Chris Searle – Stepney Schoolkids Strike

Chris Searle is the teacher whose publishing of poems by his pupils led to his sacking and to the kids then going on strike and marching to Trafalgar Square to demand for his re-instatement.

This poem about the kids is from his 1974 collection Mainland.

Strike Of Words
(Stepney, May 28th, 1971)

Anyone can write a poem, I still hold that,
But you children, sharply organised,
You made your words strike,
The words of your class march,
Past middle-class poet-cynics
Shaking their heads, declaring
‘Poetry can do nothing,
It makes nothing happen’.

Yes, their poetry can do nothing,
Morosely making nothing of the world,
But yours, wed to the march
Can take it over.

Priests who lived for learning shackles
And dullards hanging on to power
Saw their enemies in you, in us,
And with your shouting, loyal words
You blew them over with your poetry.

These children made me what I am,
Their words carved me out a new mind –
I work to make myself
Worth the winning.

Magnificent children,
Sons and daughters of
The future’s implacable equity:
I am in love with your clarity
I am in love with your Class.

Chris Searle

Stepney 71


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