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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

IF ONLY - workshop idea + students' poems

If Only

people spoke of the living
like they speak of the dead.

Just imagine:
we would all go around declaring
how wonderful everyone else is;
how kind they are;
how, even in spite
of outward appearances,
their hearts are made of gold.

People would cherish urns
of dandruff and nail clippings;
forgive each other almost anything;
treat each bad word as sacrilege.
Everyone would go out of their way
to attend the birthday parties
of distant relatives, declaiming it
the right thing to do.

Just think:
living itself would become an achievement.
The news would be a rolling dispatch
of everyone who made it through the day,

and when they died
we’d realise
that they weren’t that great anyway.

by Joshua Seigal

In the light of the poem above, ask students to write out a list of their own 'if only...' statements. These could be as heartfelt or as whimsical as they wish. This could form a list poem in itself, or students could take one of the ideas and develop it further, imagining the consequences if their desired scenario came to fruition. Here are some interesting approaches taken by students in one of my workshops:

If Only (By Naqeebah, Year 11)

If only…
We were able to go back in time,
Like how they do in the movies.
Go back into our past
But only our own past.
Just imagine:
We could change the sad times
Into happy times
We could stop the pain
We could change our actions
If only we were able to
Go back in time
We could change our past.

If Only (By Omaima, Year 7)

If only I could make good wishes
If only I had friends like fishes
If only I was the best
If only my house was near the west
If only I could fly
If only I could see the entire sky
If only I could cover the east
If only I could have a ginormous feast
If only I was good at winning
If only I could make the earth go spinning
If only the world was only about me
If only I was the famous one to be
If only, if only
I don’t want to be lonely.