All of a sudden, we find ourselves working and studying from home. These are unprecedented times, but The Poetry Society is determined to harness the power of poetry to keep us all informed, entertained, consoled and connected for the duration. Our Education Team has gathered together a giant bundle of poetry learning resources for teachers, colleagues, parents, carers and students. We’ll be adding to them over the coming weeks, so keep checking back – and meanwhile, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all the latest news.
A free writing competition for 11-17 year olds: The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award
Encourage young people aged 11-17 years to enter the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award. It’s totally free to enter and everyone who enters receives a participatory certificate and the chance to be chosen as one of the top 100 poets. Winners receive prizes including publication and continuing development opportunities from The Poetry Society, an Arvon writing retreat, a bag of poetry books and a stash of chocolate! Get inspired by reading last year’s top 15 winning poems and the 85 commended poems. Class sets and individual entries welcome. If you have any queries about the competition then please email Alice Watson on [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.
Check out more videos from former Foyle Young Poet winners about how to enter and what the competition means to them, including one from Game of Thrones actor Ellie Kendrick:
- Singaporean poet Theo Kwek says stop procrastinating!
- Writer Helen Mort: winning the competition was like the Oblivion ride at Alton Towers
- Ellie Kendrick on the confidence she gained by winning the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award
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.
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.
Ideas for young independent writers: Young Poets Network
Young people can check out our jam-packed online resource Young Poets Network. 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’ll be offering young people in the coming months.
Something to read: The Poetry Society database of poems
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.