World Book Day 2015 Part 1 - Poet Dzifa Benson visits to show us 'Poetry is a joy'

World Book Day was extra exciting this year as we had Poet and Storyteller Dzifa Benson teach a workshop designed to ignite a love of poetry within our students.

Each year group was given the poem ‘How to be a Candle’ to analyse before writing their own poem about an object, with the rest of the class guessing which object was being described. It certainly sparked some lively discussion over the word play – and whose poems were too easy to guess!

Abdal in Year 9 said: ‘We used our creative skills and our imagination skills.  We used creative & descriptive language. If we chose a picture we’d have to say the features of a picture but not make it too obvious so they couldn’t guess it too easily.’

Joshua said: ‘It’s very different, I haven’t done anything like this before. I got into it quick & enjoyed it. I did ‘How to be a Book’ and said ‘Lots of people read you’ and ‘Never judge me by my cover’.

Dzifa Benson explained: ‘I’ve done this ‘How to Be’ exercise with a number of schools all over the country but I think they have chosen the most unusual things like ‘How to be a dictionary’. I’ve never come across a child say that before.

‘How to be a plug socket’ was written by a girl who said ‘Poetry is boring’ and then she writes an amazing piece.I ran up to her, because I thought ‘If I can change her mind a bit that would be great – and it did!’

Dzifa's aims stem from her belief that their exposure to the medium is often limited:

'One of my objectives is for them to think about poetry in different ways because sadly one of the things about poetry in schools is that what is chosen for them to read, quite often that doesn’t have much of a relevance to their lives and I think that is a lot of the reason why they think it’s boring.

I hope to leave them with the feeling that it’s not boring and also that it requires you to be patient with it and not to expect it on the first go.'

Yousif in Year 7 now has more of an appreciation: 'It has made me like poetry more – before I liked it 8 out of 10 & now I like it 9 out of 10. I like doing acrostic poems.'

Saad said: 'I like writing poems and learning new words. I learned what ‘diminishes’ and ‘sputter’ meant today.'

Kaya feels the session helped her feel more confident with poetry: 'Whenever I’d hear a poem I really wouldn’t understand it but now I know that if you read it again and look at what the words mean it makes it easier.'

'It’s made me think wider when it comes to poetry and going into the metaphor, wondering what it’s about and what it might be based around.'

Year 7 now have a fan in Dzifa: 'I loved their enthusiasm - before I’d even finished reading the poem they were raising their hands and I loved the fact that they had a go; even if they didn’t know the answer they tried to guess. They really engaged with it and did everything with effort – it felt like they wanted to impress me!'

Her advice for young people who are interested in writing: 'Read, read, read and when you think you’ve read some more!'

We thank her for coming to visit us and for her encouragement of our budding authors!