What does poetry do for you?
When Amanda Gorman recited her poem ‘The Hill We Climb’ at the Joe Biden inauguration on 20 January 2021, people across the world stopped and listened. Read her poem. Hear her recite it. And feel the power of the spoken word.
Poetry expresses OPINION
Slam poetry is an interesting way of using poetry as a means of expression, inside or outside of the classroom. In school we have used slam poetry in English lessons to capture our pupils' opinions and the topics they feel passionate about. Slam poetry combines writing with drama, presentation and public speaking and often comes with associated passion and energy.
Have you come across Andrea Gibson? Their poem 'Homesick: A plea for our planet' is, like so much poetry, heartfelt.
In English lessons our pupils learn different elements about poetry each year that they are with us and they learn how to explore, appreciate, and analyse:
- Year 7: Introduction to Poetry, including Shakespearean sonnets and WW1 Poetry
- Year 8: Nature Poetry
- Year 9: Raise Your Voice - Poetic voice from a variety of diverse writers
- Year 10/11: Power and Conflict Poetry. We are usually able to offer our Year 11 pupils the opportunity to attend a live poetry event where they can hear from and question the poets (those still living anyway) whose ‘Power and Conflict’ work they study for GCSE English Literature - John Agard is a perennial favourite.
Poetry expresses EMOTION
Alice in Year 11 learned in April that her intense poem '(Un)Discovered' was Highly Commended in the Year 10-13 category of a national poetry competition! As a Highly Commended poet in the top three of the age group, her poem will be published in the Live Canon 2021 Children’s Anthology.
Head of English, Mrs Davies, is delighted for Alice and shared that the competition judges said that all of Alice's poems were of a high enough standard that they could stand alone in their adult competitions! We are really pleased that, in addition to other subjects, Alice plans to study English Literature at A level!
What about you? Do you write poetry? Have you done so in the past? Why not do so again? It doesn't need to be a Beowulf-length saga (3,182 lines) or as succinct as a haiku (How to write a Haiku in 4 steps). Why not spend some time each day or week writing about something you are passionate about?
Poetry invokes MEMORY
When you think of poetry, does a particular poem come to mind? Something you learned in school perhaps? Can you still recite it? Is it a classic such as William Wordsworth’s 'I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud' or 'Remember' by Christina Rossetti? 'Caged Bird' by Maya Angelou or Robert Frost’s 'The Road Not Taken'? A poem that reminds you of someone, of a time, of a place? When thinking of poets, who do you think of? Simon Armitage, the current Poet Laureate? Kae Tempest or Mary Oliver, Saul Williams or Kahlil Gibran? Go to Poetry Foundation.
Poetry is ALL AROUND US
Whether looking at and writing about nature, (see Kathleen Jamie), about urban life or your own experiences, poetry is literally and figuratively everywhere.
If you have been to Manchester, you may have seen one or more of Lemn Sissay’s poems on buildings.
As Shelley wrote: "Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted."