Today I have a poem for you, but before that I want to give you an update on how the Blank Page project is progressing.
January has been a crazy month, but a good one. The response to the blog has been incredible. The fantastic people at the school library service helped to get the word out to all the schools during the first week of January and within about ten days all 25 of my resource packs were spoken for! There are brand new creative writing groups being set up all over the country as we speak and I can’t tell you how thrilled that makes me!
The other piece of good news is that I might be able to rustle up some more packs! I managed to get some of the resources cheaper than expected, and then the ever-wonderful David at No Alibis bookshop gave me a hefty discount on the books just because he likes to support all literary endeavour especially encouraging young readers and writers, and my saint of a husband did all my website stuff (isn’t it good!), saving me hiring a tech-expert, so there is some funding left over. So if any more schools would like a pack for their writing club, do get in touch. And if you’re using the blog for tips and resources, remember to subscribe for notifications of new posts.
I think it’s just mindblowing that new clubs are being set up and might even continue to run for years and years, giving so many kids the opportunity to let their imaginations run wild after a hard day at school. I’m first in line to complain that there isn’t enough time for reading and writing for pleasure in our education system, but it’s so nice to see that we can make a difference ourselves even if our politicians are a bit rubbish.
The project was all about NI schools but I’ve even been contacted by schools in England to say they’re using the blog too, which is a fantastic bonus and I hope it will continue to spread and be helpful to anyone who wants to encourage creativity in young people.
Anyway, January has been spent in a deluge of packing materials and trying to figure out how courier systems work
but the boxes are finally out for delivery and I really hope they’ll inspire your writers.
Speaking of inspiration in a box, in the meantime, you could show your writers this poem by Roger Robinson, who was just announced as this year’s TS Eliot Prize winner. The poem is available to read in this Guardian article and it’s called A Portable Paradise.
A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson
And if I speak of Paradise,
then I’m speaking of my grandmother
who told me to carry it always
on my person, concealed, so
no one else would know but me.
That way they can’t steal it, she’d say.
And if life puts you under pressure,
trace its ridges in your pocket,
smell its piney scent on your handkerchief,
hum its anthem under your breath.
And if your stresses are sustained and daily,
get yourself to an empty room – be it hotel,
hostel or hovel – find a lamp
and empty your paradise onto a desk:
your white sands, green hills and fresh fish.
Shine the lamp on it like the fresh hope
of morning, and keep staring at it till you sleep.
You could read it to your writers and, if any of them want to use it as a prompt for a story or poem, they could think about:
- What would your paradise be?
- How would you carry it around?
- When might you need it and how might you use it?
I’m off for a bit of a writing retreat paradise next week but I’ll be back the week after with more tips and resources! Thanks everyone who’s contacted me so far, and good luck with your writing groups. This is all so exciting!!!
6 thoughts on “Portable Poetry”
Casey Bottono says:
Thank you for this. The poem would be a great starting point.
Congratulations on the success of your project.
Looking forward to seeing what you come up with next.
Kelly McCaughrain says:
Thanks Casey! I hope it’s helpful. And even if it doesn’t lead to any specific writing, I think it never hurts to read a poem or two! You never know what’s going to plant itself in someone’s imagination. I’ll do another post soon on other poems I’ve shared with my young writers.
Sara Gethin says:
I’ve been following your blog for a while now, Kelly, and I just have to tell you how inspiring I find your posts. I started up a writing group for adults in my little corner of Wales a couple of years ago and that’s going strong now – managed by people far more organised then I am. But your blog has made me realise that our local school might benefit from a writing group too. It’s something I’m going to look into. Thanks for the motivation! Have a great retreat x
Kelly McCaughrain says:
Wow, that’s so fantastic, thanks for getting in touch. This project was really set up as a Northern Ireland thing, but what drew me to the idea of doing it as a blog was the potential to reach people beyond NI and beyond my time as Children’s Writing Fellow NI, so I’m absolutely thrilled to hear that you’re using it in Wales! I think ALL schools would benefit from a writing group, you’re quite right! I hope you’ll go ahead with it, and good luck, let us know how it’s going and do share any tips you have from your own experience! x
Melanie Minos says:
Catching up on your blog from Tokyo- an Aussie Language & Literature teacher here- I thought you’d like to know you are travelling further afield than England 🙂 Loving your ideas and inspiration- the links are really helpful too!
Kelly McCaughrain says:
That’s amazing Melanie! And very nice to know, thanks for getting in touch. I’ve never been to Tokyo but it’s great to know TBP has. Hi to all your students!