Northern poet inspires Sunderland wordsmiths


Poet and comedian Kate Fox has told Sunderland teenagers how her dying father, Mick Jagger and the Great North Run have inspired her work.

Kate, mentor and friend of South Shields comic star Sarah Millican, visited Thornhill School as part of the Northern Children’s Book Festival.

The Festival is in its 31st year and over the past fortnight some of the country’s top writers and illustrators have gone to schools and libraries in Wearside and throughout the North East. It culminates tomorrow (Saturday) in a Gala Day at the Winter Gardens in Sunderland.

This was Kate’s debut at the Festival and after first visiting pupils at Farringdon Community Academy she read some of her poems and talked about her career and influences with Year 10 and 11 Thornhill English students. he was Poet in Residence at the 2013 Glastonbury Festival and said it was: “The nearest, as a poet, I’ll ever to get to hard work.” Kate had to write two poems a day, sleep in a tent and – as it turned out and to her surprise – worked for free.

She compared her time there with Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones who were headlining Glastonbury that year. She wrote, in her poem Mick Jagger’s Yurt, of the luxury she imagined he would be enjoying in his tent: the chef, a pool, supermodels and “a secret tunnel to Martinique.”   Kate – who was born in Bradford, lived in Tynemouth and is now in Thirsk – described how she  only met her biological father when she was 16, just three months before his death, and how it took several years to be able to write about him.

She told students how she was the Poet in Residence in 2011 for the Great North Run. As well as writing, she ran the race and combined the two when composing a poem which she then recited live and breathless on the BBC.

Senior English teacher Sue Davies said Kate’s work and her career was an inspiration for her students. “It showed that their love of words and being wordsmiths in school could be transferred into the world of work,” she said. “Sometimes it’s nice to step out of the constraints of a school and just look at words for entertainment and fun.”

Kate said she hoped her visit would provide food for thought. “I think it’s really important, particularly for the ones who might want to work in a creative profession. If you’ve seen people, who might not come far from where you come from, who do something you might want to do…it’s another little signal that it might be possible for me,” she said.

Dawn Williams of Bridge North East, which supports the Festival, praised the region’s library services which come together every year in a partnership to organise the event. She added: “We are delighted that yet again the world of story-telling has been brought alive by some of this country’s best writers.

“The Northern Children’s Book Festival is a fantastic event which, for well over a quarter of a century, has delighted thousands of children and young people throughout the North East. We have been proud to support the Festival once more.”  


Notes to Editors Bridge North East Sage Gateshead is part of a national network of 10 Bridge Organisations, funded by Arts Council England, to use their experience and expertise to connect children and young people with art and culture. They connect schools and communities with Arts Council National Portfolio Organisations and others in the cultural sector – including museums and libraries – all across the North East region.