This is going to be a very unusual academic year. Here at The Poetry Society, we’re committed to supporting teachers and students of poetry in whatever way we can. Since the pandemic first hit the UK, we have been commissioning brilliant new teaching resources from some of our finest poets and educators, and gathering together poetry writing prompts on a variety of themes. Whether you’re a teacher, parent, carer, student or fellow arts organisation, we invite you to make use of our free Learning from Home resources in the sidebar, as well as all our lesson plans on Poetryclass, writing prompts on Young Poets Network, and Teacher Trailblazer top tips. If there’s a topic or technique you think we haven’t covered, get in touch at edu[email protected]. Teachers (and librarians, youth group leaders and anyone who works with young people) can now book Poets in Schools visits of a social-distanced or an entirely digital variety. We know that poetry and other kinds of creativity will be vital in the coming months to help young people process the pandemic, and our poets are well-placed to help facilitate that – as well as running the regular workshops for National Poetry Day and other themes. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all the latest news, and sign up to our free e-bulletin below for fortnightly highlights.
Teaching Resources: KS1 to Further Education on Poetryclass
We have hundreds of fantastic resources for students ranging from Key Stage 1 to Further Education on Poetryclass! The resources are written by poets and teachers to spark creativity and love for poetry writing and reading. They can be filtered by theme, technique and Key Stage.
Videos from Poets: Poetry tips and exercises
Here are a selection of wonderful poetry exercises from Jack Underwood, Jo Shapcott, Daljit Nagra, Joelle Taylor and many other poets, promoting some of our excellent work in the education department:
- Jack Underwood: how to write with (un)certainty
- Jo Shapcott: how to write longer poems
- Daljit Nagra: the great memory animator
- Joelle Taylor: stronger metaphors
- Clare Pollard: how to write a ballad – find the accompanying challenge here
- Glyn Maxwell: how to write a dramatic monologue – find the accompanying challenge here
- Benjamin Zephaniah on his writing journey and P. B. Shelley
- A lesson plan by Teacher Trailblazer Mrs Sezkin – part one and part two, responding to a Foyle Young Poets winning poem (which you can read here)
Videos from Poets: writing poems inspired by the past
Watch amazing poets Benjamin Zephaniah, Joelle Taylor, Hollie McNish and Dizraeli perform their own poems and discuss inspiration from historical poetry in their work.
Ideas for young independent writers: Young Poets Network
Young people can check out our jam-packed online resource Young Poets Network. We’ve also gathered together a list of our top 10 writing workshops which you can adapt into lesson plans, or they can write inspired by!
There is a bank of tips, features, writing prompts and competitions for young people aged 5-25 to get their teeth into. They can also sign up to our mailing list to receive fortnightly updates on everything we offer young people.
Something to read: The Poetry Society database of poems
Writing poems inspired by place
We might all be stuck in one place at the moment, but here’s a project we worked on last year – a digital map of England and Wales with local poems pinned to thousands of city, town and village location. Search for your hometown – and write poems of your own using these prompts.
The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award
Though the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award has closed for 2020, it will re-open in Spring 2021 – so why not start preparing your students’ entries now? It’s totally free to enter for anyone in the world aged 11-17. Everyone who enters receives a participatory certificate and the chance to be chosen as one of the top 100 poets. Get inspired by reading last year’s top 15 winning poems and the 85 commended poems. Class sets and individual entries welcome. The 2020 winners’ anthology will be available in March 2021. If you’d like to request a class pack of anthologies, and if you have any queries about the competition, get in touch at [email protected].
For every year of the Foyle Young Poets competition, we appoint Teacher Trailblazers. These are teachers from across the UK who have demonstrated excellence in teaching poetry and encouraging young people to share their voices and poems. Here are some fun and creative teaching resources written by our amazing Teacher Trailblazers that work for any educational environment, including at home.
Nominate a teacher
We know that there are so many amazing teachers who are helping students, parents and colleagues to continue to learn through creative writing during the current Covid 19 crisis. We want to applaud all of them. Get in contact and nominate your teacher and we will thank them for everything that they are doing. Email [email protected] and include the name of the teacher/s, school name and a short reason for why you would like to nominate them.
NaPoWriMo in April is National Poetry Writing Month – the global poetry generating project that’s been running since 2003. NaPoWriMo invites you to write a poem a day throughout April in common with poets all over the world. In 2020, we published a writing prompt a day on our Instagram, which you can go back and read whatever the season.
It’s understandable to be anxious at the moment. Here’s our link to some mental wellbeing advice.
We are all in this together!
A lot of us look to poetry in times of crisis and we want to let you know that we are here for you all, and will continue to brighten up your day with a good dose of powerful poetry to help us be creative, empathetic and united.
Good health and best wishes – The Poetry Society Education Team
PS – here’s a hopeful thought: Clare Pollard’s amazing poem ‘The Gift’ which was displayed round the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square last year. It’s inspired by thoughts and images from children at Hampden Gurney, St Stephen’s, Our Lady of Dolours, St Matthew’s and St Peter’s C of E Primary School.
I walk through Winter’s city,
my footsteps stain the snow.
The darkness shuts like curtains.
It’s later than I know.
Dark is a heart that’s breaking,
Dark is a dream you lose.
Dark is a pounding headache
that makes the world a maze
and then a speck of something,
I see a candle-flame –
a tiny seed that flickers.
I hear Hope say my name.
The seed becomes a golden flower
of pouring light, a gift.
I need you to believe, Hope says.
It’s you makes me exist.
I feel bright feathers lifting.
I hear a tiger’s roar.
I’ve taken many forms, Hope says –
changing is what I’m for.
At Christmas-time I settle
into the shape of tree –
alive, sharp, resin rising.
Hope shines and darkness flees
and I can see a future
as clocks chime their late hour
for Hope will be our present,
and Hope will give us power.