National Poetry Day 2015 – Light Poems
A YEAR HAS PASSED, A YEAR HAS GONE!
I can hardly believe it’s time for National Poetry Day again. This time last year I was preparing for my very first full school assembly (actually, it was also my very first school visit – talk about in at the deep end!). I wanted to talk about how poetry touches all our lives and how, even though so many people say they aren’t ‘into poetry’ or ‘don’t understand it’, it’s a part of our culture. We listen to it on headphones, we write it in birthday cards, we even use it when we say something nice to someone.
This year I’ll be sharing my love of poetry with more primary school children and, as the theme is LIGHT, I thought I’d share some ideas here about writing poems on that.
Let’s get some rules down. Many people (children AND teachers) worry that writing poetry is all about rhyme or structure. I’ve been asked (by teachers) whether a poem MUST begin each line with a capital letter. NO. A poem is about sharing an idea or an image. Let it come out any way it wants to. Put your punctuation and rules to one side. You can always add them later if you feel the need to.
Have a discussion about LIGHT. What do we mean by it? If you say “as light as” what comes next? Is it “day” or “as a feather”? Share how words can have more than one meaning. We can use that in our poetry. We can play with the word. In a recent poem, I write “Night is dark until it’s light”. How can dark be light? Isn’t it strange how words taken literally can seem so strange and yet taken another can be perfectly understandable?
Let’s think about the different ways we can use LIGHT. Without it we couldn’t see. When we gaze upon an object we are doing so because light is showing it to us. The moon reflects the light of the sun – even at night – which is why we see that. You could write about all the things light has touched, like fingers LIGHTLY exploring the shape of our world.
Close your eyes. Do you see anything? It’s not completely dark is it? How do you think a person without sight understands dark? A part of most types of light is HEAT. So in a way we can also feel LIGHT.
Here are two ways you can use some of these ideas in your poetry:
Be a RAINBOW PERSON! What colour is light? Get your science head on and show how white light is anything BUT white. White light contains all the colours of the rainbow – literally. It’s where we get rainbows from. We can use poetry to help us describe this. Think about feelings. In what way are these like rainbows? We have so many feelings that these can be like the colours of the rainbow – happy, sad, angry, kind – all the different colours of our personalities. Write a list of all the ways we feel. Red when I’m angry, blue when I’m tired, green when I’m chilling… and so on.
Be a LIGHT DETECTIVE! Imagine you are walking through a room. You have a torch and everywhere it shines you see something from the past of someone you know. Show how light touching these objects can help create a full picture of that person.
AMAZING FACT: the early universe was completely dark. Everything was so tightly packed together, LIGHT couldn’t move around.
AMAZING FACT: It takes a particle of light just EIGHT minutes to travel from the sun to the earth. That’s ONE AND A HALF BILLION KILOMETRES! And yet that’s not the most amazing fact because to get from the Sun’s core (where it is formed) to the surface (where it begins its journey into space) it takes… are you ready for this? Are you sure? Ok – it can take anything from ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND YEARS to MILLIONS OF YEARS! So the next time you feel the warmth of the sun on your face you are feeling ancient history!
This article was written by Dom Conlon. Follow Dom on Twitter or Facebook. It was partly inspired by his love of space – something which led to the publication of Astro Poetica, a collection of poems illustrated by Jools Wilson.
Sign up to the newsletter please! Dom is available for school visits so drop him a line any time.