When children sit down to write a poem, they face many challenges.
They have to think what, exactly, they want to say, how they want to start, what words to use, how to arrange them, how to fit them into a few lines, how to make the piece look and sound like a poem (rather than a story, account or list, for instance), and how to end it.
They will probably have extra requirements to accommodate too, such as a literary technique or poetic style – or several. Then, on top of all that – or crumpled up underneath, perhaps, they’ll find adventure beckoning, with irresistible flashing lights and glimpses of thrilling panoramas, and with an arrow facing down some other, twisty, foggy route. But they only have limited time to write, and putting pen to paper in any shape or form can be difficult, especially if your pencil is broken or the child next to you is reading their poem out loud as they write, or you can’t spell that brilliant opening word you’ve suddenly hit on.
If writing their poem for me, in one of my workshops, the children will probably be asked (or encouraged) to read out some of it afterwards, standing up in front of the class with the other children on their table – yet another challenge for them, though no one has to read, of course!
While few children will opt for creative writing as their future career – let alone poetry, the achievement of writing their poem will help them in other areas of development. Everything from the physical act of writing to the requisite leap of imagination will impact on their learning and confidence, as will the experience of presenting their individual creation to an audience.
Having said that, most children seem to love crafting poems, despite all the hurdles involved. I wish I’d had more opportunities for poetry-writing at school, many decades ago; perhaps that’s why I’m so passionate about helping to open doors to this sky-wide, verse-small genre for today’s youngsters.