This has been a year like no other, and for so many of us the environment and methods of teaching and learning changed dramatically. Here, at The Poetry Society, we’re committed to supporting teachers and students of poetry in whatever way we can. We learnt in the last year that there is so much that we can still achieve either in or out of the classroom, and that poetry really can thrive and inspire creativity and reading in whatever learning environment you are in, be that at home, in school or at a youth club.
Now, with so many of you (students and teachers) returning to school and other educational environments it is now an opportune moment to invite a poet to visit your school. Poets in Schools, one of The Poetry Society’s flagship educational programmes is bespoke to all educational needs, and as the last year has taught us we are now adaptable to deliver workshops face to face, or online. Teachers (and librarians, youth group leaders and anyone who works with young people) can now book Poets in Schools visits in a social-distanced or in an entirely digital variety. Here are some of the testimonials we received from Poets in Schools bookings from the last year:
“I would thoroughly recommend a visiting poet. Despite the current restrictions and necessary changes it was a very positive event. Can’t imagine how awesome it would be without Covid.”
Leana Wiseman, LRC Lead, Adeyfield Academy, October 2020
“Rachel was fantastic from start to finish. Her energy, enthusiasm and positivity were superb and the students loved the sessions; we’ve since received several poems written by students who were inspired by Rachel’s visit… you know it’s been a success when 12-13 year olds are talking about it in the corridor hours later, which is something I witnessed first-hand yesterday!”
Nik Waight, Teacher, St George’s Weybridge, following a digital visit with Rachel Long (October 2020)
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 [email protected]. 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
The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2021 is open and we would love for your students to enter this year’s competition that is being judged by the incredible Yomi Sode and Clare Pollard. The competition is open to anyone from across the world aged 11-17 years old. The deadline is the 31 July 2021. Go to foyleyoungpoets.org to enter the competition and check out our jammed pack webpage dedicated to the Foyle Young Poets Competition. Here you will find helpful writing tips from poets, teachers and previous winners, winning poems and interesting facts about the competition. 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 is available online. You can also 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.
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 thought: why not get inspired to enter the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award by reading Talulah Quinto’s top 15 winning poem Maple from the 2019 competition. We think it’s brilliant and think you will think so too:
They named me after a sweet tree
As if to hide my spirit
They named me after a gentle tree
As if to hide my strength
They named me after a small tree
As if I would not grow
They named me after an old tree
As if I was not young
They named me after a living tree
And I will forever live
They named me after a sleeping tree
And I will never sleep
The name they chose is perfect
It holds me young and old
Sweet and able
Gentle and bold
That tree is Maple.