POETRY FOR THE TOTALLY TERRIFIED
What were your experiences of learning poetry at school?
I don’t know about you but my experience of the dreaded poetry lesson at school was always a rather torturous affair. My memories are rather clouded nowadays but I distinctively remember the fear and humiliation of not being able to conjure up words quickly enough to appease my teacher.
I didn’t have the ability (at the time) to randomly pull from my brain – long, flowing prose like that of my very gifted peers. I definitely had the ideas but I didn’t have the ability to express myself. I therefore fell into the myth that poetry (like Shakespeare) was only for the posh or clever kids – of which I may add – I was neither!
There were a number of poets we learned about in school; all of them had very different and distinctive styles and approaches to poetry. What I did observe was that 99.9% of them were either – male; white or dead!
I remember the excitement of reading Spike Milligan for the first time. Spike was – dare I say it? Funny! It wasn’t until I got into my early thirties that I found such gems as:
Nick Toczek – The Dragon Who Ate Our School
Roger McGough – Mafia Cats
Michael Rosen – Chocolate Cake
Celia Warren – Chimpanzees in Dungarees
Benjamin Zephaniah – Pencil Me In
There are hundreds more I could mention consequently they taught me:
You could write a poem on any subject
The poem could be any length
It didn’t matter if it rhymed or not
The most important part being; that if the poem made you happy (as the author) well that was the main thing.
When encouraging children to learn poetry you only need to keep these four basic principles in mind. It allows freedom and encourages their creative to flow.
Another great tool for writing poetry is the use of Personification – ask the children
“What do the first six letters of personification spell?” ‘PERSON’
They love the idea of making inanimate items come to life; in others words giving non-living things ‘person-like’ qualities.
This does come with a health warning though! If personification is taught using the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century models it will invariably turn kids off! You know the sort of thing I’m talking about; where personification becomes entwined with simile and metaphor:
“Trees were dancing with the wind.”
“The cruel Easterly wind roared like a lion.”
“The Sun threw down his majestic rays of golden sunshine.”
To make it more fun and exciting use everyday examples.
If all the items of clothing in your wardrobe had a debate which one has the best job? The worst job? Think about a cake shop – who are the toffs? Which items are the down and outs. I’ll share some more examples and ideas in my next blog.
Sticking with the clothing theme my class thought a silk tie would have the best job as it is worn on special occasions and is on full view for all to see. Where as the title of the worst job goes to the pants (for obvious reasons) see the two examples below:
Personify the Tie
Pete the Dancing Pants.
I hope you enjoy them.
Cheers Lee & David (The Thought Weavers)
PERSONIFY THE TIE
“Oh my!” Sighed the tie,
suspended from the collar white.
“All alone, no friends have I,
to sit and chat with through the night.”
Then a voice came from beneath,
Twas the yellow polka dot handkerchief.
“I wish I were you instead of me,
you are on full view for all to see.”
“You are lofty like the rocket –
I am crumpled and stuffed in pocket.
You are bought as a forget-me-not,
I am cold, damp and
full of SNOT!”
PETE THE DANCING PANTS
Peter Pants began to dance
around the bedroom floor;
the washing basket all looked on
and the clothes they yelled for more.
Fifi French the Flirty shirt,
Whispered “Peter I love you thing.”
Vin the Vest was dead impressed.
and he was completely made of string?
Peter spun and ducked and dived
Then flew backwards in mid-air.
Ian tie said “I’ll have some o’ that”
and slithered from the chair.
Jim and Jock the tartan socks,
began to Rock and Roll.
But Jock the Sock says
“We’ll have to stop – I think we’ve got a hole!”
The Sponge and the Flannel did the ‘Cha, Cha Cha’
The Hand Towel the Boogaloo.
Pete gave a wink to the lady in pink
And said “Madam, how do you do?”
Pretty soon the party parted –
In walked a Super-star.
She was white, she was lacy and rather racy
Her name was Barbara Bra.
Barbara sauntered up to Peter
And grabbed him by his ‘Y’
She kissed his cheek, his knees went weak
Then he began to cry.
“Oh Barbara, not again –
this is getting beyond a joke.
I don’t want to dance – I’m an old pair o’ pants
and I think my elastic’s broke.”
David Anderson- © 09.12.05 (8)
Fantastic website if you are stuck for rhymes
Brilliant YouTube clip demonstrating the rhyming patterns within an Eminem song: https://youtu.be/ooOL4T-BAg0
Fantastic performance of ‘Chocolate Cake’ by Michal Rosen, demonstrating what one can do with poetry: https://youtu.be/7BxQLITdOOc