On Tuesday afternoon, I spent some time with a group of 13-15 year old students at the Thomas Clarkson Academy in Wisbech, teaching my very first schools' workshop.
I was so nervous about this workshop because I really wanted to create a session that was fun and interesting, while also helping the kids to better understand some of the concepts used in poetry. The lessons at this particular school are only fifty minutes long, so it was tough to think of some good games that would keep the class occupied, without the lesson feeling too rushed.
I needn't have worried though, as the whole thing went off without a hitch. The kids were absolutely incredible; really switched-on, engaged and a lot of fun to interact with. They also came up with some great examples of simile, based around their favourite colours. My personal favourite was the girl who came up with the simile 'as blue as a giraffe's tongue' - genius!
We then looked at the differences between simile and metaphor, and I asked the class to write about themselves using metaphor. I asked them to describe themselves in terms of an item of food, a school subject, an animal, and a genre of film. Once again we got some brilliant responses. The students were a little bit shy about sharing their writing, but I peered over a few shoulders while they were getting on with the tasks and I have to say, I caught sight of some really lovely poetry!
I was so pleased!
We rounded off with a little game about rhyming, and an exercise looking at creating collaborative poetry. I really wish I had more time to work with these kids, but luckily for me I've been asked back in February next year to do a prose workshop! I'd better get my thinking cap on to come up with some more writing games!
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On Thursday evening, we went down to the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences in Cambridge, to launch the Glass Cases and Curios booklet of poetry and artwork inspired by museums!
The launch night was so much fun, and I'm really grateful to the Sarah Hammond - the museum's administrator - and all the museum volunteers for their help and support on the night. The museum itself has a really traditional feel, with lots of glass cases and curios, as well as some fantastic dinosaur skeletons and interactive displays. It was exactly the right place to launch our publication!
It's well worth a visit too, if you're ever in Cambridge!
We started the show at 6pm with wine and nibbles. (I accidentally bought Bulgarian wine, so I'm not sure what that tasted like! It all went though, so I think it must have been ok!) I stood outside to greet the guests as they arrived. It had been a pretty stormy day, so everyone looked at little windswept, but it was really great to see that so many people had braved the elements in order to attend!
Once everyone had arrived, we settled down to enjoy a few short readings from the booklet by poets Pete 'Cardinal' Cox, Elaine Ewart, Caroline Gill, Pete Irving and J.S. Watts. I would have liked all our poets to have read their work at the event, but we didn't have enough chairs, and it would have been unfair to ask our guests to stand for such a long stretch. Plus, it's important to leave your audience wanting more, and we didn't want to give away all the lovely stuff in the booklet in one go!
It was really fantastic to meet many of the poets and artists who had contributed to the booklet, and we were really pleased that so many people joined us for the occasion, coming from as far afield as Ipswich, Norwich, and even London!
Everyone commented on the great quality of the printed booklets, so we must thank Ely Print Centre for their excellent and diligent service. Of course, a special thanks also go to artist and designer Max Bowman, who did a fantastic job on the cover design for the collection.
In the end, we sold almost fifty booklets and, along with the complimentary copies that we gave to each of the contributors, we managed to give out over sixty in total!
If you weren't able to make it to the event, but would like a copy of Glass Case and Curios - featuring the work of twenty-two talented poets and artists including writing from three local poet laureates - you can order online by contacting Karen Harvey on email@example.com The booklets are £4 each plus £1.20 postage and package, and can be paid for via cheque or postal order.
Finally, a big thank you to all the contributors who worked so hard on the poems and artwork within the booklet. Without their wonderful creativity, they would be no Glass Cases and Curios! Thank you to artists Max Bowman, Cyprian Garlikowski, Mandy Knapp, David Lewis, Adam Sheffield and Taymaz Valley, and to poets Andy Bennett, Miriam Brown, Cardinal Cox, Deb Curtis, Rani Drew, Elaine Ewart, Caroline Gill, Emily Hasler, Peter Irving, Teresa Mclean, Afrodita Nikolova, Roy South, John Thake, and JS Watts!
All photos of the Glass Cases and Curios event
courtesy of Karen Harvey
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