The original Potty Poet, and, in fact,the inventor of the genre, Gez Walsh burst on to the children’s poetry scene in 1997 with his ground-breaking collection The Spot on My Bum. Originally written to encourage his own dyslexic son to read, this book has now sold over half a million copies, and helped engage kids all over the country – and sometimes beyond – in the joy of reading, writing, literacy, and self-expression. Especially as the subject-matter of the poems is an obvious attention-grabber and their humour provides an easy entry point for reluctant readers and students potentially unwilling to engage with “mainstream” poetry.
Since those early days, his wacky collections of poetry have been featured on innumerable local radio stations, BBC TV’s Fully Booked, Look North, and Yorkshire TV’s Calendar, as well as festivals such as the Northern Childrens’ Writers Festival, Young Readers UK, Hull Literature Festival, Manchester Poetry Festival, The Glastonbury Festival, and many others.
In recent years, Gez has branched out far beyond the confines of his original writing, having become a radio presenter for radio Phoenix fm (96.7fm), As well as sound, Gez also works with visual images: he has worked on many films, using young, talented film-makers fresh from University, as this is the medium that most young people want to break into, the most successful so far being a film about the holocaust by a young film maker which has now been distributed around the country. In terms of writing, he has also branched out in different directions. Twisted Minds, his horror/thriller genre series for the young adult market, has now seen the publication of four titles, with others in the pipeline. He is also working on a volume of poetry for adults, as opposed to the usual fare of the Potty Poets series, and a cookery book inspired by the Italian side of his family, Cooking With Babbo and Nonna.
Gez has been working for the last few years with local government and education authorities to write and develop one-off unique projects. His brief, as always, has been to engage young people who would not normally be interested in art or literature. Working with young people of all age ranges and backgrounds, Gez has worked to help them to develop their communication skills along with building confidence. For Gez, it’s not about ticking boxes, but helping young people to see the point of education and develop a love of subjects, without them ever thinking that they are consciously“learning” anything.
His work in education was recognised officially in 2014 when he was appointed Poet Laureate to Calderdale Council a role which has involved him being a poetry ambassador and a promoter of literacy and reading in places as diverse as schools, libraries, and shopping centres! The appalling flooding in Calderdale around Christmas 2015 led to a project, working with the Young Poet Laureate of Calderdale, Joel Duncan, to work with schools in the affected areas. This eventually led to a poetry collection, written by the students themselves, Floods of Tears, Floods of Laughter, which is being sold to raise funds for the flood relief fund.
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