Tag Archives: Workshops

Two Sides of the Severn 2

With four rather marvellous collaborative class poems completed by Much Wenlock Primary School (South of the Severn) and Redhill Primary School (North of the Severn), I went back in to work with the children on creating individual poems.  We did this by using their original Poem Notes, made outdoors, plus prompted writing I’d done with them after their trips – and then we developed these ideas to create tankas.  Some drafts below:

Meantime, when they weren’t working on their tankas, the children were making huge poetry collages with artist Emily Wilkinson.

MW Workshop4 + art (10)

 

RH Wshop3 5VK (10)

and then we wrote up the tankas onto postcards, and shared them –

Two Sides of the Severn has been developed and supported by Clore Poetry  and Literature Awards, the Arts Council and the Trustees of Wenlock Poetry Festival.

Two Sides of the Severn 1

Since Christmas I’ve been working on Two Sides of the Severn, a project funded and managed by Wenlock Poetry Festival to help primary school children enjoy, access and create poetry.  The project will also assist the established poetry festival in Shropshire to develop and encourage young audiences, and it’s funded through a Clore Poetry and Literature Award.

mw-y5-trip-13feb-9The power plant was far, at night, red-eyed
like a robot when you were small.

During Two Sides of the Severn I’ve introduced children from two primary schools to the work of A E Housman, Mary Webb and my own poems about Shropshire, before setting off outdoors for the children to create their own poetry by responding to place.

The schools are in Much Wenlock (south of the Severn) and in Telford New Town (north of it).  The schools are governed by different local authorities, and wouldn’t normally work together, so it’s been an innovative collaboration with new experiences for the children, their teachers and the Poetry Festival.

With the children and their teachers, I walked in woods on both sides of the Severn, and they wrote their Poem Notes, which we used for writing once we were back in the classroom.

It’s been a real joy going outside in the winter with the children, who really rose to the occasion and created marvellous collaborative poems.  Here’s a few glimpses of what we’ve been doing so far.  The words below the photos are taken from the children’s collaborative poems.

rh-trip-16feb17-10-cropTrees flickered like candles on my birthday.

 

dscf3735A scarlet elfin cup grows on a branch of pure love.

 

rh-trip-16feb17-13Later that day I saw blue wellingtons that smelt like violets.

 

rh-trip-16feb17-12What wasn’t there to see was the River Severn.
What wasn’t there to see was foxes, but I could smell them.

Now we’re moving on to writing individual short poems, and then we’ll be working on ways to perform the collaborative poems to an audience – one school to the other.  And then finally there’ll be a proper, full-on performance with a big audience, lights and raked seating!

 

 

In which #Pen2Mic goes to #NAWE2015

Durham lights

Lumiere at Durham in shiny rain

Just home from this year’s NAWE Conference in Durham, a whirlwind of exciting ideas and interesting people passionate about writing, education and imagination.  Returning on the train last night I agreed with Liz Hyder (@LondonBessie) that it could not have taken only three days. More like a week.

This year Liz and I took our new workshop Pen To Mic, up to Durham for the Conference.  The point of Pen To Mic is that workshoppers write a new poem, edit it, prepare it for performance, learn microphone skills, and then perform their work to the rest of the group, so they all become each other’s audience.  All in 90 minutes.  We think 2 hours would work better!

Pen To Mic was scheduled for 9am on Sunday morning (which took a fair bit of coffee to counteract) and we were expecting a diminished band of sleepy workshoppers.  Imagine our surprise when 22 people arrived.

What made it work of course, was that we had such a skilled group, who knew what they were doing, and really took part with generosity and gusto.  Thank you everyone for your lovely feedback!

Here’s how it went:

me leading Pen to Mic

The group at work, writing their poems in response to prompts

Pen2Mic reading to wall

Reading to the Wall, a vital part of the workshop

Pen2Mic reading to wall2

Individual microphone coaching

Pen2Mic performing

And – the performance to audience

Pen2Mic performing 2

The memorable performance of a great poem that ended with a one-word sentence: ‘Damn.’