Poetry … it seems like such highbrow activity, one that must be taken in the right environment… and something that has largely terrified me since school! But at Greenbelt this past weekend, partly because for #BIGRead14 we’re using Stephen Cherry’s poem-prayers Barefoot Prayers, I decided to go to poetry session – with Anthony Wilson if I remember rightly, sat on the grass in a tent, feeling rather grubby I enjoyed myself. Some of the key notes I made in the session:
- It’s about making connections – creating new links where non existed before.
- Link the 5 senses to what you want to say
- Carry a notebook to capture ideas as you’re out/about as you’ll forget when you get home… they don’t have to go anywhere, but they keep your brain going and may get used at some point.
- Suggested Les Murray – The Paperbark Tree – talking of Wordsworth – housing the dream – there is the body/the body conscious, and the daylight/dreaming minds – the second of which can’t really be pinned down.
- Peter & Anne Samson – The Poetry Business – dreams don’t have to make sense … the power of mystery, but also specificity – dreams often vivid.
- Poems can stop without giving a sense of completion = leave the mystery.
- The title is a signpost/label that frames how we read the poem.
We then undertook an exercise to write our own poetry… Earlier in the session we’d been encouraged to think of weather (sunshine), music (jazz), animal (cow), place you’d love to be (beach), and what you think first thing in the morning (urgh) – we then have 5 mins to write a poem – here’s what I came up with:
As the sun streams through the office window
I dream of dozing on the beach
As funky jazz plays softly in the background
And a cow wanders past in the surf
Urgh – I’m back at the desk, cursor winking impatiently at me”
And I even volunteered to read it out (well, if you’re going to have a learning experience, might as well go the whole hog!) – and got positive feedback that people could picture it (and the sense of frustration of being back in front of an immovable screen)!
Most important advice: be in the poem and keep it short.
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.