Review of Hannah Lowe

Posted on: 29 April 2022 by Talia Stillwood in Liverpool Literary Festival 2023

Hannah Lowe

Hannah Lowe is a poet and memoirist who writes beautifully about her life as a teacher and how she was constantly learning from the experiences of the children she taught, which in turn contributed to her life as a writer, teacher, and individual. Hannah discussed her new book ‘The Kids’, a collection of poems in sonnet form that address her life as a teacher and the learning journey she faced.

Discussing her life and career, she expressed her love for teaching and the intimacy involved in the classroom, both the triumphs and the failures of it. She chose the sonnet form to exemplify this life of teaching, choosing a form that places the images of a classroom on the page, creating a light and elevated poem. The sonnet form also highlights her aim to exemplify British culture, whilst discussing the lack of inclusivity, and difficulties with identity within this culture.

Hannah described writing her poetry collection as a memoir of the experiences she learned during teaching, discussing how she had moments of discomfort and revelation throughout. Through teaching, her eyes were opened to the extreme issues of class, race, and gender, choosing to teach and also write poetry, in order to reshape London through the lives and experiences of the children at the school, often from lower classes or who underwent racial struggles. Interestingly, Hannah described the inner conflict she had when writing her collection, discussing the questioning of ethics she felt from telling other stories, whilst simultaneously feeling a desire to tell these stories to educate those reading them.

From her heartfelt readings and discussion, Hannah engaged and moved the whole audience, causing all of us I’m sure, to leave the hall asking ourselves questions about learning and educating through life and through other people’s experiences. It feels a pleasure to have been able to listen to her speak about her life and her incredible words and poetry.