Posted in Poetry News

Gorilla for #EmpathyDay!

Today is #EmpathyDay2020! And so all day there will be posts about Empathy and love. This is an old post from my personal website, Lizbrownlee.com .  (Poetry Roundabout is for ALL poets and poetry!).

Gorilla N'Gayla twins Sabine Bresser

The image above was not taken in the wild, it is taken at Bergen Zoo by Sabine Bresser, of N’Gayla, a gorilla who unexpectedly gave birth to twins, one boy, one girl, a very rare event for gorillas.

I chose it because of her incredibly proud and loving smile. She is, reportedly, a happy character.

Gorillas are among my favourite creatures.

To see how gentle they are, watch this short film of a chance encounter two men had with a wild gorilla family in Uganda.

 

 It says it all, really, doesn’t it?

They are immensely strong but rarely use that strength to do harm.

They live in balance with nature, mainly on flowers and leaves.

They are very endangered.

Here are two quotes by Dian Fossey, from “Gorillas in the Mist”, published in 2000 by Mariner Books.

“The more you learn about the dignity of the gorilla, the more you want to avoid people”.

“When you realise the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future”.

All life is bound together in one huge link of dependency.

Our food, our water, our shelter, and our lives in every country are bound up in cycles, and one link that leaves a chain can have catastrophic effects on the creatures and plants above and below it.

We should be looking to every loss, every creature or plant in trouble, to see how to help them.

We are stripping the planet. We are destroying the very air that sustains us, and the water we drink.

We do not have the knowledge of contact with the earth any more that gives us the careful path to tread in between taking enough and leaving enough, for others, and for the continuance of our species.

Things that the gorilla knows.

We need to take a step back out of our lives and think about what is really important before it is too late.

Where is it all going to end?

.

Gorilla (for Julia Green)

.

A gorilla has massive muscles,

and is ominously dark,

can uproot banana trees

and strip the bark,

but his character is subtle,

sensitive and calm,

his power used for warning,

and rarely to harm,

for his colour has been made

from the shadows in the breeze,

his nature from the sunshine

and his food of flowers and leaves.

.

© Liz Brownlee

.

If you value gorillas, you may want to help here: WWF.

.Photo © Sabine Bresser

Information from WWF.

Posted in Poetry Craft, Poetry Fun!

A Poem on a Kite – Craft and Poetry

Robert Couse-Baker, Flikr creative commons

Today I am going to show you how to write a poem about a kite, and then write your poem on a kite to hang from your ceiling or window!

This is a kite poem I have written in the past:

 

The Kite

 

I am the emperor of wind

my world is sky and sun

 

air surrounds me, guides me

moves me so we are one

 

my red skin glows like fire

I am kite; part silk, part light

 

my tail patterns in circles

in loops and swoops of flight

 

watch me become the wind

and the wind take shape in me

 

it is my soul, my life, my all

it sets my spirit free

 

© Liz Brownlee

In your poem, YOU are the kite. You will be thinking about what it would be like to be a kite flying in the sky, being moved by the wind.

Your first line will be I am a kite – in your second line, you will say where or how you fly. You will use a word for sound in this description. Think of the sounds a kite will hear up in the sky. It could be the sound of insects (what noise do they make?), or the wind, or aeroplanes, whatever sound you think the sun makes (make one up!), or the sound of the people down below, watching.

Your sound words could use onomatopoeia. This word is said: ono-matter-pee-a. No, I can’t spell it either, I had to look it up! These are words that SOUND like what they are describing: ‘The kite swished‘, ‘the wind buffeted the kite’. The words in bold describe the sound, and sound like the sound.

I have imagined what sound the air is making and put that:

I am a kite

I fly through the singing air

Your third line will describe what you (the kite) look like. You will use a metaphor – a metaphor describes something AS something else.  ‘The kite is a spiral of colours.’

I am a diamond

Your fourth line will describe what you are doing, using a verb (a doing word).

shining under

Your fifth line will describe the sky. I thought about what was in the sky as well as the kite – you could think about the colours in the sky, or the wind, or a smell, or clouds, but I remembered that even when it is daytime, the stars are still up there in the sky.

a sky of invisible stars

Your sixth and seventh lines will describe the wind with a simile (when you say something is ‘like’ something else) or a metaphor (when you say something ‘is’ something else). Think what the wind is like for the kite – some words which might help you are: friend, helper, song, home, life, fun, dancing partner, hero, path, direction, pattern.

The wind is like

a mother to me

Your eighth and ninth lines will describe how the wind helps the kite.

helping me to fly

and guiding me back home.

Yay! You’ve finished your poem. Read it out – can you hear anywhere where you could improve it, perhaps by taking out a word, putting one in, or changing a word for a better word? Does your poem make sense? Can you change it a little so it flows well?

This is mine, written out:

 

I am a kite

I fly through the singing air

I am a diamond

shining under

a sky of invisible stars

the wind is like

a mother to me

helping me to fly

and guiding me home.

 

You can write your poem neatly onto a piece of card or paper and hang it on the wall, you could draw a kite to go with it, or you can display it as a kite. Below are the instructions to do that.

First, you need to make your poem into a diamond shape. This is why you have an odd number of lines, one line has to be the middle. First of all you need to write your poem as I have below – so that the lines get steadily longer until the middle line, (probably line 5, which will be the longest line) and then shorter again. You will have to play with the words, adding some words from the lines above or below to get the shape correct. If it won’t work, then add words, or take some away. When you have finished, read your poem out to check you have not added a word in a line and still have it in the line above, for example – this is easy to do!

I am

a kite,

I fly through

the singing air. I am

a diamond, shining under

a sky of invisible stars. The wind

is like a mother to me,

helping me to fly

and guiding

me back

home.

 

Notice that in line 5, where I have added two words from the line below, I have shown where the line finishes by a full stop, to also show where the next line begins. You could also put in a comma.

When you have your shape right, all you have to do is draw a diamond on an A5 sheet of paper or card. You could do it on A4 if your have a lot of words and are worried about fitting them in!

How to draw a diamond shape! Measure and mark half way along the top and bottom of your paper, and half way down each side.

Join the marks with a ruler and pencil!

Then cut the kite out and place it on another piece of plain paper. Use the kite as a template to draw around.

Draw a line across the middle of your rough paper kite and then, again roughly, divide each half with 5 lines. You may need an adult to help with this. Then write your poem in on your rough piece of paper. Work out how to write the lines to fit your kite properly. It might take a while to do this! You may need to change where some of the words go. Don’t worry, you can’t get it wrong, as long as all your poem is on your kite!

Then put your kite next to the rough copy and copy your poem across. Notice I have tried out two pens to see which one would be the right thickness to write my poem in. I wrote the poem on the good kite in pencil again to guide my pen words. Then I rubbed out the pencil when it was dry.

Then it is time to add a tail to the kite. I had an old pipe-cleaner which I twisted into a spiral, but you can use lengths of ribbon, coloured string, wool, anything that looks like a kite tail and which you can attach to your kite! I attached the pipe-cleaner with sticky tape and then a staple.

Then a made a tiny bow from parcel ribbon to put on top of the staple – you could use wool or string or even cut out a bow out of magazine paper or coloured paper to stick there – but make sure it will not hide any of your words.

Thread a thick needle with some string, wool, embroidery thread or ribbon, knot the end and push it through near the edge (not too near the edge!) of your kite, a little way down the top side of the kite, either on the right or left. I put my hole between the third and fourth lines. This means your kite will hang at a jaunty angle.

And then you can hang it up!

Hope you enjoy yourself!

I am so pleased to say that red bubble at Farfield School, @SchoolFarfield have written some wonderful poems by following this idea! Look here they are, flying high!

Posted in Poetry Competition

Covid Poetry Competition!

 

There are NINE 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 to the email address under Contact in the menu above.

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).

 

Posted in Poetry Art and Craft

Words Grow on Trees – Art and Poetry Idea from Sue Hardy-Dawson

Yay! I’m very happy to have a guest art and poetry blog post here from the lovely Sue Hardy-Dawson!

Words Grow on Trees

Why not write and decorate your own word tree? Here’s how:

First of all you might start with a list of tree related words – I sometimes write my list as a mind map.

I have put a few ideas in mine, I bet you can think of lots more things the parts of the tree look, feel, sound and smell like.

I started mine with, ‘Words grow on trees’, because we’re making a word tree. Also when I was small and used to ask for more of my share of something grownups often used to say ‘Do you think they grow on trees?’ which if it was new shoes or a biscuit I thought was funny.

The first verse is about the roots. You will have different ideas so your roots will be made of different things.

 

Words grow on trees

from knotted roots

like coiled ropes

round ancient bones.

 

The next verse is about the trunk, I thought about the texture, things it reminded me of.

 

My tree has a fat trunk

bark, leathery and cracked

as elephant skin.

 

The next verse is about the branches, I thought about them being held up to the sky like arms, you will have your own ideas.

 

Long, strong branches

that can hold the moon.

 

The last verse is about the leaves. Mine are spring leaves, soft, green and new but yours might be autumn leaves and different colours or thick dark shady ones. I wanted my poem to end with words as it was a word tree and I thought about trees whispering words. Again it’s your poem so there are no wrong ideas.

 

Spring brings new buds

of soft green leaves

everyone of them soon

whispering different words.

 

Once you have written your poem, you are ready to make your word tree. Here’s my finished poem and this is what you do next.

 

Words Grow on Trees

 

Words grow on trees

from knotted roots

like coiled ropes

round ancient bones.

 

My tree has a fat trunk,

bark, leathery and cracked

as elephant skin.

 

Long, strong branches

that can hold the moon.

 

Spring brings new buds

of soft green leaves.

Everyone of them soon

whispering different words.

 

So here’s how to write out your poem, in the shape of a tree, starting with the roots at the bottom, so you read it up instead of down. It’s probably easier to show you so here is a picture:

Now the really good thing about trees is that you can’t really go wrong, so if as I did you have a word that sticks out it just looks like a twig. Basically, as long as it’s sort of thin in the middle, is wider at the root and has some branches it’s going to look like a tree.

Once you have written your poem in a tree shape, you are ready to put the leaves on. You could just draw them of course but I did mine with finger prints in paint. It works best with two or more colours and I would suggest you have another spare sheet of paper nearby to dab your finger on first so it’s not too thick and drippy.

Here’s how I built mine up:

So here’s my tree and I think it looks quite nice like that and of course you might just want to leave it there.

However I thought it might be even nicer to cut it out and stick it onto a different colour background and add some grass and other bits. So that’s what I did with mine and here it is:

© Sue Hardy-Dawson

Thank you so much Sue for that fabulous idea! 

Painting Poems by Julie Anna Douglas.

Julie Anna’s first book is a bright and positive collection full of promise, which is beautifully illustrated in a variety of styles. At its heart is the idea that creativity sparks creativity, and this is something I believe in passionately – at the end are a number of ideas to help you write your own poems, produce your own artwork and models, and interact with the poems in the book. You can buy Painting Poems here.

Here is my favourite from the book:

 

Whiskers

 

Whiskers appears in my garden each morning

just as I’m leaving for school.

Bright eyes flicker through the lavender

full of the wisdom of the woods.

Black-tipped ears glisten in the sunlight,

searching for whispers on the breeze.

Elegant, graceful, poised.

Standing still and serene.

We pause for a golden moment

shared in silence.

Frozen in time

until we blink back to life.

 

© Julie Anna Douglas

 

Posted in Poetry News

Alliterative Sea Poems, and Jellyfish Craft Project

Today I’m writing an alliterative poem about a jellyfish! Later I will show you how to make a jellyfish to display your own poem  – which doesn’t have to be about a jellyfish, it can be about any undersea creature.

What is alliteration? Alliteration happens when words in the same sentence have the same first letter sound. Sometimes letters within the words have the same sound which doubles up the effect.

I find fine falafels fabulous. Big bangs bring down bombed buildings. I like licking lemon and lime lollies.

Alliteration is often used in poetry, sometimes to suggest an action or sound that helps with the images. It can be used to help with a rhythm, or draw attention to a word or idea.

I have used a little alliteration in the following poem to suggest and establish the rhythm of the sea:

 

Leafy Sea Dragon

 

Where meadows of

green sea grass grows,

among the waving

seaweed groves,

the leafy dragon

comes and goes,

 

attired in leaves

of seaweed green,

among the weeds

he’s barely seen,

entwined and wreathed

with seas between,

 

and as the dragon

drifts and weaves,

the rhythms

of the sea he breathes,

and none see when

he comes or leaves.

 

© Liz Brownlee

 

So – now to write your poem! Every line does not need to have alliteration in it – and you do not need to have every word alliterating. Neither do you need to use rhyme – it is better to use the best words you can, and having to make a rhyme fit can make what you are saying sound awkward or forced if you are not used to doing it.

Read a bit about your animal so you have some ideas of what to write. Look at images of it.

Lines 1 and 2: Start off your poem naming your animal, saying where it lives. I have chosen a jellyfish because that is the craft I will be doing later, but the jellyfish model can have any poem about any undersea creature attached to it. Perhaps you’d prefer an octopus – and you could make an octopus as easily as a jellyfish – or maybe a dolphin, whale, or other type of fish? These are my first two lines:

Jewelled jellyfish jiving

in the deep, dark waves

You do not need to have all the words alliterative – I could have used the same sound in both lines, but I have used a different sound in line 2. If saying something about your animal sounds better with fewer alliterative words, use the most poetic version!

Line 3 and 4: Tell the reader something else about your creature. This could be what it eats, what it enjoys doing, whether it is active at night or day, or how it is feeling. These are my second two lines:

bobbing in the blueness

all its nights and days

Lines 5 and 6: Use a simile to compare the creature’s habitat or movement to say it is like something else or use a metaphor to say it is something else. If you have chosen a dolphin for example, you might want to say it splashes LIKE a stone skipping water, or it IS a stone skipping splashes through the water. Can you hear the difference between those two descriptions? I think the second metaphor description sounds better. That’s because the rhythm in it suggests the sound of the dolphin jumping through the water. These are my third two lines: 

waving winding tentacles

beneath its water sky

Lines 7 and 8: Using another simile or metaphor, describe your creature’s movement if you haven’t before, or its appearance – using the dolphin example, you might say its skin is like the sun and sea-smoothed sand or is sea and sun-smoothed sand. In this case, I think the simile description sounds better, as it has the better rhythm and sounds more believable. These are my last two lines:

muscles move its bell top

like a lilting lullaby.

 

That’s the end of your poem!

 

Here is my whole poem:

 

Jellyfish

 

Jewelled jellyfish jiving

 

in the deep, dark waves

 

bobbing in the blueness

 

all its nights and days

 

waving winding tentacles

 

beneath its water sky

 

muscles move its bell top

 

like a lilting lullaby

 

Next- you can make a jellyfish to display your sea poem. Read all the instructions so you can see how it is made all the way though first – then you will know why you are doing each stage and be able to work out how long to make strings etc.

 

You will need:

Yogurt pots (clean!)

Buttons or cardboard circles

Scissors, thick needle

Thread, wool, ribbon or parcel ribbon

 

First of all, choose your yogurt pot. I had two types – and chose the rounder version because it would look more like a jellyfish.

Then you will need a button with large holes – I chose the pink one because it had slits – if you do not have any buttons like this, then cut out a disk of thick cardboard, about an inch in diameter. It does not need to be that large, but larger is easier to cut out!

Next you need to cut lengths of something to make the tentacles of your jelly fish. This could be wool, or string, or thin ribbon… I am using thin, shiny curling ribbon which you can curl using your thumbnail pressed against it along it’s length – there are many videos on the internet showing you how to do this.

If you are making an octopus, you can cut wider pieces of thick paper and curl them to make the octopus tentacles.

When you have cut and made 8 tentacles, thread them through the holes in the button and sellotape them together and then to the top of the button. If it is not possible to thread them through, then sellotape each one to the top of the button. If you have made a cardboard disc, then you can either make a slit in it or you can sellotape each tentacle to the top.

If you are making octopus tentacles, the tentacles need to be sellotaped , equally distanced, around the rim of the yogurt pot.

(I do wish I hadn’t been gardening just before this art challenge, then my nails wouldn’t be all broken and ragged!)

Next you need to thread some ribbon, thin string, wool or embroidery cotton through a large needle with a big eye, and knot it at the end.

Put the end of the ribbon through the loop several times so the knot is big enough not to go all the way through the yogurt pot.

This string will hang your jelly fish from wherever you want to put it, so it needs to be fairly long.

Then push your needle up through one of the holes in the button or cardboard disc from underside to top side. If you holes are quite big you can put a piece of tape on the underside of the button or disc to stop the ribbon or string knot going straight through.

Then pull the ribbon through until the knot catches on the underside.

Then thread the needle through the middle of the underside of the yogurt pot. Pull until the button or disc rests against the bottom of the pot.

It should look like this:

I chose to leave my pot undecorated or painted because I think it looks more like a see-through jellyfish. But you can paint it with poster paint at this stage if you like. Or you can stick pieces of paper onto it in a collage of different colours.

Next you need to write out your poem neatly on a piece of stiff A6 paper – a quarter of the size of A4 paper. Do this in pencil first so you can fill the paper and make sure your words are not squashed.

Rub out the pencil before doing the next stage! (I didn’t!) Push the needle with the ribbon through the poem at the bottom middle, front to back. Pull the ribbon through but leave some ribbon space between the top of the jellyfish model and the bottom of the poem.

Then bring the needle it out again at the top, back to front.

That’s it! You are ready to hang your alliterative sea poem!

Hope you enjoyed making this poem! You can write a jellyfish poem using any of the poem prompts from any of the crafts I’ve done over the past weeks.

The next craft poetry challenge will be written by the wonderful Sue Hardy-Dawson!

Posted in Poetry Book Parade, Poetry Review

This Rock, That Rock by Dom Conlon

This Rock, That Rock, Poems Between You, Me and the Moon, by Dom Conlon, with illustrations by Viviane Schwarz, Troika Books.

This collection is full of shadows and light, stillness and life; by turns tender, soulful, imaginative, powerful and contemplative. Subjects address growth, coming to terms with being yourself, life, death, the universe and all within. Many children’s books can be enjoyed by all ages – but this is a book eminently suitable for sharing.

The title poem, This Rock, That Rock, about the Earth and the Moon, ends with the words:

This rock is overflowing with life

That rock is what makes life on the this rock possible

Dom’s poetry, it is a boost into a space in which you may find something which make life possible.

Here is my favourite (although Quietly Remarkable almost won!):

 

The Last Man on The Moon

 

Watch carefully, steal a glance

just before the door closes,

as your mum or dad

takes one last look

at your shadow-wrapped face,

and know that through you

they have walked upon the Moon

to memorise every feature

as though this is their last visit –

and it is

 

for tomorrow you will be older

and you might not let them land

a kiss upon your lips

or hold the glow of your spirit

in their hands. You might not

be as easy to reach

or even see because

 

yes, there will be days

when you go dark

but even then, you should know

that they will still be there

looking up for the thin crescent

of light to appear in their sky

like the opening of a bedroom door.

 

© Dom Conlon

Obviously recommended. 5 BIG stars.

Posted in Poetry Craft, Poetry Fun!

I am a Bird – Poetry with Craft!

This is a challenge to write about a living creature in the first person – as if you were that creature. I am going to be a bird – but you could also be a dolphin, a pig, a fish, a dog, or a frog. It does need to be something you can draw, because later, if you want to, you will make your poem into a mobile!

Keep your lines as short as possible.

The first line of your poem will say what you are.

I am a bird!

For your next line, think about what your choice has on the outside – mine has feathers, but yours might have scales, skin, fur or spines. Describe what these things can feel, but instead of saying ‘feel’ say ‘SEE’. My second line is:

my feathers can see the wind

In your third line, describe the way your choice moves- I have chosen fly, but it could be swim, race, jump, run, or hop, any movement your creature makes.

I fly

You are going to describe your creature moving  ‘through the dreams of’:

I fly through the dreams of

Then you need to think of whose dreams they move though –  grass, sea, waves, a stream?  My bird flies over trees. So I have decided on:

I fly through the dreams of trees

Next, choose an adjective to describe your subject. It could be a word that describes appearance or movement or emotion. I could say ‘leafy green’ or ‘swaying’ trees. But I have decided on:

I fly through the dreams of lonely trees

That is your third line finished.

This next line is your last line. You will use the noise your creature makes, and say why they make that sound – using another part of the animal. So if it is a dog, your line might be ‘I bark to make my legs run faster’ or if it is a fish, which cannot make a sound, use whisper – you might say ‘I whisper to tell my scales to shine’. My last line is:

I sing to fill my hollow bones.

So now you have a poem – this is mine:

I am a bird!

My feathers can see the wind

I fly through the dreams of lonely trees

I sing to fill my hollow bones.

Hooray! You might want to put your poem to one side for a day and see if any other ideas come to you. When you next look at it and read it out you might ‘hear’ something that doesn’t sound quite right which you can change. Read your poem to another person – that always helps.

When you are happy with your poem – this is the next step! You are going to make a poem mobile. You will need some fairly stiff A4 paper or card.

Take your paper and fold it in half.

Then fold it in half again:

Open it up and cut along the creases you have made so you have four pieces of paper – if you have large writing or think you will need more space, use two pieces of A4 cut in half.

Now you need to draw your animal four times!

Because I’m drawing a bird, I am using my card sideways on because it is a better shape for drawing a  bird. Make sure that whatever you draw, you make it as big as possible on the card. Remember, you need space to write your poem line on each animal! Here is how I drew my bird:

Next, cut your animal out:

And use it as a template by drawing round it for all the other animals:

Then cut the rest out – you should now have 4 creatures, all the same:

Now to write your poem on your animals! Write it in pencil first. One line on each creature. Decide where your writing looks best on your shape. Experiment until it looks right. Try writing with felt tip on a separate piece of paper like the one you have used, to see if the pen shows though. If it does, use a black crayon to go over your writing. If it does not show through, use felt tip. This is because you are going to write on both sides of your creature. When the felt tip is dry, rub out the pencil lines.

Then colour in your animals, both sides! Use coloured crayons if possible so the writing on your animals shows up.

Next you thread the animals together so they can hang from the ceiling or a window. Thread a thick needle with thick thread. This is embroidery thread. You could use thin ribbon or string and make holes with something else – put the holes near the edge but but be careful not to put the holes too near the edge.

I have threaded the needle and thread through the  middle top of the bottom animal. I have knotted the end of the thread.

Then I have come back through the bottom middle of the next animal up and knotted the thread when I have decided how long I want it to be – a couple of inches is enough:

Then I attached the next bird up in the same way:

When you get to the top bird thread a needle through and knot and leave the end loose for hanging where you want it to be.

Then you are read to put it up! Here is mine – because it is two sided, it doesn’t matter which way the birds turn, you can still read the poem!

I hope you enjoyed making your poem mobile! Of course, you don’t need to make the mobile, you can just write the poem – I’d love to see any poems and any mobiles you make!

 

 

Posted in Poetry Craft, Poetry Fun!

Tribble Poems on Pop-Up Cards

The Volcano

belched

behind a hand of smoke

 

Susan Eames, Helen Laycock, Liz Brownlee

 

A while ago I invented a type of poem which I called a ‘tribble’ (which might give you a clue to another of my loves!). I have played it with friends on a writing forum. One person comes up with a noun, (a naming word), the next a verb ( a doing word) and the last person finishes the poem off with a short phrase, that should contain an adverb or adjective (describing words), but could contain just another noun.

It’s an interactive way of writing a poem, and can be great fun, as others people’s ideas spark your imagination.

You could write one with your family, or you could write one with one other person who will choose the verb in the second line. Or you could write one entirely on your own. In that case, you need to write out lots of verbs (skipping, rolling, patting, singing etc), cut them out, and fold them in half, and choose one at random after you have chosen your noun.

I am setting you the task of choosing a nature noun. This is mine:

That tree

Ask someone else to look at your noun and add a verb ( a doing word). When I played this with Susan, she added ‘commands’.

That tree

commands

Then you add the last line. Keep it to as few words as possible.

That tree

commands

the birds to sing.

There! You have a tribble poem.

So – what to do with your tribble? A tribble is very short so it is easy to write inside a card. Why not make a pop-up card to display or to give to someone else? Choose the tribble you like best.

Start off with a piece of A4 paper, sturdy paper or card if possible.

Fold it in half. The card will have its long side fold at the top. This is what it looks like opened up:

Write your poem out neatly on a scrap of paper. See how large it is and how much space it will take up on your card. Make sure it only takes up half the space, less if possible. You will write your poem, not where you would normally write you signature, on the bottom, but on the TOP half of the card, on the left.

I wrote it in the card in pencil first, and decided to make the last line into two lines to take up less space.

Next, close your card and along the fold cut two parallel lines – about half way along the space left over from where you have written your poem. My lines were 3 and a half cm deep.

When you open up the card again, push through where you have cut from the outside – this is what it will look like:

Now you have to decide what you want to pop up when you open up your card. I decided on a tree, of course!  The tree or whatever you draw has to be small enough to stay inside the card when it is shut, but big enough to pop up and look good when it is open. Shut the card to measure how big your pop up with be. It has to be smaller than the distance between the bottom of the hole and the edge of the card.

The easiest way to make sure it will fit this space is to cut a piece of paper that big and draw what you want to pop up on it – making it as big as possible.

I did mine by cutting out two pieces of coloured card and making my tree fit the space.

I stuck the tree together. Then I drew a bird onto the back of a coloured piece of origami paper so it was lovely and bright when I cut it out and turned it over. Then I stuck it to the tree.

Then I stuck the tree to the pop up piece in the card, and added some details to the background – I also rubbed out my pencil lines.

When I open and shut the card it works beautifully. But on the outside of the card is a hole where the pop-up is.

This does not matter if you are just going to display it – but if you want to give it to someone you will need to fold another piece of paper to make a cover for your card.

You will probably want to draw on the cover, if it is to be a card! Do this first in case you make a mistake. Then you can stick it to the card or you could staple it.

You could also use the Tribble poem-writing idea to write poem to go in a tiny Poetry Book. Making a poetry book is easier than this!

Hope you enjoy doing this! I certainly did!

 

Posted in Poetry Fun!

Making a Poetry Paper Chain

I love making paper chains and thought it would be fun to do one with a poem on.

This poem will be all about ADVERBS. Adverbs answer questions like, how, when, where, etc. Adverbs often end in ‘ly’, but not always. We are going to use adverbs to describe how a frog is croaking. 

You will write the poem first and then you will make a paper chain frog to write your poem on!

The first line of the poem is ‘The frog is croaking’ and so the first frog in the paper chain will have the words ‘The frog is croaking’ on it.

The last line of the poem is ‘on his log’, which will be written the last frog.

You will need to choose six adverbs to poetically describe how the frog is croaking, to write in on the frogs between the first frog and the last frog.

Maybe you want to describe how the frog is feeling – you might want to say he is croaking sadly, happily, or grumpily. You could draw your frogs expression to match how it is feeling!

Or perhaps you want to choose some rhyming words.  You would need three pairs of rhyming words. ‘Sadly’ rhymes with ‘badly’ and ‘madly’ . ‘Grumpily’ rhymes with jumpily. Jumpily isn’t a real word, but in a poem, you can use words that aren’t real, as long as people can understand what you mean and they fit!

You could use your six words to describe a real frog. It’s up to you.

Here is my adverb frog poem:

The frog is croaking:

grumpily,

jumpily,

chirpily,

burpily,

happily,

nappily,

on his log.

Here is how to make the frog chain – read all the instructions before starting:

Start with one piece of A4 paper.

Fold it in half along the long side:

Cut along your fold so you have two identical strips:

Then stick the strips together with sticky tape so you have one long strip – make sure you tape both sides. (It’s best to do all this with clean hands, and no crumbs of chocolate on your top which drop off as you lean over your paper… not that this happened to me. Oh, no.)

It should look like this:

Then fold each side into the middle.

Until it looks like this:

Then fold each side into the middle again. Make sure all these creases are pressed down nicely.

You now have all the paper folded into the right number of pieces, but they need to be folded in the right way. Open the paper up:

And starting from one end fold the paper into a zigzag:

Some of your creases will be the wrong way round. Just change the way they go as you fold.

You should end up with a piece of paper that looks like this:

Turn your folded paper round the correct way – with an open flap to the left. Now you can draw your frog! Make sure the frogs cheeks and legs go off of the side of the paper. When you cut your frog out, you must make sure you do not cut round the cheeks the whole way or the legs the whole way, because this is where the frog is attached to its neighbour in the chain:

This is where you must not cut:

Cut your frog out!

And unfurl him – can you see why you must not cut the whole way round his cheeks and legs?

How exciting! Now you can write your poem on him. Because he has two sides, you could write two poems!

Look at your poem and decide if you are happy with it. Do you still like your words? Do you want to edit it? When you are ready, write the poem on your frog, in pencil.

Remember, on the first frog you write ‘The frog is croaking’ and on the last frog, ‘on his log’.

You can of course change the words in any way you like! But check they fit first and make sense. Get someone else to read it. Then go over your pencilled poem in thin felt tip or another type of permanent pen.

Then you can use a pencil to put the expressions on your frogs’ faces! When you are happy, go over these in ink, too. Then you can colour in your frogs with coloured pencils – remember, not all frogs are green! They come in ALL colours!

I hope you enjoy this adverb poem frog chain challenge! Send me pictures if you make one!

*Update* Look! The Red Bubble from Farfield Primary and Nursery School, Bradford, have made some smashing poetry paper chains! Well, done, Red Bubble!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Poetry in Education, Poetry Videos

Why We Love Poetry – a Video!

As part of the Bristol Poetry Festival one year I was asked to provide a poetry exhibition for young people. This expanded with the aid of an Arts Council Grant I applied for into a family exhibition. I decided it would be great to include all my poetry friends who had met recently and produced a poetry book. Poems and illustrations by the poets from that book were enlarged and exhibited on the walls.

I also wanted to include shape poems and so we also wrote, found and shaped other poems, and this was a great success.

Hanging from the ceiling on mobiles were reversible poems – they could be read upwards and downwards.

My husband (a film editor in his work-life) and I interviewed, chose and directed children from ITV Television Workshop to learn and read poems written by the poets, and these performances were intercut with poetry films we had made of all of us at various meetings. These were shown on two screens with headphones, one for older children and adults and one for younger children.

There was a two-sided giant jigsaw puzzle which everyone had fun doing and then reading – we even had timed races to see who could build it quickest.

The best thing was the giant magnetic poetry, on three giant magnetic boards set at different heights. This nearly finished me off – making it was very time consuming, but it still survives and it’s a wonderful prompt for poetry writing. No-one could resist picking up the pieces and playing with the words – which is what poetry is, basically.

It was so easy to find a poem on the boards from a little play and it encouraged expansion of the original words into many, many poems written on the tables, illustrated sometimes, and hung on the poet-tree. Our youngest poet was three and our oldest – well, very old. She was excited to learn that poetry did not have to be about ‘special subjects’ but could be about anything, and set off home to write more. Even if it was just that one lady, it was  worthwhile endeavour… but it was a whole lot more than that.

If anyone wants to employ us with this exhibition any time, let us know! The 250 feedback forms were wonderful, full of praise and delight, and the only lament was that perhaps there would never be another.

Posted in Poetry in Education

Write a Colourful Simile or Metaphor poem!

A poetic and crafty way to use similes and metaphors.

When you say something is ‘similar’ to something else you mean they are very ‘like’ each other.

We use a similar word, ‘simile’ when we are writing. Similes COMPARE two things. If I were to say a flower was ‘like’ , or ‘similar to‘, or ‘as yellow as‘ the sun, I would be using a simile.

The flowers were like little suns = a simile.

The flower’s petals were as pink as Barbie’s house = a simile.

The flower petals had edges similar to saws = a simile.

If you say something IS something else, then you are using a metaphor. If I were to say the flowers are suns, I would be using a metaphor. Metaphors are a more exciting and energetic way to describe something. If I say ‘Julie is like a tiger’ it doesn’t sound quite as exciting as ‘Julie is a tiger’.

The flowers are suns, burning my eyes = a metaphor.

My heart was a bird trying to fly from my chest = a metaphor.

The market is a jungle, filled with bright and noisy people = a metaphor.

How about using colours to write some simile and metaphor short poems?

Small simile colour poems:

Pale blue

like the sky

on the horizon.

 

Orange as a

hungry baby

bird’s beak.

 

Red as a

Valentine’s Day

card shop.

 

Small metaphor colour poems:

Blue is the day

above the tree.

 

Mum’s sheets

are white tents

in the wind.

 

The air

waved with

green leaf hands.

 

Now the crafty bit!

Write your one line poems on things that are the same colour as the subject of your poem.

Here are two I have done – my ‘blue’ metaphor poem is written on blue paper. I could have drawn a blue sky as well, or stuck collage pieces of blue onto a white background and stuck the poem on top.

I have used collage on my second example -my ‘red’ simile line poem.

If you have written several simile or metaphor lines you can combine them into one poem – you might want to adjust one or more of the lines or change some of your similes into metaphors or metaphors into similes, make something singular or plural or add or take away a word:

The Colours of the Day

 

The day was

blue sky on the horizon

blue as the sky above the tree,

the flowers were suns

burning my eyes,

orange baby birds’ beaks,

and red as a Valentine’s

Day card shops,

while the air waved

with green leaf hands.

 

Notice that I have left out some of my lines. I could have called the poem ‘The Garden’ and included mum’s sheets on the line, but I wanted to keep the images to nature, so I left it out.

If I hadn’t had enough lines, I could have added more!

Read your poem out loud after you have put it together. Does it sound right? Could the rhythm be made better by removing a word or adding one?

Perhaps you think you could make the images better, by changing one of the similes or metaphors. I could have changed the white sheet line to: ‘the clouds are white as sheets in the wind’.

Have fun! Send me one! You could use similes and metaphors to write a Covid19 poem. If Covid19 was an animal, what animal would it be? If it was a type of weather, what weather would it be? What sound would it be? What type of smell? Which colour would it be?

If you write Covid19 poem, enter it for my Covid19 competition – details in the link, side bar or a few posts under this.

Posted in Poetry Fun!

Making a Tiny Poetry Book

The British Library has issued a challenge to young people to make a tiny book to read to their toys; their instructions are here.

I’ve often made tiny books, sometimes in a workshop after young people have written their own poems, and they are great fun to make!

Here is an easy way to make your own book – all you need is a piece of A4 paper, some scissors or a craft knife, and someone old enough to use the craft knife! If you wish to make a harder cover, you will also need some card, and elastic bands or a stapler.

Start off with your piece of A4 paper – I suggest making two of these folding books, I’ll explain why later!

Fold the paper in half along the long side; every one of these folds you make must be accurate – make sure the corners meet the corners exactly, and press the crease with your thumb to make sure it is nice and crisp:

Then open the paper up and fold it the other way:

Unfold the paper again and fold both short sides in to meet the middle crease:

When you open up the paper after it should look like this:

Each little square is a page of your book. (YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WRITE IN YOUR BOOK NOW, but if you want to do it at this stage, and you are not making a card cover for your book, this next image shows which direction each page will face. The numbers show where the page each square will be in the finished book. So the square at the top left will end up on the outside at the front and will be the cover. The next square though will end up as the back!)

Next comes the cutting bit!

Next stand your paper up like this:

And open up the slit and press the sides into a book shape:

 

This is your little book. If you are not making a cover, now you can start writing in your poem or story book.

Write the poem/poems first! Remember, whatever you write cannot be very long. You might want to write a line or two on every page. Each two pages when opened up is called a ‘spread’. You could write a poem on one half and illustrate it on the other half.

When you have written your book, you can design your front cover, and write a ‘blurb’ for it on the back. The ‘blurb’ is what publishers call the description of what is inside the book. Make it sound as exciting as you can!

Can you remember I suggested making two little paper books? That is because you can plan on one book, and do a neat copy when you have got it right!

If you are making a book with a cover, this is the plan for the inside of the book:

As you can see, you can write on every page, and you have two more pages.

Now you must make your cover. The cover will need to be made of card, and must be a little bigger all round than your book.

Cut it out and fold it in half:

Don’t put the cover on until you have written in your book. And also when you have decorated or drawn your cover and ‘blurb’ on the back! If you make a mistake you don’t want to have to take it apart.

When your book is finished, lie your book on the opened cover, with the book opened to the middle – you can fix it together using a rubber band if the card is very strong, or staples along the crease if not – staple it from the outside in:

You have written your first book! Congratulations!

Here is my little book of poems that I made yesterday – I have used some wonderful illustrations drawn by the great illustrator Gordy Wright  to go with my poems – maybe you know someone who can draw really well who might like to decorate your book, if you don’t want to?

As you can see, I didn’t get the circle of printing quite right when I did the inside line of the poem.

Pygmy shrew and ladybird!

Pufferfish and fairy fly:

Leveret and hedgehog:

And last poem, narwhal.

Here is my blurb!

Hope you like it! Do send your book to the British Library, they want to see them!

Here is my book when it was just one piece of paper – I printed it out on a printer which was a bit fiddly – you could also draw your book on your computer, print it and cut the drawings out to stick them in your book, if that is easier!