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POETRY WORKSHOP: I am metaphors


POETRY MATTERS!

Poetry is words dancing. Children of all ages love the music in language. We hear it in schoolyard chants and playful rhymes. Teenagers are inevitably drawn to popular music and lyrics. Many find their identity and their tribe through music and lyrics which speaks for them.

But most secondary teachers shy away from trying to guide students into writing poetry. Even when they are required to study the poetry of others. This is a shame because the results can be startling, and the time needed to set up and complete pieces of poetry are relatively small compared with other writing forms.

Through the teaching of poetry writing, teachers have a chance to introduce students to metaphor, simile, abstraction in many colours. They also have the opportunity to teach teenagers to listen to their writing, to hear rhythm, repetition, assonance, beat, emphasis and syllables. Crafting poetry teaches nuance, subtlety, ambiguity, economy and balance. Students discover the value in revisiting and editing their words.

Poetry is easily shared and displayed, wonderful to read aloud, and for less able, less confident English students, often the work they feel most proud of.

PART 1: Introducing metaphors

If you have time, it is wonderful to start this short unit by playing for students one or two favourite songs where the lyrics illustrate beautifully the power of metaphors.

We suggest “No-one is to Blame by Howard Jones”, but there are many equally accessible:

NO ONE IS TO BLAME Howard Jones

You can look at the menu but you just can’t eat You can feel the cushions but you can’t have a seat You can dip your foot in the pool but you can’t have a swim You can feel the punishment but you can’t commit the sin

And you want her and she wants you We want everyone And you want her and she wants you No one, no one, no one ever is to blame

You can build a mansion but you just can’t live in it You’re the fastest runner but you’re not allowed to win Some break the rules And live to count the cost The insecurity is the thing that won’t get lost

CHORUS

You can see the summit but you can’t reach it

It’s the last piece of the puzzle but you just can’t make it fit

Doctor says you’re cured but you still feel the pain

Aspirations in the clouds but your hopes go down the drain


CHORUS



BRAINSTORMING: a metaphor chart

Hand out a sheet or have students open a document you have prepared (See below). Explain that you are giving them 10-15 minutes to try to fill in the chart. Ask them to avoid over-thinking. Just go with what comes to mind. Leave a blank and return to any over which they feel blocked. While they do this, it is fun for you as leader to attempt your own on the board/screen.



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