From the moment Joseph Coelho started to speak, his passion for poetry was obvious! ‘Poetry is a performing art,’ he told us as he lamented the fact that many teachers want to teach poetry- but don’t seem to know how to start. ‘A poem is writing that uses all the good tools that writers use- anyone can write poems! It’s all about having fun with words!’ And with that, the fun started!
I have heard many people speak about many things in my time, including some of our best known children’s poets, but I have never come away from a session quite so enthusiastic about poetry- and I love poetry!
With his quiet, unassuming manner and his love of poetry, the whole audience was captivated and willingly participating in the session, calling out ideas, laughing and enjoying using language. Joseph welcomed all suggestions, but (like any good teacher!) carefully steered our collaboration to a successful outcome.
As well as being hugely enjoyable, Joseph offered some very practical ideas for sharing poetry with others. Using some of the poems from his collection, ‘Werewolf Club Rules’, we explored some of his ideas during the session.
M.O.R.E.R.A.P.S is an excellent poem to introduce (or remind) people of some features of poetic writing. Each letter stands for a technique, e.g. M is metaphor and the poem then explains this and gives examples. This would be an excellent piece for learning by heart and performing as it really lends itself to part speaking and performance. He then encouraged us to use the poem to help us locate these features in other poems throughout the book. Things got quite competitive on some tables as we searched for similes, mused over metaphors and argued over alliteration. If the conversation the exercise created with a group of adults was anything to go by, children would learn so much from doing this!
Another poem we looked at was ‘If All the World Were Paper…’(use of the subjunctive!). Joseph performed this and then encouraged us to take the two main ideas- family and paper- and gather as many thoughts as possible before looking to match them in unusual and creative ways to create our own version of the poem.
There were so many more ideas and thoughts that he shared- it was an excellent session. However, my advice to you is, go and see the man in action. Be inspired- and pass that inspiration and enthusiasm on.
Werewolf Club Rules Joseph Coelho
Frances Lincoln ISBN: 978-184780452