mark truscott and i recently “judged” the Young Voices poetry contest for the Toronto Public Library. tomorrow, i’ll meet the selected writers from the 12-14 age group at the Toronto Reference Library, and we’ll delve into a series of exercises that expand ideas of what a poem can be.
i’ve run this workshop with classes of twenty or more, and am quite looking forward to the discussion a small group will likely net. the workshop will start off with some free writing (always good to get the creative juices flowing, and to ease out the self-censor), and the a game of collaborative writing to gear up workshoppers to play together.
after this, we’ll identify places we encounter writing everyday and specific forms (essay, resume, menu, signs, ads, etc.) and we’ll also identify traditional forms of poetry (haiku, sonnet, ghazal, quatrain, etc.). then i’ll ask if some of our everyday writing forms could also be used to create poetry. this starts us down the path of considering non-traditional forms for poetry.
next, we’ll survey our surroundings to locate found poetry, and we’ll discuss traditional and non-traditional poetic content. we’ll then work together to create cut-up poetry as a way of further exploring non-traditional content.
time permitting, we may also have a go at cancelled texts, or we may try combining our non-traditional forms with our non-traditional content. we’ll definitely have some leftover time for students to experiment with whatever they like, work on their own, work together, and even share their creations with the group. lots of action, lots of interaction, scissors, markers, destruction of newspapers and magazines, and hopefully some solid discussion around what a poem IS and what a poem can be.