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:
- 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?