How to Write a Poem in 5 Easy Steps…

28 Dec

When Peter Khan invited me to Oak Park River Forest High School… I was both excited and terrified. Peter is a Legend; he has been running his program there for over 10 years, he started The London Teenage Poetry Slam and I am sure (via the metaphorical flapping of his butterfly wings) is semi-responsible for why I am here being a poet today.

These young people knew a good standard of teaching and there were 60 odd of them, in a lecture style room (if you know me or have been taught by me you will know I do not like that style of layout) for under two hours.

But Peter helped me mould a 5 stage poetry building template, inspired by (the first exercise which I stole from) Caroline Bird. Here is the print out I gave them in chunks…feel free to utilise it and build your poem (yes Mouthy and Notts Uni students I am aware we have done this before and that is part of what helped me refine this into a digestible sheet)

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

By this point I was sweaty and scared and trying to figure out if everyone was writing and okay, but it seemed they were and they didn’t notice my terror. In fact I think it was probably the underlying terror pumping adrenaline through me that helped me balance so impressively on the teaching ball. They all wrote, wrote a lot…and for task 5 I had the pleasure of working with the ‘veterans’ students that had been in at least 3 showcases that the spoken word club put on at the school or ‘alumni’ the dozens of previous students from the school that cannot help but come back and stay involved. Their were 2 or 3 in each group of 8 students, helping them develop poems and stay on task…

The groups split up down the halls, sitting on the floor writing in silence. To hear nothing but writing, down echo prone school halls with 60 odd students writing poetry for 30 minutes- was honestly quiet emotional. I was inspired and as a result I felt very emotionally raw, like I needed to write or maybe cry. But hearing their pieces afterwoods and getting hugs from all of them was probably what I needed and it is what I got…Here is one of the pieces, since redrafted into a complete piece after an editing session with me the next day.

From Debris x

One Response to “How to Write a Poem in 5 Easy Steps…”

  1. mouthypoets December 30, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    Tell LaTroy to keep writing and keep breathing his life into words. His grandmother should be proud. If working and fighting and saving and crying and battling and compromising, produces young people who feel like this… it’s worth the effort and the sacrifices! What a strong, sensitive piece of writing.

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