World Poetry Day (21 March each year) celebrates and promotes the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry worldwide. The day was declared an official observance day by UNESCO in 1999. But as many countries already had established traditional National Poetry Day’s around October time (in UK 2 October 2014), this worldwide celebration receives very little publicity in those countries, including the UK. But I say, the more poetry days, the merrier.
You could celebrate World Poetry Day in your school by learning about poems from different cultures, including from pupils’ own cultures. Or investigate different forms of poem, such as the Japanese Haiku or the Arabic Ruba’i.
Here are some teaching resources online that you may find useful:
Bringing a writer, poet, illustrator or storyteller into your school is a great way to inspire children and bring reading to life. The Book Trust, who organise Children’s Book Week, which is this week, have some tips on their website with simple steps for planning your event http://www.booktrust.org.uk/programmes/arranging-an-author-visit/
But reading is for every day not just special weeks so the same principles apply for any time of year. Bringing in a guest writer/performer, who can give the kids and teachers a boost of energy and enthusiasm for reading and writing, is well worth the price.
Here’s the sort of day I have when I do a day workshop in a school. Before a workshop I usually perform some of my poems (some with guitar and participation) and then give writing ideas based on what they’ve heard me do. This can result in poems for the page and/or performance.
Some are very simple – I read one, for example, (When To Cut Your Hair) which uses each day of the week and show how that can be used for any subject. For example, using football:
When To Play Football
Play football on Monday Score a goal
Play football on Tuesday Fall down a hole
and so on.
Another I read (they join in with this) is Brilliant, which begins
Today Mum called me brilliant and that’s just how I feel
I’ll run a race I’m bound to win I’ll take up golf Get a hole in one
Because today Mum called me brilliant so that’s what I must be
I give ideas and examples of how they can use this structure, like this:
Today I’m feeling noisy So that’s what I will be
I’ll run up the stairs And stamp on the floor I’ll run back down And slam the door
Because today I’m feeling noisy So that’s what I will be
I use simple choruses and repetition during the performance and show how these can easily be incorporated in their own poems, if they want to write something that is for performance.
I do find, that having heard me, they pick up the ideas very quickly, and those who need less help can use my ideas if they want to, but also have the opportunity to go their own way. And there’s scope for writing funny and serious poems.
If there are any classes where the teacher would prefer to have a go at a class poem, we can do that too. I often use guitar on the class ones and we can usually come up with a finished poem in about 30 minutes.
Usually teachers jot down my examples based on 3 or 4 of my poems and then discuss them back in the classroom.
I hope the advice on the Book Trust website and the ideas I have given here will encourage some schools to book a writer. If you are interested in booking me, please do get in touch.
A big thank you to Northlands Primary School, Rugby for delaying World Book Day by 24 hours. Car trouble prevented me from getting there for the official event and, just like that, the school happily moved my visit to the following day.
As the photograph illustrates, on a snowy day the welcome couldn’t have been warmer.
I worked with all age groups and we had a brilliant get together before school ended to listen to new poems written and performed by the children. It was fantastic that we were joined by many parents for that.
Thanks again to the school for looking after me so well and producing some great poems.
I had a brilliant day in Chester at Oldfield Primary School who invited me to work with them on a special poetry day for World Book Day. After a very early start and long drive the warm welcome I received was, itself, welcome.
I saw lots of Wallys and discovered that Snow White teaches there. The staff (as you’ll see from the photo) were a colourful crowd and the kids were equally impressive.
They were great to perform to and the workshops produced some wonderful work which was shared at the end of the day.
James Read (y4 I think) wrote a poem in my honour. Although modesty forbids me from publishing the whole thing it ends like this…
Read his poems on Friday and you’ll be glad.
Read his poems on Saturday, then repeat them to your dad.