Workshop inspires new poetry

A student poetry workshop organised by Fremantle Press and hosted by Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre has inspired students from Applecross Senior High School to keep writing.

Applecross Senior High School teacher Sussan McDonald said A.J. Betts and J.P. Quinton worked with the class to bring the world of poetry to life for the Year 9 Academic Extension students who participated.

“Prior to the workshop, the firm convictions students held about poetry was surprising.

“The workshop helped to challenge preconceived ideas as well as inspire the students to write,” said Ms McDonald.

She said all students returned to class feeling motivated and inspired, ready to try new techniques and ideas. A class anthology has been published and placed in the school library. Students continue to write.

Eighty students attended two workshops with A.J. Betts, Caroline Caddy, Scott-Patrick Mitchell and J.P. Quinton as part of Fremantle Poetry Month 2010. Fremantle Press poetry publisher Georgia Richter said the engagement and energy of the participants was a joy to behold.

Here’s what the students said:

Elise, 14 years old
The most interesting thing I learnt in the poetry workshop was about myself. Prior to the workshop, I could never find a starting point for my poems or stories, which was frustrating and a source of much anxiety. In the poetry workshop, A.J. Betts used buttons as a starting point to create narrative and character. She inspired me to look for simple, everyday objects as a starting point. Leading on from the workshop, I have not stopped writing.

My inspiration came from the simple dangers that surround us in everyday life. We are oblivious, consumed by our lives until it is too late to escape.

I wrote my poem ‘Shadows’, because I wanted to ask the question about our need to remain oblivious to the instinctual inner voice. Would we listen if we heard it?

Ellen, 13 years old
The most interesting thing I learnt in the poetry workshop was technical expertise, how to get your ideas from thought to paper. Poetry does not have to explore our everyday lives. Poetry gives the writer the luxury of exploring emotions. The workshop taught me how to convey emotion in poetry.

My poem, ‘Crack in the Armour’, is about the way we hide our true emotions with the masks we wear everyday. The lie eventually becomes the truth of who we are.

I wrote this because a couple of years ago I experienced severe bullying and I kept it to myself. I just carried on and tried to ignore it. Sadly, the bullying didn’t stop and I had a breakdown. I couldn’t sleep and locked myself away from the world. Mum helped me get through it. The workshop helped me to awaken, connect with my emotions and I put it down on paper.

Sienna, 14 years old
The most interesting thing I learnt in the poetry workshop was that poetry can be anything. I had a preconceived idea about what poetry was. Working with A.J. and J.P. was exciting because they are published poets. They inspired me to challenge my thinking and look at poetry as a wonderful way to write. As a writer, I had always been faithful to writing short stories, thinking they had more to offer. Poetry has an immediacy and fluency about it.

Click here to read poetry by Applecross Senior High School students.

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