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Sunday, 20 October 2013

New Model Poems

I have just started an MA in Writing/Education Studies at Goldsmiths College, University Of London. Assuming I complete it this will be my third degree. As part of the MA I am training to be a 'Spoken Word Educator', which will involve teaching teens about Spoken Word poetry. As someone who works primarily with younger children, and as someone who is only fairly peripherally involved in the London Spoken Word scene (the odd gig here and there, but usually I'm too knackered after performing for up to six hours in schools), this will be an interesting challenge for me. To use a slab of the kind of corporate jargon that I loathe, I am looking forward to 'diversifying'.

The Spoken Word Educator programme was piloted last year by an American educator called Peter Kahn. Last week myself and my fellow MA students read a couple of poems by him, entitled 'What It's Like To Be Nervous (For Those Of You Who Aren't)', and 'What It's Like To Be A Chicagoan In London' (For Those Of You Who Aren't)'. Peter uses these as model poems in class, encouraging students to write their own poems using the format 'What It's Like To Be X (For Those Of You Who Are Not-X'. I have written a couple such poems. Here they are. (WARNING: The second one contains swearing. I have not done this frivolously. I would obviously have to check with teachers before doing it in school.)

What It’s Like Starting Your First Day Of School (For Those Who Don’t Remember)

It’s being wrapped up like a polar bear
in your fluffy blue coat, protecting you
in your new adventure.

It’s Honey Nut Loops in a Tupperware box
at snack time, and a Marmite sandwich
for lunch.

It’s your new teacher telling you
you’re grown up now, and Sarah crying
all day long.

It’s trying not to have an accident,
and a red beach-ball of pride in your chest
when you don’t.

It’s air rushing out of a balloon
at the end of the day, and a new balloon

tomorrow. 

What It’s Like To Get Out Of Bed When You’re Depressed

It’s the weight of the room
pressing down on your chest, and heaviness
holding hostages in your throat.
It’s light charging under your blinds
like an invading army, occupying you,
and birds cursing the day
with their cynical songs.
It’s vomit in your stomach and shit in your brain.
It’s bullying voices telling you to get up,
and a set of leaden limbs
unable to obey.
It’s your mum crying outside your room, wondering
what she’s done wrong; your dad slamming
the door on his way to work.
It’s hot acid shampoo in the shower,
searing into your head and shoulders;
old clothes hung like sackcloth
across your scarecrow bones.
It’s standing in a field with
the day an open chasm before you.
It’s having arms with no joints,
so you can’t get the fallen fruit. 

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