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Saturday 26 December 2015

Personification Poem by Tommy, Year 7

I am Patron of Reading at Stalham High School in Norfolk. My role involves visiting the school a couple of times a year to perform and run workshops, often with Year 7, and occasionally involving children from local primary schools. During my last visit we worked on personification poems. I presented pictures of a number of objects, and asked pupils to write poems from the perspective of one of these objects. Some wonderful poems were produced, and I was particularly impressed with the following poem from the point of view of a key, by Tommy in Year 7:

I'm a Key by Tommy

My owner is a drug dealer
He gets me to hide them in the back.

I'm alone
The others were taken
That's why I stayed with him in his pocket.

I wanted to tell so badly
But I knew I would be punished
So I didn't
I kept it in
And that's when they came.

They took him
He threw me into the corner
Hopefully never to be found
But I glistened in the moonlight
I was taken
I begged him to let me go.

That's when I saw the others
Who were now scrap metal
So am I.

I saw light
I glistened
I knew everyone's dirty secrets
And I would open their doors
To reveal their lies.

I'm your worst nightmare
What am I?

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Feminist Poems With Year 8

I am Poet in Residence at a girls' secondary school. In Year 8 they have been learning about feminism, and I recently worked with some of the classes to create poetry around this theme. I was conscious not to 'mansplain' to them, or to go over the shoulds-and-shouldn'ts of the issue; instead, I was keen to discuss what feminism meant to them. Using this wonderful poem by Sojourner Truth as inspiration, students wrote their own poems. Here are a couple of interesting examples from the students I worked with:

I Can by Haleema
Be a famous mathematician,
With lots of awards.
Have a huge house and
work as a fireman.
I can
Be a scientist and dissect
animals and creatures.
Be a professional footballer
and play for famous clubs.
I can
Wear green and blue
tops with tracksuit bottoms.
Go fighting for my country
and put my life at risk.
I can
go to work as a plumber
whilst men stay at home and clean.
Get a degree in English
and move to a new city on my own.
I can.

Poem by Maryam

When I was a baby
It was all about cuteness
It was all about protection
It was all about me.
No one else but me.

Five years old and five times more strictness.
It was all about being careful,
Making sure I don’t bang into something.
It was all about learning how to write.
I could do it and I was only a little girl.

It came to a point when
I could do what I believed was called “anything”
I could dress how I wanted to
I could play whatever I wanted to
I could do “anything”.

Now it was a time
A time where I had to be extra careful
Outside in the REAL world
Whenever I could actually go out
I would always be with someone
Making sure nothing bad happens.

I am a girl.
I’m strong
I’m confident
I can take care of myself
I don’t need this whole overprotection thing
This thing when my parents would always be there
All the time.

Boys aren’t everything!

Image result for sojourner truth
Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)

Tuesday 8 December 2015


We’re Having a Party!

We’re having a party!
What can you see?
Bouncing balloons
and sparkly ribbons.

We’re having a party!
What can you hear?
toe-tapping tunes
and chuckling children.

We’re having a party!
What can you smell?
The flickering flame
of birthday candles.

We’re having a party!
What can you taste?
Sandwiches, cake
and plenty of sweets.

We’re having a party!
What can you feel?
The love and the hugs
of all of your friends. 

This poem can serve as a model for thinking about the five senses with KS1. Start by thinking of a scenario, which could be relevant to other things you may have been looking at in class - pirates, the seasons, sports, festivals etc. Next, think of a repeated phrase, to be used at the beginning of each stanza. Each stanza then discusses one of the five senses. Simple! This can be done as shared writing with younger children, or group or individual work for older ones, Enjoy!

Image result for children's party

Monday 30 November 2015

Idiom Poems - Workshop Idea (KS2/3)

My Baby Brother

My mum says
that my baby brother
is so cute
that she just wants
to eat him all up.

He doesn’t look
very tasty to me.
He smells mostly
of warm milk and sick,
with a side dish
of dirty nappy.

His fingers don’t look
nearly as nice
as fish fingers,
and his ears
aren’t as sweet
as ears of corn.

I’d rather eat
a chocolate button
than his bellybutton,
and his legs
can’t compete
with chicken drumsticks.

My mum says
that my baby brother
is so cute
that she just wants
to eat him all up.

I don’t understand that.
But I suppose, if I had to,
that I’d eat the cat.  

There are some very weird turns of phrase in the English language. Can you make a list of them? Some possible example are: cute enough to eat; raining cats and dogs; a different kettle of fish; cat got your tongue. Write a poem reimagining these idioms as literal truths. What would that kind of world be like? What problems would arise? You could also try to think up brand new idioms, and make a poem using these. Have fun!



  Image result for raining cats and dogs

Thursday 12 November 2015

Poems Inspired by Langston Hughes

Image result for langston hughes

At my weekly poetry lunch club I recently looked at Langston Hughes' poem 'Daybreak in Alabama' with a group of Year 10 and 11 students. The poem tackles Hughes' experience of racism in the Deep South, and details some of the ways in which he dreams it might be overcome. Using his poem as inspiration, I asked students to think about what they might create were they called upon to be the architects of some kind of new world or state of affairs. What follows is a couple of fantastic poems produced by the students, as well as my own piece which I shared with them.

When I Get To Be an Architect by Eman

When I get to be an architect
I’m going to delete one of the 7 wonders of the world
I’ll create my own
A brick jungle of its own
The tallest most gigantic building of them all
Looking down on inferior copper towers built
On the crushed dreams of the poor
I’ll create my own
Built to give hopes to the young
And the happiness of mum
When I get to be an architect
I’m going to delete one of the 7 wonders of the world
I’ll create my own

Daybreak by Sahana

When I get to be a vampire
I’m going to meet my favourite character
I’m going to take many hearts
Leaving nothing for the world
I’m going to fall in love
Get betrayed
And fall in my grave
I am going to be the darkest
Sinner the world has ever seen
I am going to wish I never changed
As I look back and see
I am going to show the world
What evil really is
When I get to be a vampire
I am going to realise my mistake
I am going to save the world
By sinning my soul.

Daybreak by Joshua Seigal

When I get to be an artist
I’m going to paint a picture
of a family eating
breakfast together.
I’m going to put cereal in it,
and coffee, and toast,
and big wide well-rested smiles.
I’m going to paint speech bubbles
filled with easy conversation,
and I’ll use the finest brush
for those subtle hints of love.
I’m going to paint the sun
knocking lightly on the pane,
and the trees shaking hands
with the morning.
When I get to be an artist
I’m going to rise from the bunk.
I’ll use the brightest colours
to paint over
the night.