Slow down, breathe easy, make a poem of your life. Don't let life rush by; reflect. Look for beauty and rejuvenate your soul.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Return of the Poetry Workshop

Back in October I wrote a post about how disappointed I was that my daughter's inter-school poetry workshop had been cancelled due to a lack of participants. I am thrilled to be able to tell you now that last week another day was held, this time with full support. So I take back everything I said last year about how our schools are letting young poets down!

I attended the day with my 10 year-old daughter, ostensibly to help the children, but really to gate-crash the workshop and get a few poem-writing tips.
The highly entertaining children's writer Valerie Bloom was our guiding light and she soon had a full classroom of unfamiliar primary children from six different schools confidently joining her in games and the creation of poetry.
Over the course of the day she taught the children to write three different types of poem.

  •  The Kenning - which describes an object by linking related nouns and verbs in rhyming couplets. The ending should reveal the creature, but I will leave you to guess what is described here:

Sky flyer
Song cryer
Dawn singer
Joy bringer

  • The List Poem - rhyming couplets of 4 words per line in which each word must be related to the words (only) either side of it. The final line should return us to the beginning:

Claw, creature, dragon, flight
Sky, sea, monster, fright,
Dark, cold, shiver, skin,
Bones, white, ghost, jinn,
Angel, blessing, joy, sadness,
Tears, rivers, drowning, madness,
Asylum, patient, anger, fight,
Claw, creature, dragon, flight.

  • A dream sequence poem - Valerie described a dream for the children to base their poem on, but ideally one would write of an actual dream. These poems have the freedom of following an unpredicatble dream-like narrative.

Interestingly I have written several poems in the past in response to waking from a dream. I remember very few of my dreams these days, but those I do recall often carry emotions or memories that I feel compelled to save in poetry. I will find you an example for another day.
My daughter enjoyed the day and was particularly taken with the list poems, beginning her second last night. These are not the type of poems I would usually write, but I found both the Kenning and the List poem excellent as exercises to play with words and make creative connections: vital practice for the poet.
Why don't you try your hand at one or both of them, as we did?



  1. Hi Louise, Thank you for your sweet, supportive comment on my blog! I am very interested in trying my hand at the poem types you so artfully showed us. I too want to express myself through the dream sequence poem as I aways have vivid dreams I would like to capture the essence of! I like the Kenning style as well. The list poem might prove too much for my jaded brain right now tho. LOL! Great post!

  2. I love it! And Flying Free below is just beautiful. I wanted to thank you for taking the time to go to House of Art and checking it all out. Thank you for your support, it really means a lot, xoxo

  3. Ok, I am not usually a poem writer but I have challenged myself to think of a kenning poem. I really enjoy yours! I was even thinking of mine this morning when I jumped in the shower. It may take a few showers to get one together but I will get back to you with one. Thanks for presenting me with this challenge!

  4. Hi Louise!

    I foun dyour lovely blog through an on-line firend Kim Ellery, we're taking a class together! I found your post about poetry really interesting - esp as it involved children (in a former life I was a primary school teacher!) I do love poetry too - and am a fan of Australian Bush Poetry - have you heard any?
    Have a lovely day,
    x Donna

  5. Hi Louise! Well if you want - have a look at this post: it has one of my favourite contemporary poems being read by a bush poet. It's called Turbulence and is a very funny poem about an Aussie ringer (stockman) who prefers horses to flying and finds himself in a predicament 30 000 feet up one day...
    Also some sites here:
    If you google bush poetry or Australian Bush poetry you'll find heaps. But my absolute favourite by far will always be The Man From Snowy River:

    Lovely to 'meet' you :) Hope you enjoy Turbulence ;)
    X Donna

  6. How wonderful about the workshop. Your poems are always so lovely to read.