About I know I wish I will

Eastside is proud to be celebrating its 25 years of work in supporting thousands of young people across the country to develop their creative thinking through this spectacular project.  

Culminating on World Poetry Day – 21st March 2020, I know I wish I will  was due to host a live, 25 hour, continuous spoken word poetry marathon showcasing 808 young poets at the West End’s Criterion Theatre.  Regrettably, the live event was cancelled 4 days before lift off on Monday 16th March 2020 due to an escalation of Government Coronavirus measures. You can see the show programme here as we wanted to honour and thank all those who put so much hard work into it.

Instead Eastside honoured the work created through this national project by showcasing the I know I wish I will projects poems on social media – the Digital Stage.  Follow the link to be refreshed and inspired. 

History of the Project:

One year ago, on March 21st – World Poetry Day 2019, Eastside launched a massive programme of education and outreach to engage young people across the nation with the art form of the spoken word.  Seeking to find out what young people know about the world, what they wish for and what they will do to create change, Eastside artists worked across the country with our amazing partners with the aim of unlocking young people’s creative ideas and helping them create their own original spoken word poems.

An open competition followed in which thousands of 5 – 25 year-olds submitted their own original poems…we received well over 1000 entries from 3141 young poets representing Merseyside, Rotherham, Gloucestershire, Peterborough, Lincolnshire, London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, France, Spain and Nigeria to name but a few.

808 young people were selected to take over the stage of The Criterion Theatre for 25 hours of continuous spoken word poetry in an event that was to be live-streamed globally to mark World Poetry Day. 

Since Covid-19 our new challenge was to channel that energy into our Digital Stage Event

Stephen Fry – chair of the Criterion Trust who is partnering with Eastside and I know I wish I will – had this to say about the project: “Huge congratulations to all of you on achieving your place in the 2020 I know I wish I will poetry marathon. An event of this scale and significance has never happened before and as chair of the Criterion Theatre trust I am delighted that you will be joining us to take the stage and making your voice heard around the world. Wishing you a wonderful experience”.

Eastside are delighted to report that I know I wish I will to has been endorsed by UNESCO UK who said: “The project embodies many of the values and ideals of UNESCO, providing young people with an opportunity to access a sometimes less well represented aspect of culture.  It encourages them to express themselves when their voices might otherwise not be heard. The ‘I know I wish I will’ project is a great way for the UK to celebrate World Poetry Day on March 21st” – James Bridge, Secretary-General of The UK National Commission for UNESCO

Regional partners include: Grimm & CoMetalCheltenham FestivalsWriting On The WallTransported / Boston College / Lincoln University

All poems selected for the live event have now been published in a book.

This exciting project is made possible thanks to the generous support of Arts Council England, John Lyon’s Charity, The Criterion Theatre and our five expert regional partners and a host of additional partners. 

Why not join an amazing community of supporters who are helping Eastside to develop young people from across the UK –  Donate