Skip to main content

Boys and Poetry- Some Misconceptions

I recently visited a school as part of a Meet The Author Day and was talking to groups of young writers about the work surrounding my latest book, ‘Searching For Hen’s Teeth- Poetry From The Search Zone.’ The usual questions arose during the day:

Where do you get your ideas?
What inspired you to write poetry?
Do you have a favourite poem?
Do you prefer rhyming verse or free verse?
How long have you been writing poetry?
How did you get your poetry book published?
How long does it take to write a book?

All these questions are valid. All of them quite normal. But one Grade 6 boy’s question set me to thinking more deeply about my response. He raised his hand and asked, ‘Do you like sport?

 I have been asked this question before. In fact. It has been raised with me on numerous occasions and it is always posed by boys. I suspect that in the minds of many boys, poetry and sports are viewed as mutually exclusive pursuits. Poetry is seemingly passive and sport,  an active pursuit preferred by the majority of male role models in the lives of boys.

I gently explained that sport and poetry have both been my travelling companions throughout life. There has been plenty of room for both of them as I have journeyed through the years. For me, it was never an either or decision. 

Sport has been a strong thread in my life, for as long I can remember. I played football and cricket for as long as my body would allow. Team sports gave me a balanced perspective regarding the twin impostors- victory and defeat. Enduring friendships came from my sporting encounters. I am so grateful for the rich vein of experience connected to my sporting life. I had a strong desire to run quickly and jump a long way, so athletics was the perfect outlet in my youth.  It was the perfect release for youthful exuberance. My aching body stands as testimony to a life spent in sporting pursuits.

Poetry ran parallel to sport. It was always there. Throughout my schooling, university and my entire adult life, it has been present, acting like a counter balance. It was never a private passion. I was happy for people to know me for my love of poetry.


So, yes, I do love sport, but I also love poetry. Poetry continues unabated, despite my increasing sporting limitations.  There is room in my heart for many different pursuits. Sport and poetry co exist in my life and both of them have provided so many rich experiences. For me, there is harmony. I sometimes write poems about sport to further reinforce that link.

I will continue to challenge the misconceptions surrounding the arts and sports. I remain, a fully functioning literate sports nut. So boys, feel free to follow my lead, if you wish. 


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

List Poems Are Easy To Like

A list poem is one of the easiest kinds of poems to write because it doesn't require a set rhythm or rhyme. But that doesn't mean you should write anything down helter- skelter.

Consider the inclusion of the following elements to make a list poem a poem instead of just a list:

• The writer is telling you something--pointing something out--saying, "Look at this," or, "Think about this."
• There's a beginning and end to it, like in a story.
• In other words, the poem needs to make sense and have some kind of flow to it.

List poems provide an easy and successful structure to get children feeling more comfortable with poetry. They are to be found in the poetry of many cultures and have been employed successfully by many contemporary poets.

Poetry is full of surprises. List also need to be full of surprises. Without the occasional surprise your list poems will have all the appeal of a supermarket shopping list on a day when you don't want to go shopping!

Here …

The Challenge Of Rhyming Verse For The Inexperienced Poet

Poetry is an extremely flexible writing form. It is easily weaved into our writing programs across the year as opposed to just being pigeon holed into a specific unit of work. Poetry offers a unique response to literature -fiction or non fiction. Such is the flexible nature of poetry. 

From an early age children have much exposure to a significant amount of rhyming verse. That our classrooms are filled with poetry that is enjoyable to listen to, or fun to read is important, but it may not necessarily provide the best starting point for inexperienced poetry writers.

When used skilfully rhyme can add to the lyrical nature of poetry. When it is used out a sense of expectation, it frequently serves to detract from the poem's intention. It weakens the words overall. If you listen closely you can hear the words clunking into place. They just sound like they don't belong.

Don't get me wrong. I am not anti-rhyme. In fact, I have to guard against over using it. It is a natural inclina…

Image Poem

Image Poem

This poem owes its existence to Georgia Heard's idea of the six room image poem where six elements are addressed in the writing that follows:

Image
Light
Sound
Questions
Feelings
Repetition

The challenge is to expand our vision of selected images by attending to each element when writing. The idea is to spend time considering each of the six elements by thinking about them as rooms we must enter in order to think more deeply about our word choice.


The Grandfather Clock

The Grandfather clock
Stood tall like a palace guard
Marking time in Nana's lounge-room
Against the wall
Avoiding the sunlight streaming through lace curtained windows
Tick-tocking as the pendulum swung in its unerring arc
Brass and chains and moving arms 
Encased behind a long glass face
The clock announced the passing of each hour
With blare and boom
The rowdy ringing out
Chased the silence from the room
Why so loud? the small ones asked
Why so tall? the small ones wondered
They kept their distance
Time moved on relentlessl…