Featured
Posted in Introduction

Welcome to Poetry Roundabout!

Hello! I’m Liz Brownlee, National Poetry Day Ambassador! What’s on the poetry roundabout? We have had a series of funny poems to help give a little laugh to those in isolation, with or without children home from school. There are also empathy poems, poetry videos and of course, crafty poetry projects! On the wider site there are interviews with poets and poetry-writing ideas. Thank you so much to @mrs_darl teacher for the window to pop us in, and @chriswhitepoet for my little cartoon me and Lola! Welcome!

Posted in Poetry Art and Craft

National Poetry Day – Vision, and a Firework Poetry Craft Idea

This year’s National Poetry Day word is VISION! If you are a school you can sign up to the NPD Newsletter so you can be first to hear about all the amazing lesson plans, poems, a schools toolkit to plan your National Poetry Day, and all sorts of give-aways such as posters and badges, and exciting opportunities.

Here is my first VISION poem. It is about fireworks – I don’t like fireworks that bang as they scare birds and horses and other farm animals, our cat used to be terrified every firework night, and my assistance dog also trembles all evening. I’m a big fan of SILENT fireworks which all VISION and no violence, so that is what my poem is about!

Read my poem, and then you can follow the instructions to write your own firework poem and decorate it with some crafty-firework fun!

 

A Silent Vision

 

Shooting to space in the freezing night air

we wait in suspense as they fly

then in a splash of colour and light

they burst into being in the sky

 

a theatre of sparkles and spangles they flash

reflected as stars in our eyes

we marvel and wonder, we ooh and we aaah

as we turn up our faces and sigh

 

there are streamers and twinkles and lingering sprinkles

a sky full of flare and surprise

and then they’re just ghosts in a cloud of white smoke

which melts into darkness – goodbye!

 

Liz Brownlee

 

So would you like to write a firework poem? My poem above rhymes – but this poem is not going to rhyme. YOU are going to be the firework – you will write the poem from a firework’s point of view.

Your first line will describe what you can hear as you wait. Think of what is happening – a bonfire, people watching, sparklers, toffee apples for sale, people trying to keep themselves warm, chatting etc. This is my first line:

The bonfire flames lick and spit through wood

Your second line describes the anticipation and excitement; you will use a simile – you feel ‘as excited as’, or ‘excited like’.  This is my second line:

I’m as excited as a shaken fizzy drink 

Your third line uses another simile to describe your flight through the air. This is my third line:

until I whizz through dark like a shut umbrella

Your fourth line describes what happens next – this is my fourth line.

and open into the sky as a thousand glittering stars!

You have finished your poem! Here is mine, written out:

 

Firework

The bonfire flames lick and spit through wood

I’m as excited as a shaken fizzy drink

until I whizz through dark like a shut umbrella

and open into the sky as a thousand glittering stars!

Liz Brownlee

 

You can write your poem on a piece of paper, and draw fireworks, or you can make some fireworks from coloured paper like this – read all the instructions first so you have everything you need and someone handy to help:

Get a square of coloured paper and fold it so it is a triangle:

Fold that triangle in half so it is a smaller triangle:

Then you have to fold this triangle in from both sides so that it folds into thirds, like this – you may need help at this stage:

When you have done that the triangle has two little sticky-out bits:

On one side there is a straight line – cut a straight line across that line so the sticky-out bits come off.

Now you are left with another triangle:

Hold your triangle so the open end is at the top:

And cut into the near edge to make curved triangle shapes making sure you do not cut too near the tip of the triangle on the left there or go TOO near the opposite edge. Cut into a point at the top. You can draw in pencil to plan where to cut if you like – I did. This can be hard if the paper is thick – I used origami paper. Get someone to help if it is hard, as the cutting has to be quite precise.

Then very carefully open up your paper. It should look a bit like a firework opening in the sky.

You can leave it like that or, like I did, you can carefully cut through where the pattern joins, except in the middle, to make it look more firework-like.

I then did it all again using a smaller square of contrasting colour.

You now have fireworks to put on your poem paper:

Draw four pencil lines with a ruler as shown on a piece of paper and write your words along them in pencil – try to keep the poem in the bottom half of the paper.

Then write over the poem in ink, rub out the lines, and staple or glue your ‘fireworks’ on the top – turn your paper up the other way, and voila, your firework poem is complete!

Posted in Poetry Competition

Covid10 Poetry Competition Winners!

Congratulations to the winners of the Covid19 Poetry competition, shortlisted by me, and judged by the wonderful Roger Stevens of PoetryZone!

As usual the standard was very high!

The three main first prizes of hardback poetry books go to:

Abhinaya Bahirathan, aged 10, for her wonderful poem The School of Emptiness, containing sighing corridors and weeping stationery. Fabulous Abhinaya!

 

The School of Emptiness

 

In the school of emptiness I can see

Stationery weeping for children to use them

The books on the shelves stare uncomfortably at the ground

 

In the school of emptiness I can hear

The loneliness of the corridors sigh sadly

The head teacher’s office looks unhappily at the door

 

In the school of emptiness I can feel

The walls crying softly for their children

The trays in the lunch hall waiting patiently for delicious food

 

In the school of emptiness I can smell

The emptiness of the playground

The vast emptiness of the assembly hall

 

In the school of emptiness I can taste

The sadness of the certificates  that have  not been given out

The unhappiness of the school closure

 

© Abhinaya Bahirathan

 

Samuel Arthur, aged 10, for his excellent Covid19 Abecedarious Poem. It is much harder than it looks to write one of these! Congratulations, Arthur.

 

Covid19 Abecedarious Poem

 

About three months ago the world changed

Because of the

Corona Virus, which has

Damaged lives, families and companies, affecting

Everyone, and restricting all of our movements.

Friends can only meet up online or on the phone. We’ll be

Glad to properly say

“Hello!”

I miss my friends and sports, it’s no

Joke though, as people are dying.

“Keep safe!” they say,

“Look after yourself and your family, and

Make the most of every moment.”

No one is safe

On this planet.

People can enjoy spending time with their family in

Quarantine without

Rushing about like normal.

So stay inside and be safe.

Take the time you have together and

Understand the dangers in this

Very scary time.

Wash your hands especially well and use

eXtra soap to get rid of the germs.

You need to keep safe in your own

Zone.

 

© Samuel Arthur

 

And lastly Jacob Nicholas, 10, with his lovely poem The Rainbow and his skilful use of rhyming – never using a forced rhyme. Well done, Jacob.

 

The Rainbow

 

School is shut and I miss my family and friends,

I am bored, I am lost, will this ever end?

“We have so much to be grateful for,”

Says my mum one sunny day.

“We live amongst beautiful countryside,

And have a garden in which to play.”

We go for a walk, to get some fresh air,

But I’m not in the mood, I don’t want to be there.

My sister is chattering and she is really annoying me,

“But you love me dearly!” she says cheekily.

The road is still and quiet. The sky is too.

There are no cars or planes. How can we go to where we want to?

There is no school, there are no day trips or holidays,

I’m just at home doing schoolwork and there is too much time to sit and laze.

We walk past my school and it stands still and empty,

When I suddenly spy a rabbit and it looks at me gently.

Our walk carries on, it shows no sign of ending,

But then I spot a rainbow sign, a message of hope it is sending.

I stop for a moment, I need to stop and think,

Is my mum really right? I look up and blink.

The sky is bright blue, the sun is shining brightly,

The flowers are in bloom and the lambs are dancing lightly.

I then turn to mum and I quietly say,

“How lucky we are to be safe and well today.”

 

© Jacob Nicholas

 

And seven second prizes go to:

Lilly Nolan, 10, with her thoughtful poem. Lovely description, ‘delirious blue’, Lilly.

 

The Small Things

 

Before all this, I could

Lay upon golden grains of sand,

Glide along the deep, delirious blue,

Climb across limpet-spread rocks.

 

Before all this, I could have

A warm, comforting hug

From my old, loving grandad.

 

Before all this, I could

Laugh with my friends, while

Swinging in the playground, while

Dawdling, waiting for the school bus –

During lockdown

The only way to see a loved one

Is on a screen.

 

Before all this,

I think I took

The small things

For granted.

 

© Lilly Nolan, 10

 

And Iestyn Preddy, 11, for these wonderful descriptive images such as ‘casting dandelion clocks’ .

 

Things I Didn’t Know I Loved

 

I didn’t know that I loved the turn of a page

Whilst sat on an uncomfortable plastic chair

Neither did I know I adore the satisfaction of disrupting nature,

Casting dandelion clocks with their parachute-like seeds,

Floating through the air.

 

I never thought I’d miss the lessons of art,

Even though I can’t make a page explode with colour,

Explode with imagination, explode with detail.

I never, ever thought I’d miss even my family,

Even though we talk all the time,

I still feel a longing.

 

I thought I would miss the weekly games of football,

But it turns out I don’t, I miss other things.

I definitely thought that I would long for a proper maths lesson,

But it turns out I don’t, I miss other things.

 

But the most important thing I miss is

 

SCHOOL

 

© Iestyn Preddy, 11

 

Summer Janssens – well done Summer, we loved this detailed description of the sounds and sights in your school life, they really brought your poem alive!

 

School Life Before Covid19

 

Listening to the scribbling sound when we do our work,

Listening to the tweeting of the birds in our playground,

Listening to the munching noise when children eat apples at break,

Listening to the lovely voice of Miss Welch when she is teaching.

Missing my school, my teachers and my friends,

Missing my school life before Covid-19.

 

Playing basketball with my friends during PE lessons,

Playing fun games with Miss Harris at Sunshine Club,

Playing Hangman with a bunch of friends at golden time,

Playing Hide and Seek without getting lost in the playground.

Missing my school, my teachers and my friends,

Missing my school life before Convid-19.

 

Looking at the sugary doughnuts afterschool in Krispy Kreme,

Looking at the beautiful butterflies fluttering in the Prayer Garden,

Looking at the colourful posters hanging in up in the corridors,

Looking at the shimmering trophies on the shelves,

Missing my school, my teachers and my friends,

Missing my school life before Covid-19.

 

© Summer Janssens, 7

 

Euan Cameron-Mitchell – excellent use of smell to conjure a place, well done.

 

Quarantine

 

I didn’t know I’d miss the warm food smells of the school canteen

and the comfy pillow like the smell of the car on a long journey.

I didn’t know I’d miss the taste of my fresh packed lunch and a

warm Waitrose chocolate chip cookie.

I didn’t know I’d miss the sound of Fizz playing with her doggy friends

and the screams of school playtime.

I didn’t know I’d miss the sight of cars flying by on a busy road

and my friends’ friendly faces.

I didn’t know I’d miss the touch of the metal chain ropes when sitting on a swing

and my grandparents’ hugs.

 

© Euan Cameron-Mitchell, 9

 

Carys Davies, 10 –  a wonderful wistfulness in this poem, Carys, and spare description such as ‘the splash on rocks at Angle’. We all know you mean the sea, it doesn’t have to be mentioned.

 

One Day

 

I didn’t know I’d miss the shouting at dinner time,

The deafening squeal of children.

I didn’t know I loved the boiling hot sand on the beaches,

Trembling across the shining gold, burning my feet.

Who knew that I’d long to sit by granny,

Chatting about my day?

I never thought I’d miss begging for ice cream,

Listening for the ringing of the ice cream van.

 

But I don’t miss the sudden shout, calling

WAKE UP!!! at seven in the morning.

And I don’t miss the many cars,

Rumbling up and down the road.

Nor do I miss the trudge around Tesco,

On a rainy afternoon.

 

Oh, one day

I will hear the splash on rocks at Angle,

I will smell a juicy burger heading my way,

I will stroke the fur of Rocky,

The new poodle.

I will taste fresh raspberries from the hedgerow,

And I will see my cousins once again…

One day.

 

© Carys Davies, 10

 

Ria Burton, 11 – very nice feeling of the freedom that is still there, waiting, in the culminating lines of this poem, Ria – ‘the gannets will keep on diving’.

 

Things I Long For

 

I didn’t know I loved the sound of lunch time bickering,

The little bits of chat catching in my ears.

I didn’t know I loved the taste of chlorine in my mouth,

Lingering long after lessons at the pool.

I never thought I’d miss the endless maths session,

The numbers speaking to me in a weird language.

I never thought I’d miss the lumbering school bus,

Its suspension always seemingly broken.

Who knew that I’d long for the ringing of the raspy bell,

Signalling the end of break?

But as I long to set eyes upon my friends,

I know the clouds will blow past

The gannets will keep on diving

and we’ll have these moments again.

 

© Ria Burton, 11

 

Arthur Davies – great close attention to the detail of a school day in your poem, Arthur – ‘The clunking of chairs and tables colliding’. Something we don’t really notice, let alone as something to be missed!

 

Things I Didn’t Know I Loved

 

I didn’t know I loved looking for a café in a small country town,

The comforting texture of fish and chips.

I didn’t know I’d miss the sound of pastries at dinner time,

And the cheering sound of lunchboxes opening.

I never thought I’d miss the annoying talking at the back of the class,

The clunking of chairs and tables colliding.

I didn’t know I loved sitting on benches,

with sparrows chirping in my ear.

I never knew I loved sitting on Granny’s old, patched couch,

With Pixie laying on my knee.

Although I miss hugging Granny,

I know that the benches will stay

And so will the fish and chips.

One day we will have them

Once again.

 

© Arthur Davies, 11

 

Huge congratulations to all our winners! Your books should soon be on their way.

Posted in Poetry Art and Craft, Poetry Fun!

Writing a Moon Poem and Hanging it on a 3D Moon!

Today I’m going to guide you to write a poem about the moon – this can be written out onto paper or a disc of card and hung up, or written onto a 3D moon to hang as a mobile!

This is a circular poem – the first line is the same as the last line, and on the mobile it IS the same line. If you write it correctly, it doesn’t matter where you start in the poem, it will still make sense.

Start every line with a capital letter. Do not use rhyme.

You will be writing your poem from what is known as ‘the first person’ perspective. That just means you are writing as if you ARE the moon. You only use words like ‘I’ and ‘My’ and ‘Me’. Your first line (and last line!) is:

Because I am the moon

Your second line starts ‘I am the colour’ – try and think of interesting, unusual, or surprising things that are the same colour as the moon. My second line is:

I am the colour of cobwebs and smoke

Your third line begins ‘My mountains’. This line will be a lie. The mountains will do something that mountains cannot really do. My third line is:

My mountains tell me stories

Your fourth line begins ‘My secrets can be found’. This line is also a lie. Try and think of the most wonderful, unusual, exciting, amazing place the moon’s secrets might be found. My fourth line is:

My secrets can be found in silver coins

Your fifth line starts ‘I wish’. What ambition might the moon have? Think about what might be exciting to you if you were the moon.

I wish I was a shooting star

Your sixth line begins ‘I’m sad’ – the moon might be lonely all on its own in space. It has no air, no water, no plants or animals. Because there is no air, there is no sound, because sound waves use air to travel though. Think about being the moon, and decide what you would miss the most. This is my sixth line:

I’m sad I cannot hear Earth’s songs

Your seventh line starts ‘I dream’. What would the moon dream about? Perhaps another of those things she does not possess? Maybe there is something she would like to do, or try, or someone/something she would like to meet? My seventh line is:

I dream of being kissed with clouds

Your eighth line begins with ‘My seas of dust hide’. What extraordinary thing might the moon’s dust hide? Creatures? Jewels? Words? Magic? Tunnels to another place? My eighth line is:

My seas of dust hide night time lullabies

The last line after this is ‘Because I am the moon’ – the same as the first line. BUT unless you are writing this poem out on a piece of paper, you will not write this onto your 3D shape – because it shares a place with the first line. You will see what I mean when you make your shape!

Here is my poem written out:

Because I am the moon

I am the colour of cobwebs and smoke

My mountains tell me stories

My secrets can be found in silver coins

I wish I was a shooting star

I’m sad I cannot hear your songs

I dream of being kissed with clouds

My seas of dust hide night time lullabies

Because I am the moon

 

Here is how to write your poem onto a moon!

First you need four pieces of A4 paper. Fold them all in half. Then, either use a pair of compasses to draw a circle or find a saucer or something round that is just smaller than the width of the folded paper to draw round.

Then cut the circle through the 4 layers. Or, if you are unsure of doing it this way, draw your circle onto each folded piece of paper and cut each folded piece out separately. You will end up with 8 paper circles. Fold them in half and open them up again.

Write one line of your poem on each of the circles. Remember, you only need one ‘Because I am the moon’.

If you want to illustrate your poem or colour in the circles, it is best done now – it becomes harder later! Then stack the circles with your poem in order, first line at the top-  ‘Because I am the moon’.

Then take the top circle and fold it in half, so the right side folds onto the left side.

Glue this half.

Take the second circle with the second line of your poem on and stick the left hand side of this circle onto the other glued half circle. Make sure the fold matches the fold in the other circle. Be as accurate as you can.

Then fold this second circle in half and glue the side facing you.

And add the next circle on top – again, making sure the folds are all lined up.

Do this with all of the circles, until you have none left. Then turn the circles over so you have half of the first circle on your right and half the last circle on your left.

Take a long piece of hanging string, embroidery thread or wool and stick it in the crack in the middle of the half circles. Use sticky tape to keep it in place.

Then glue the left-hand circle side and stick it to the right-hand half circle. The shape is now 3D and will open up into your 3D moon poem.

Can you see that now the first and last line of your poem is ‘Because I am the Moon’? In fact, because of the way it is written, any line can be the first line, so it doesn’t matter if the moon is not facing the right way when you begin to read it. It still makes sense. You are ready to hang up your moon poem!

Quicky Poetry Ideas for Teachers: Similes – what colour is your heart?

Here’s a quickie simile poem idea.

The poem is a description of the person writing it, they should describe each part in the most surprising, and positive way they can. They must be as complimentary as possible about themselves. Each colour should be true, the description of the colour can be as vivid as they like.

Line one describes their hair colour, line two describes that colour further with a simile

Line three describes their eye colour, line four describes that colour with a simile.

Line five describes their skin colour, and line six further describes that colour with a simile.

Line 7 describes the colour of their hearts. This can be ANY colour.  Line eight will be a simile again, and can be of anything, but animals work very well.

 

The colours of me!

My hair is brown

like conkers in the sun

my eyes are brown

as autumn nuts

my skin is paler pink

than summer buds

and my heart

is dappled

like the leopard

that hides in the grasses.

 

Have fun! This poem can be done with many variations.

Posted in Poetry Competition

Covid Poetry Competition!

 

There are only THREE more days to enter this poetry competition! Get your idea down and send me something – there are lots of poem-writing ideas and prompts in the poetry craft blogs under this entry. Why not try one of those, with covid, any aspect of it, as your subject?

Please read the RULES before sending your entry off!

The poems can be in any style, rhyming or non-rhyming, funny or serious.

You could write about Covid19 in metaphorical terms – as a tiger prowling the streets, perhaps.

Maybe you want to express how Covid19 makes you feel; what would you like to say to it?

How would you banish it, and where?

Maybe you’d like to write about how your days have changed, what you have been up to during your time with your family, the good things that have happened, things you have enjoyed about being home for an extended time. Think of the little details.

Your poems can be about anything to do with life as it is now.

RULES

Please read carefully!

PLEASE STATE YOUR:

NAME,

AGE,

EMAIL,

SCHOOL

and ADDRESS

on your entry which should all TYPED, no photos of poems, on ONE Word document, NOT in the body of the mail.

Do NOT send photos of written poems or Google documents or anything other than a Word or Pages document.

Send them in by June 15th, midnight, to poetliz @ mac.com (remove the gaps form the address if you copy this!).

Do not post your poems online.

The wonderful Roger Stevens of PoetryZone is going to judge!

There are no age-brackets – the competition is open to young people in the UK up to the age of 13, and there will be book prizes, including the following:

Huge thanks to the most generous and lovely publishers that we have here in the UK – in alphabetical order, Bloomsbury, Hachette, Macmillan, Otter-Barry, and Troika who have donated the books.
In the first picture, Apes to Zebras, by me, Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens (Bloomsbury),  Be the Change, The Same Inside by me, Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens, Reaching the Stars by me, Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan (all Macmillan), and A Kid in my Class by Rachel Rooney (Otter-Barry). In the second picture, If I Were Other Than Myself, by Sue Hardy-Dawson, This Rock, That Rock by Dom Conlon (both Troika), and Poems from a Green and Blue Planet, Edited by Sabrina Mahfouz (Hachette).

 

Quickie Poetry Ideas for Teachers

Wanting a quick idea to practise using nouns, verbs, and adjectives?

the grass

glitters

its forest

Carol Bevitt, Susan Eames, Helen Laycock

I call these tribbles. Ask your class to write a noun, a nature word, on the top of a piece of paper.

Ask them to pass that paper to the child behind them, or at a suitable distance.

The new child then adds an action on the next line.  You can, if you wish, have a pool of verbs for them to draw from on the whiteboard, so obvious verbs are not chosen. This can also be achieved if the first child folds their paper so the noun is not visible.

Then the paper is passed on again to another child who writes the conclusion, based on the first two words. Ask them to use a noun or an adjective and a noun in the last line, and to keep it as short as possible.

Show them these examples to give them the idea:

 

The Volcano

belched

behind a hand of smoke

 

Susan Eames, Helen Laycock, Liz Brownlee

 

Tadpoles

wriggle

into frogs

 

Sherri Turner, Carol Bevitt, Helen Laycock

 

A bee

fuzzbuzzes its way

up the lupins

 

Liz Brownlee, Sherri Turner, Liz Brownlee

 

Then get them to pass the poems on again to be read out. These little poems give a great feeling of achievement, don’t take long and usually yield excellent results – hope you enjoy them! They can be displayed in many ways and if you choose connected initial nouns can be put together to make into longer poems.

Posted in Empathy Day

#Empathy Poem – A Child Speaks

Aged 9, Severn Suzuki founded the Children’s Environmental Organisation. In 1992, long before Greta Thunberg, aged 12, she and three friends raised the money to travel from Canada to speak at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, to fight for their future and give a young person’s perspective on environmental issues. In 1993, she was honoured in the United Nation’s Environment Programme’s Global 500 Roll of Honour. Sill fighting for the environment, she is now also a speaker, television host and author.

 

A Child Speaks

 

Butterflies

are disappearing

like my breath on a windowpane

 

you would think

this clear view

would help them see

 

but no

 

maybe the last, gentle orangutan?

 

no

 

perhaps the ocean

lapping with plastic bottles?

 

no

 

possibly the last bee?

 

no

 

we save the rights

of those with a voice

 

but we are the undefended

 

the last tiger walking

 

and all the adults do is talk

 

about talking

 

© Liz Brownlee

 

Posted in Empathy Day

#EmpathyPoem – Feeding the World

Another #EmpathyDay poem – again from Be the Change, Poems to Help You Save the World, written with Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens, Macmillan.

9-year old Katie Stagliano brought home a tiny cabbage seedling as part of a school project, and tended it so well it became an enormous 40lb cabbage! She donated it to a soup kitchen where it fed 275 people. Katie decided to start vegetable gardens so that she could donate the produce to help people in need. Katie’s Krops now has 100 gardens across the US, helping feed people in need.

 

Feeding the World

 

One cabbage seedling,

with small stems bowed

and pale leaves furled,

 

given food and water

and love can grow

a heart to feed the world.

 

© Liz Brownlee

 

Image from Bayer CropScience UK by creative commons license and changed by removing the background.

 

Posted in Empathy Day

Snow – #EmpathyPoem

I’m posting lots of empathy poems today! Here is one about snow, and small gifts. This poem is in Be the Change, Poems to Help You Save the World, written with Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens, Macmillan.

 

Snow

 

Swirling slowly

in lilting flight,

as cold as stars,

the soundless white

 

of drifting feathers

spreading wings,

to sing the songs

that snowflakes sing,

 

of how small gifts

of peace and light

can change the world

in just one night.

 

© Liz Brownlee

 

Image by Bert Reimer on Flikr by creative commons license.

Posted in Empathy Day

#EmpathyDay – Refugee Poem

This poem is in The Same Inside, Poems about Empathy and Friendship by me, Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens, Macmillan

 

Refugee

 

After the bombing

and all are lost

and gone

 

I walk

 

I can carry only

my father’s pride

my mother’s longing

my brother’s blood

my sister’s hope

and my dreams

 

but my father’s pride

cannot be carried

as a refugee

so I lay it down

 

and walk

 

when I sleep

my mother’s longing

is too painful to hold

so I lay it down

 

and walk

 

until my shoes

fall off my feet

and I leave

my brother’s blood

and my own

on the road

as if it is worthless

 

and I walk

so far and

sleep so little

I cannot remember

my dreams

 

so I lay them down

 

I can carry only

my sister’s hope

which is light

 

in my heart

 

 

© Liz Brownlee

Posted in Empathy Day

#Empathy Day: Anne Sullivan – Teacher to Helen Keller

It’s empathy day! Here’s another poem about empathy. This is from Reach the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, by me, Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan, Macmillan.

Helen Keller lost both her sight and hearing as a baby. She became very frustrated as a child, living in silence and darkness until her family employed Anne Sullivan. Despite being partially blind herself, she cleverly found ways to help Helen communicate.  Anne was Helen’s teacher, support and companion for the next 49 years until she died – by then, she had enabled Helen get to college, learn to type, speak, get married, tackle social and political issues, including women’s suffrage, and write a book.

 

Anne Sullivan, Teacher to Helen Keller

 

I started with the word for ‘doll’,

finger-spelling on her hand.

This child could neither hear, nor see –

how could I help her understand?

 

To fill the space for song and bird,

all that sound and light explain;

out of reach did not exist

and dark and silence had no name.

 

Until I spelled into her hand

under a pump – though deaf and blind,

the word for water and the water

flowed together in her mind.

 

That living word grew in her hands,

gave her ways to hear and see,

let in hope and joy and love

with words that set her free.

 

© Liz Brownlee