Spare a thought for all the hardworking poets on World Poetry Day 21 March

Man at desk with title text It's a tough job being a poet

Tough

It’s a tough job being a poet.
I’m surprised it’s not better paid.
Perhaps there should be guided tours of workshops
so non-poets can see how poems are made?

There’s no respite if you’re a poet.
You’re working all the time.
You have to get on it if there’s a call for a sonnet.
And people expect you to rhyme.

It’s more demanding than being a surgeon.
It’s harder than digging a road.
We deserve much longer holidays than teachers.
It can be stressful writing an ode.

We sometimes work until lunchtime
if we need to complete a quatrain.
Yes, it’s a tough job being a poet
but you’ll never hear us complain.

Remember a poet can be an enthusiastic inspiring addition to your classroom all year round, not just for World Poetry Day. If you’d like to know what I can do in your school, please contact me.

World Poetry Day: 21 March every year

World Poetry Day CC-BY Karen Cropper

The Day

It opens daily.
The day.
You could visit.
Be part of it.

Or, better still,
why not be there
at the start of it
and stay till
it’s over.

No, no, I’m not
the host of it.
I’m just here, like you,
hoping to make
the most of it.

Bernard copyright1

Poetry’s Not Just For World Book Day, It’s For Life!

It was on the news - more poetry is needed!
It was on the news – more poetry is needed!

I am very pleased to be visiting a school in East Yorkshire on World Book Day and some Manchester schools for the rest of the week, but I had so many enquiries for World Book Day week that I had to turn bookings down. Frustrating for me and the schools concerned.

It made me think to write a blog post to say that poetry is not just for World Book Day (March 5th) nor just for World Poetry Day (March 21st), not even just for National Poetry Day (October 8th). I’d be more than happy to visit your school any day of the year (during term time, of course!).

Consider the benefits:

  • You’ll be getting ‘a real live poet’ – a specialist who knows his craft (and plays guitar!).
  • Someone who can generate a sense of fun with words.
  • Someone who can motivate even reluctant writers to write and give them the confidence to stand up at the end of the workshop and perform a new poem they can be proud of.

It’s not just me that thinks poetry should have a place in schools all year round. Elena Aquilar makes a good case in this blog post: “Five Reasons Why we Need Poetry in Schools”. She says “Poetry promotes literacy, builds community, and fosters emotional resilience. It can cross boundaries that little else can.” Read more

And the following benefits of reading poetry for older students are given in a blog post on synonym.com:

  • Improves Verbal Skills and Memory
  • Improves Critical Thinking
  • Develops Empathy and Insight
  • Encourages Engagement with other Art forms

Read more

So if you are a teacher looking for ideas for World Book Day, I hope you come away with the idea you could do the same kinds of activities on other days too.

World Poetry Day – Friday 21 March 2014

Image of map with scrabble letters spelling World Poetry Day
CC-BY Karen Cropper http://www.flickr.com/photos/dentonpotter/11590533916

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:

To book me to visit your school for the day, see Contact page.

 

Invite a poet to your school for Children’s Book Week 7-11 October 2013

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/

Illustration by Quentin Blake
Children’s book week 7-11 October

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.

World Poetry Day 21st March 2012

March 21st is
World Poetry Day
which must mean
everyone will be
reading, writing, performing,
listening to

poetry

all

day

on this day.

Won’t they?