Poetry Society – Learning from Home

Poetry Education E-bulletin  •  March 2020
Dear colleague,
We hope you are well. During what is for many of us a confusing and worrying time, we want you all to know that we are here to share poetry that can lift your spirits and encourage you all to write and read poetry as an outlet for your own creativity and wellbeing.

Learning from home

We know that lots of you (like us) are now working from home, and for many of us this is an adjustment to our normal day. To help parents, teachers and young people to continue to enjoy learning, we have brought together our best writing activities on our new webpage Learning from Home. We will be introducing new content on a regular basis so that there is never a lack of fun poetry activities. We have lots of competitions that are open for children and young people of all ages to enter completely for free on Young Poets Network, and for secondary school children this is the perfect time to get inspired and write their own poem/s and enter the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, the most prestigious poetry competition for young people in the world.

We’ve also gathered together a list of YPN’s top 10 writing prompts, which you can use and adapt for your classes: find these free online workshops here. 

We want to hear from you

We’re also writing to ask what we can do for you. We plan to commission lots of new poetry teaching resources, including video workshops from poets, worksheets, cross curricular activities and more to support you in these changing times – but we’d like to hear what would be most helpful for you. Let us know what themes you’d like to be covered, and any ideas you have by emailing educationadmin@poetrysociety.org.uk

National Poetry Competition winners announced!

Lat night should have been the award ceremony for the winners of The Poetry Society’s annual National Poetry Competition. Instead, we held a Zoom celebration, and our winners made home movies of themselves reading their poems. Read, see and celebrate the poems here and on Twitter.

Keep safe

We are here for you and will continue to be throughout and after the current crisis. You may start to hear from us more regularly than once a month, as we look to share our ongoing opportunities as they happen. If you would like to share any poetry with us, then please do not hesitate to contact us on educationadmin@poetrysociety.org.uk.

You may find it useful to read or share our mental health and poetry page with your students: in particular, check out this article by Young Minds to help combat news-related-anxiety, and this article by Mind which offers tips for everyone, and especially for those stuck at home or self-isolating. 

Keep safe and look after yourself.

Love and solidarity,

The Poetry Society Education Team

Poem of the Week: Heaven in a Poke

Rejoice in Andrew Pettigrew’s wonderful poem ‘Heaven in a Poke’ which was chosen by Sinéad Morrissey and Kayo Chingonyi as a commended poem in the 2017 Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award. If you would like to read more Foyle Young Poet winning poems, then check out The Poetry Society’s Issuu with lots of free and wonderful anthologies.

Heaven in a Poke

Awright, I’m no very religious
And I can be a wee bit serious,
But one thing’s fur sure
That fae a bad day there ain’t nae cure
Except mabbe
Tae hae a chippy
Git a bag aw chips,
Wi’ a smack aw ma lips!
Aw! It’s heaven in a poke!

But chips ain’t enough tae live oan
There’s somethin’ else that needs tae be dun,
Ah think o’ love an’ care,
A treat close by, an’ always so rare!
An’ then I see it, in the shop windae
A breaded haddock, aw cooked an’ lovely!
Put the pennies doon oan the till
So starvin’ I’m oot tae kill;
Aw! It’s heaven in a poke!

Noo a got ma supper, just ma fish an’ me,
Both oot in the cold, but happy as can be
We’ve git each other, we’ll make it through,
Oh wee haddock
I need tae tell ye I LOVE YOU!
Wi’ salt and vinegar, there’s chips too
An’ a nice can
O’ Irn Bru;
Aw! It’s heaven in a poke!

But wait jus’ wan moment, whit’s that above me?
A wee birdie flyin’ awa ‘n’ free?
Oot from a bin, tummy nae yet full;
Came chargin’ oot like a wee white bull!
With its grey wee mantle, an’ orange webbed feet,
It stole me fish supper, an I’m ready tae greet!
An’ tae say “cheers mate”, it cacked on ma skull,
Away ye go, ye bleidin’ seagull!
‘Cause … it isnie heaven in a poke nae mare!

Glossary
Poke – A small paper bag
Windae – Window
Doon oan the till – Down on the cash register
Supper – Anything you purchase from a chip shop that is accompanied by chips
Irn Bru – A traditional Scottish soft beverage
A wee birdie flyin awa ‘n’ free – A small bird flying away and free
I’m ready to greet – I’m about to cry
Cacked on ma skull –  It dropped some excrement on my head

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