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Tuesday 24 March 2015

Colours - workshop idea for KS2/3

I recently happened upon the poem 'Just Like' Me' by Lawan Mitchell, a 16-year-old African  American. The poem begins 'black describes me', and goes on to elaborate how. It is presumably partly about race, but it need not be read only in this way: perhaps there are lots of colours that could each describe different aspects of personality.

In the light of this poem, I wrote a piece, 'Colours', reproduced below. In the poem I thought more broadly about the different things colours can represent. With both of these poems in mind, students could think about which colours best represent them, and why.

Green describes me.
It is fresh and bright and vibrant.
It is a colour that breathes oxygen
into the universe.
Green is replete with the dawning
of possibilities.
It’s a new-born idea springing into life;
it’s the feeling of wet grass
in summertime.

Red describes me.
It is angry, bitter, bubbling.
It is a colour that flashes a frown
and gnashes its teeth.
Red is fighting to escape its skin,
desperate to punch, kick and maim.
It’s a wild tiger in a tiny cage;
it’s a toddler screaming
on a supermarket floor.

Yellow describes me.
It is pale, sickly, withering.
It is a colour that remains
when the spirit has left.
Yellow is a patient
in a hospital bed.
It’s the slow decay of blunted teeth;
it’s your clothes coming out the dryer,

Monday 23 March 2015

Mums - wonderful poems by Year 7 girls

Last week it was Mothers Day, and I worked with a class of Year 7 girls to create poems about their mums. I'd like to share two examples from the class, which I have chosen in part because I think they are both very interesting and heartfelt, and in part because of their contrast with each other, highlighting the broad range of styles and viewpoints in the class, especially with regard to the often complicated issue of family. Enjoy:

Poem for Mum by Tamia
When I see you I feel safe,
like nothing bad is going to happen.
Even though I don’t have a dad,
you’re my mum and dad.
Mum, when I smile at you,  you get cross.
Mum, when you look at me you say
I look like my dad,
and start hating me.
Mum, I promise I’ll make your favourite
morning pancakes, even though
I can’t keep that promise.
What I’m trying to say
is I love you.

Mum by Bushra
My mum changes her mind very often.
At first she says yes then she says no.
She is concerned about my grades, giving me a phone.
She’s even scared to give me pocket money
Cos she thinks I might not keep it safe.
My mum is concerned about my teenage year
Coming closer every day.

My mum makes me happy by letting me play on her phone.
She eats my salty cupcake as a nice treat at home.
She loves making clothes, sometimes for me
Or the whole family.
She knows she isn’t the best, but she shall be.

She likes making food from Italian or French cuisine.
Madalines with hot chocolate sauce and pizza with mozzarella.
She doesn’t like ruining clothes, she’d rather give it to charity.
She is my mum, the best she could ever be.

My mum likes rice with curry, with a salad as a side.
She loves pudding, but never eats in our sight.
She is the person who made me like maths.
She is the one who gave birth to me.
I am so thankful, and happy Mothers Day!

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Loneliness - fab poem written by Year 7 student

In 2013 I had an article published in TES, in which I discussed an activity whereby emotions are described using each of the five senses. I used this activity in a Year 7 workshop today, and it resulted in some fantastic, intriguing poetry. The following poem, by Meryy, I found especially interesting: it uses repetition, but it does not stick rigidly to the formula, veering off instead down interesting vistas. It was written in a short space of time so could perhaps do with a bit of editing. Nonetheless, I think Meryy can be very proud of what she has achieved:

Loneliness by Meryy, Year 7

It’s like your food not travelling through your throat.
It’s like a lollipop with no sweetness.
It’s like ice cream with no taste.
It’s like a tree with no leaves in the middle of a forest.
It’s like a universe with no living species.
It’s like a paper without a pen
and a pen without words.
It’s like a face with no wrinkles.
It’s like a rubber all by itself.
It’s like a hand with no watch
and a heart with no beat.
It’s like a cliff with no ending.
It’s like a body with no soul.
It’s like a child with no smile,
I see a story with no cover.
It’s like a seaside with no squeals.
It’s like a boy crying.
I can hear the voices of laughter spurting out
like vomit.
It’s like a door being smashed
wishing that it will never open again.
It’s like a rose with no smell,
like rotten food being chucked away.
It’s like air dirtied by the words that get spat out.
It’s like a smell, a touch, a sound, a taste, a sight

of nothing. 

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Geographical Personification Poems with Year 7

I recently worked with a Year 7 geography class to inject a bit of poetry into what they have been studying. I shared my poem Remembering with them, in the light of which I got them to write personification poems based on a geographical feature of their choice - a great idea form a cross-curriclar link. I didn't explicitly ask them to write riddle poems, but these are what often emerged. Here is a selection of poems from the class.

I Am… by Zayna
I am a place which is pitch black
when you enter my mouth.
My mouth is full of wet
hard rocks.
You use me for shelter.
You can feel the
cold breeze coming
from outside my mouth –
it stays wide open
every day, every
month every year
and never closes.
It remains open.
Always will.
What am I?
I am a cave!

Jamaica by Ebony

I am a tropical crayon, with an exotic zing.
I am a juicy pineapple that’s full of colours,
With carnivals every day going pop, snap, crackle,
Boom, clash and bang.
I have a juicy flavour to explode.
My colours are a as bright as a baboon’s butt!
What am I?

Volcano by Nishat

If you ever drop anything into me
it’s gone forever!
You better not come close or
I’m a ticking time bomb, going to explode
I can never be defused.
I can’t be put out.
I am like a witch’s magical pot,
where she brews fire and
the sun together.
I am a water bottle
filled with fire.
There are lots of me in the world
From Canada to Japan.
You’ll see me scattered everywhere.
I will shoot out drops
of excruciatingly painful fire.
So I reiterate.
Don’t come close or else…


Tornado by Athira

I am a huge monster,
swirling, swallowing
people, objects, animals.

I am mists of fog surrounding
my path and blocking them
to not let them escape. I am a beast,
a cruel one, menacing to my prey
and circling it making them feel
as dizzy as it can get.

I am a weather, the strongest one of all,
I grow and grow like a black hole
Which sucks anything in my reach.
I am one which doesn’t condone.
I am a tornado…

Sunday 1 March 2015

'What If', poem by Giacomo, Year 6

Last week I had a wonderful visit to St John's Walham Green primary school in Fulham, running workshops with their KS2 classes. In Year 6 we wrote poems based on my piece 'Not A Care in the World'. In the light of this poem, the students wrote about their own fears. I don't want to say much more, other than to share this frankly breathtaking poem by a boy named Giacomo.

What If... by Giacomo, Year 6

What if when I’m older I fail
What if when I’m older I don’t have
any money
What if when I’m older I get lost
and become homeless
What if when I’m older my wife
and children die in a fire and my
house has gone
what if when I’m older
my body gets cancer
what if when I’m older
I’m forced to fight a war
What if I’m in Afghanistan
And get killed at a firing squad
What if when I’m older
I never get married and live alone

What if I could stay a child.