from their work.

Brenda Ramsey, founder of not-for-profit YOUYOU Mentoring, which organised the scheme, said: “Dame Vivienne is very passionate about the environment and the poetry project was very much about her drive and ambition to get people active.

“She met the poets at a very early stage and she was hugely inspirational for them.

“They were so dynamic on the evening.

‘‘One of the girls said the project has really given her faith in herself both as a poet and more generally.”

She added: “We did it at Keats House because Keats had a real interest in the natural environment and social issues.

“The message of the project was to encourage people to do simple things in their lives to help combat climate change, so there was a link in terms of what he would have been trying to do in his life.”


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