The Amazing Dyslexic Poetry Show

There are some negative perceptions about those with dyslexia.

Such as:-

“Lazy”,

“Stupid,”

“Won’t amount too much”

These words are all things that have been said to me.

I was aged 7 when I realised I had stories that ran around in my head and I used to daydream, acting them out.  I didn’t know why I struggled at school with writing, maths. I knew as did my sister, as we are twins that we were not able to keep up with other students in class.

I recall my primary school days and really enjoyed them, however, my frustrations and those of my sister, manifested themselves as challenging behaviour.

We were always at the headmaster’s office.  Instead of getting a right telling off, he talked us through our issues and explained things, so that the subject matter was easier to understand, at our pace of learning, and eventually we started to understand some of the most complex subjects. I have fond memories of him, as he had time to go through things with us.  Primary school was my only positive experience of education.

Secondary school was a big challenge.  It was a busier environment, as we had not passed the 11 plus.  We were placed in the bottom class, so were labelled at the age of 12, and that’s where things started to go wrong for both of us.

Inevitably, I left school at 15, with no qualifications.  I was deemed not suitable to be entered into any exams, so left on the scrap heap at just 15.  I did manage to secure a job washing up in a café on Hastings pier in Sussex.

It didn’t last long, my parents divorced, I became homeless at 18. I recall one occasion I went for an interview in a supermarket. I was told by the interviewer that I would not “amount to much”.  This left me feeling useless, hopeless, and stupid. My self-esteem already low, hit rock bottom.  It was official.  I was useless, or so I thought.

Then whilst walking in Brighton I saw a man, who looked disheveled. I thought he was homeless, he had holes in his jacket, and was carrying a plastic bag with papers bulging out of it. He looked quite distinguished, despite his appearance.

I don’t recall how we got talking, but he could tell I was dyslexic, just after a few minutes of meeting me. This rather eccentric looking man turned out to be a law professor at the University of Sussex and he mentored me.

I passed GCSEs

I passed A Levels

I went to University and studied law, obtaining a 2.1 with honours.

I had passed exams!

I qualified as a lawyer.

Not bad for someone who wouldn’t amount to much, and had been, classed as lazy, useless, and stupid.

Even though I’d managed to get some confidence back, I found myself having difficulties in my professional life, which resulted in a flood of low self- esteem and culminating in a mental breakdown but with counselling I got better.

I realised that I was not stupid, or lazy.  I could achieve and amount to whatever I wanted to do.  I could live my dreams, stories were still in my head. These stories are now published and more stories are waiting to be written.

I have won awards for my poetry and plays.

I am dyslexic that’s who I am. 

I do not have to apologise for this.

If I read slower, if I use a finger to read text, if my words are jumbled and I say things back to front or have to spell words out,  this is just who I am, a dyslexic woman!

This is why my show, making it’s debut performance at the Edinburgh fringe festival  “The Amazing Dyslexic Poetry Show” had to be written.

It’s a show that inspires you to live your dreams, showing that dyslexia is not a barrier to believing in yourself. It has a powerful message, exploring positivity and some negativity with humour, about hidden disabilities.

My show has a selection of poems on dyslexia and some on different themes.

I am dyslexic, and proud to be

Yes,

This is me!

Sam Rapp, the Dyslexic poet

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“The Amazing Dyslexic Poetry Show” The Small Hall, Lauriston Halls, EH3 9DJ; from 6th to 10th August 2019. Show starts 19:00 (More info here)

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Dyslexia made me, society tried to stop me

DKbag

“You were born an original, don’t die a copy” John Mason

I recently decorated the above canvas bag. I was inspired to do this because I created something similar at Women Making It (in Glasgow Women’s Library) and also by Richard Branson’s ‘Made by Dyslexia’ campaign.

I think it is time to list some clichés used to give advice:-

          “Just be yourself

          “Think outside the box

          “We need innovative thinkers”

The thing is society and the education system “needs” or believes it needs everyone to think and learn in the same way in order to succeed. Obviously there is a need for orderly behaviour so that everyone can learn and get things done.

I think it is extremely important that every individual learns about their learning style and how their brain works (preferably as early in childhood as possible).

Let’s face it, the education system is already based on teaching the foundations first (like the alphabet and counting) before teaching reading and maths. However are these the correct foundations? If someone is unlucky enough not to learn these basics when they are “supposed to” they are disadvantaged, as all other subjects are taught through learners reading textbooks.

I only began to enjoy learning when I got to high school, when a whole array of much more complex subjects opened up to me. Although it may have helped that my parent’s persistence had finally got me “The Reading Centre” specialist help I really needed in the last few years of primary school.

Back to my bag message “Dyslexia Made Me, Society Tried To Stop Me” those first 4 to 5 years of primary school when I just couldn’t learn no matter how hard I tried definitely took their toll.

I have  achieved a BSc Honours degree. Some people may think I have had success and they may wonder why I have not carried it through to my career.

The thing is a child’s confidence and self-esteem can only take so much. Similar to some other people with dyslexia I seem to have a bit of imposter syndrome. That is, I am always concerned I will be discovered not to be “worthy” or “good enough”. I went off to primary school those first few days with no worries about learning, it was being there that gave me issues.

If society could be more open to difference (and if we could stop teaching our children that there is only one way to learn) perhaps we could ALL SHINE.

Possibly by starting from each person’s learning style we could tackle complex issues like: bullying, youth knife/gang crime, drug/alcohol misuse, prison overcrowding and homelessness.

Respect and freedom from fear could work miracles if they were only given a chance.

Doreen Kelly, Dyslexia Scotland Volunteer and Member