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!!!